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Caffeine: Tea vs Coffee

Caffeine is a big part of the lives of many adults. It’s the main reason coffee is so popular. Most people would find it very hard to believe that coffee gained its popularity because people actually enjoy drinking a cupful of bitter sludge. But hey, there’s no accounting for people’s taste.


More and more, we seem to be a civilization running on overdrive, trying to go faster, produce more and stay up longer. This is evident by the wide selection of energy drinks, energy pills and an ever increasing dosage of caffeine.


According to research published by the Mayo Clinic, an 8 oz. cup of Black tea contains 14-70 mg of caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine. Quite a difference.


Now, before you start thinking you need to forgo your favored morning cup of tea for coffee, just so you can get that jolt you need to get the engine going again read on.


It’s true coffee does contain quite a bit more caffeine than tea, however, tea contains other natural stimulants that are similar to caffeine including theobromine, theophylline and xanthine.


With this being said, even though the overall stimulants in tea and coffee are technically identical, tea affects us in different ways.


An amino acid called L-theanine, found only in tea, reduces stress and promotes relaxation. It works with caffeine to calm the body without reducing the alertness caffeine produces. This allows tea drinkers to have the benefit of mental alertness and focus, without the jittery nervousness that caffeine is known for.


The next benefit tea holds over coffee is, the high levels of antioxidants found in tea slow down caffeine absorption. This provides a gentler increase of the chemical in the system and allows for a longer period of alertness with no crash at the end.


There is a myth that tea contains more caffeine than coffee. This is actually true if you measure coffee and tea in their dry forms. However, it is false when you are comparing the two after they have been brewed.


This is because we normally use 2 grams of tea to produce an 6 oz. cup because 8 oz. of water makes the tea too watered down. However, 10 grams of coffee is used to make the same size cup. This is the main reason there is such a difference in the amount of caffeine contained in each drink, you are using more coffee to produce the same size cup.


The amount of caffeine in either coffee or tea depends on several different factors, including the method and length of brewing and steeping. In regards to tea, studies also show that the location of the leaf on the plant affects the content of caffeine in that tea. The newest leaves, highest up on the plant, contain the greatest concentration of caffeine and antioxidants.


Water temperature and length of steeping time have the greatest impact on caffeine content in tea. With this being said, a tea that is steeped for five minutes in boiling water will transfer a lot more caffeine than tea that is steeped for two minutes.


Another myth, promoted by several tea retailers, is that oxidation increases the level of caffeine in tea. There is no scientific proof that this is true. This claim results from measuring the caffeine in the cup after typical brewing methods and incorrectly attributing that to the tea itself.


There is a lot of recent concern in the United States about the possible dangers of caffeine. Caffeine tolerance varies a lot among different individuals. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It is a common misconception that people who are caffeine sensitive should only drink decaffeinated tea.


In fact, same as with coffee, decaffeinated tea is not caffeine free. It still contains 5-10 mg of caffeine per cup. A way to completely eliminate caffeine intake, is to drink herbal teas. All real tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis, which contains caffeine naturally.


Herbal infusions, such as Chamomile, Rooibos and Peppermint, are made from botanicals which aren’t related to Camellia sinensis, and are naturally caffeine free.


There are a lot of different factors to consider if you are caffeine conscious in regards to coffee and tea. However, if you are looking for a pick me up, coffee isn’t your only option and that is what a lot of people are being lead to believe. You can get your daily pick me up, while still enjoying an amazingly flavorful drink.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


What are Tisanes?

A confusing aspect of tea is that a lot of the beverages we commonly refer to as “tea” actually aren’t tea at all. Tisanes (meaning “herbal infusion” in French), which are commonly called herbal teas, usually consist of dried flowers, fruits or herbs steeped in boiling water, and don’t actually contain any tea leaves at all.


Actually, in some countries, the word “tea” is legally regulated to only be used in describing products from the Camellia Sinensis plant. However, we aren’t so strict in the United States, we call just about every beverage that it steeped “tea”.


Many Tisanes, historically used for medicinal purposes, are beginning to become popular again in tea circles. Just about any flower, fruit or herb that can be steeped in water and ingested can become a tisane.


Here are just a few of the more common tisanes you will readily find:


Herbal Tisanes

One of the most famous herbal teas comes from ancient Egypt. Chamomile was first mentioned in a document known as the Ebers Papyrus, dating all the way back to 1550 BC.


The sweet citrus and floral flavor of chamomile has a reputation of honoring the gods, embalming the dead and curing the sick and it is still very popular today for its calming properties.


Peppermint tea has been used for just about as long as a home remedy for upset stomach and to help with the overall digestive system. In ancient Greece, tables would be rubbed down with peppermint oil to make dining a more pleasant experience.


Fruit Tisanes

Fruit tisanes are caffeine free blends which can contain a wide variety of fruits, spices and herbs. Hibiscus, naturally high in Vitamin C. is the most common ingredient in fruit teas. A crimson flower that yields a deep red color after it is steeped, that has a strong tart, sweet flavor that is very appealing.


To achieve a perfect blend, with just the right visual and flavor appeal, tea blenders will use dried fruits, fruit peels, fruit oils, blossoms and spices to their herbal blends.


Rooibos

Rooibos is a relative newcomer in the United States and has recently become very popular. Also known as “Red Bush Tea” or just “Red Tea,” rooibos was introduced as a substitute for black tea during World War II, when all supplies of Japanese and Chinese teas became unavailable.


Only grown in South Africa, caffeine free rooibos has a rich, slightly sweet flavor that is excellent alone or blends very well with a variety of other flavors.


Yerba Mate

Yerba Mate is a South American botanical from the holly family which is consumed throughout most of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Far East. Also known as simply “Mate”, this tisane has been praised as a cultural phenomenon, which both energizes and heals the body.


Yerba Mate, along with coffee, cocoa and tea, is one of the few plants known to contain caffeine which lends to its energizing effects. With a very earthy taste, Mate can seem a little different to newcomers, however, after a few sips most people find it very pleasant, which is quickly making it a suitable substitute for coffee in the U.S.


Herbal blends are quickly growing in popularity, with the wide variety of tisanes available, the possible combinations are virtually unlimited.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.


The Amazing and Versatile Camellia Sinensis

Most true tea comes from one plant, the Camellia sinensis which is part of the evergreen family. The leaves are glossy green with serrated edges. When allowed to flower, the plant produces small white flower with bright yellow stamens.


Flowering is prevented during cultivation by harvesting the leaves and forcing the plant to constantly make more buds. There are two primary varieties of Camellia sinensis used for tea and a third which isn't.


Camellia sinensis

The Camellia sinensis plant strain is from China and is usually used to make green tea and white tea. This variety is also used to make some black teas and oolong teas.


This Chinese grown plant grows the best in cool temperatures on steep mountain slopes. Thriving at elevations up to 9,500 feet, the plant will typically grow to between 5 and 15 feet tall, if left unattended, and produces leaves up to two inches long. The short mountain growing seasons yield a smaller crop of more tender leaves that yield a sweeter, less astringent cup.


To allow easier plucking of the new growth, the Camellia sinensis is usually pruned to be waist high with a flat top. Because of the climate, the growing season is half of the year, at most. The plant will typically yield no more than five pluckings a year. The China plant will be dormant during the winters.


During the dormant winter the plant stores up its energy and nutrients which ensures the spring “flush” of new growth provides some of the finest teas on earth with the highest concentrations of desirable flavors and essential elements that provide the health benefits in tea.


Camellia sinensis assamica

The Camellia sinensis assamica strain is native to the Assam region in India. This strain is usually used to produce black tea, as well as pu erh tea in Yunnan province, China.


High humidity, generous rainfall, and warm temperatures allow this larger, more robust tea variety to thrive. The Assamica plant will grow to between 30 and 60 feet if left unattended and produce much larger leaves.


Under perfect conditions, the Assamica plant can be harvested every 8 to 12 days throughout the year. Because of the tremendous yields, it is the preferred crop in Northeast India, Sri Lanka and Africa. The unique climate in Sri Lanka allows the harvest from this hardy bush to continue year-round.


The Assamica leaf is ideal for producing strong, malty black teas, as well as other Chinese teas that require longer production, as in the case of oolong and pu-erh.


Camellia sinensis cambodiensis

The third variety is Camellia sinensis cambodiensis (Java Bush), which has been crossbred to achieve certain traits in other cultivars. The Java Bush isn't typically used in commercial tea production.


At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn't to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Flavored Tea

The great thing about tea is all of the amazing natural flavors and fragrances that can be added to enhance the natural flavors and to create great drink to suit anyone’s taste. There is nothing wrong with adding natural aromas and flavors to tea. The problem comes with adding artificial flavoring.


We have put together some information on everything you ever wanted to know about flavored tea but were afraid to ask.


Inclusions

Inclusion are, just like the name implies, anything you choose to include in a tea for a visual or sensory benefit. They consist of flower blossoms, pieces of dried fruit, herbs and spices.


Natural Flavoring or Extracts

Extracts are flavorings that are obtained by extracting the essential oils from the leaves, fruits, blossoms, roots or any other part of a plant. The essential oils contain distinctive aromas or flavors that you normally expect to find in the plant being used.


Obtaining extracts can be as simple as pressing a lemon peel to produce the oil, while others require a much more involved means of extraction, as in the case of soaking vanilla beans in alcohol to gain the oils.


Nature-identical

These are flavorings that have been obtained from natural substances but are aided with chemical synthesis. The result of these flavorings is an identical chemical structure to the “Natural” flavor, however, it was obtained by a chemist.


Nature-identical flavors are usually more stable than pure natural flavoring extracts and are normally less expensive. Most flavored products are flavored in this manner, however, the FDA doesn’t have a classification for this method so they consider nature-identical flavoring to be “artificial”, although this isn’t an accurate classification.


Artificial Flavoring

Artificial flavors are created by altering the chemical composition of a naturally occurring molecule to create a different, more pronounced and less expensive flavor. This composition does not exist in nature, which is why ESP Emporium DOES NOT use artificial flavoring in any of their teas.


Usually more than one method of flavoring is used in a tea including adding inclusions, coating with extracts and scenting. Most inclusions will alter the flavor or aroma of the tea in some way, however, this method may not be as pronounced as we would like it. This is why most flavored teas are flavored with natural-identical additives.


Application of the flavoring agent

When applying an extract to tea, the flavoring is poured or sprayed over the dry leaf and then the leaves are blended to make sure there is an even distribution. Large companies will do this procedure in large rotating drums filled with hundreds of pounds of tea. Most teas will obtain proper absorption of the extract in less than 30 minutes, however, some flavors require significantly longer for proper absorption of the extract.


At ESP Emporium, all of our teas contain only flavorings which follow the respective flavor guidelines for flavors used in food. Our goal is to provide you with the best quality premium tea possible. We never cut corners to offer a lesser grade product just to save money. We are tea lovers who want to supply other tea lovers with amazing teas.



Does Decaffeinated Green Tea Retain its Health Benefits?

We have received several questions asking if decaffeinated green tea loses its health benefits due to the decaffeination process. The answer is yes, if the wrong decaffeination process is used.


Several studies have shown that drinking green tea can decrease a person’s risk of cancer and heart disease. The tea’s naturally occurring chemical compounds called polyphenols provide these health benefits.


The main polyphenols in tea are catechins, which include EGCG, the compound epigallocatechin gallate. EGCGs inhibit unhealthy cell growth and play a role in programmed cell death, both of these actions are crucial to the prevention and control of cancer.


Other polyphenols, contained in the tea, are potent antioxidants which help prevent damage to healthy cells, as well as preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol caused by free radicals. These preventative functions are critical for inhibiting the formation of plaque in the arteries or atherosclerosis.


Decaffeination Process

The decaffeination process does affect the amounts of polyphenol in tea, including catechins. There are two decaffeination methods used on teas imported into the United States, ethyl acetate and CO₂ (effervescence).


Ethyl acetate is the most commonly used method, it consists of a chemical solvent that is applied to tea to extract the caffeine. The tea is then left with a residual amount of the solvent which is considered, at certain levels, to be safe for human consumption.


Green tea that has been decaffeinated using ethyl acetate retains minimal health benefits, at only about 30% of EGCG and other catechins.


CO₂ (effervescence)

CO₂ (effervescence) processing consists of carbon dioxide and water to remove caffeine from tea. This is the only type of decaffeinated teas that we sell at ESP Emporium because they keep an impressive 95% of the polyphenols and catechins in the tea.


Being able to keep the most amount of the tea’s good health promoting benefits makes the CO₂ method of decaffeination the only option in our opinion since we strive to provide the most beneficial and wholesome selection of teas available.


Don’t let the Wording Mislead You

Most decaffeinated teas don’t state which process is used. Several tea packages will contain the wording “naturally decaffeinated”. This is a term that can mean ethyl acetate decaffeination was the method used, since trace amounts of naturally occurring ethyl acetate exists in tea leaves.


Even though this isn't a false statement, it isn't informing the consumer of what was lost in tea. The statement makes the process sound like all of the health benefits were left intact in the tea.


This is why, as with anything, you need to be cautious about who you are purchasing your tea from and the quality they are providing. ESP Emporium has become an industry leader by gaining the trust of our customers.


We have a reputation for offering only the best quality teas that have been processed, packaged and shipped to retain their natural benefits.