Does green tea have caffeine? This is a question we get asked all the time, so we’re going to answer it once and for all.
We’ll also take a look at which teas are highest in caffeine and which teas are lowest in caffeine.
Finally, we’ll show you how to raise or lower the caffeine in green tea depending on how you prepare it.
Let’s get brewing! 🍃
Does green tea have caffeine?
So let’s start off with the question on everyone's mind, does green tea have caffeine?
The answer is yes, there is caffeine in green tea.
All green teas will contain some level of caffeine, and if you find a green tea that is caffeine free, chances are the caffeine has been removed from it.
But where does the caffeine in green tea come from?
That we will discuss in the next section.
By the way, if you're looking to find which teas are the highest in caffeine, we recommend you check out this article 👉 Which tea has the most caffeine
Why does green tea caffeine exist?
Before we get into the details and talk about how much caffeine in green tea, let’s talk about where the caffeine in green tea comes from.
Is green tea caffeinated naturally, or is green tea caffeinated during the production process?
What is green tea?
To be considered a tea, it has to come from the tea plant, Camelia sinensis. This plant contains caffeine naturally, so it is not a question of does green tea have caffeine, it’s a question of how much caffeine is in green tea.
Green tea simply refers to a tea that is made from unoxidized tea leaves. This unoxidized tea is made by heating the tea leaves after the harvest so they don’t oxidize overtime and turn into a black tea.
Caffeine in green tea leaves
The caffeine in green tea leaves is actually produced as a self defense mechanism. Caffeine is incredibly bitter and even poisonous to small insects, so it is produced to form a protective coating around the tea leaf.
The younger, more tender leaves of the tea plant produce more caffeine as they are more vulnerable, while the tougher mature leaves and stems will produce less.
How much caffeine in green tea?
The amount of caffeine in green tea is typically between 30-50mg per serving. This takes into consideration 1 serving of typical tea leaves, like those you would find in a grocery store.
But does green tea have caffeine higher or lower than this range? This is something we will cover when we talk about the varieties with the highest and the lowest green tea caffeine content.
How much caffeine in a cup of green tea?
The question of how much caffeine in a cup of green tea is a little bit different because green tea leaves can be infused 3 times or more. Because the caffeine is on the outside of the leaf
Is there caffeine in green tea if it’s the third brewing?
Is green tea caffeine free if you only drink the third brewing? Technically, the caffeine in green tea will be incredibly low by the time you get to the third brewing, but it still can release about 12% of the total caffeine in the tea leaves.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, you can share the first two brewings of the caffeine and only drink the third one, but just know that it still won’t be entirely caffeine free.
How green tea caffeine can vary
How much caffeine in green tea depends on a number of different factors. Let's dive into the different ways a farmer can raise or lower the green tea caffeine.
Keep in mind, these methods aren’t used solely to raise or lower the caffeine content, they are to alter the flavor of the tea leaves.
In Japan, one technique farmers use is to cover the tea plants with a special type of netting called a “kabuse”. This cuts the tea plant off from sunlight, which causes the leaf to produce less bitterness.
This shading process can be a stressful time for the tea plant, so it also produces more caffeine in order to defend itself. This is why shaded teas will have more caffeine than unshaded teas, all else being equal.
After the tea has been shaded, the farmer can also control the amount of caffeine ends up in the final tea by how it is picked. If the farmer harvests the younger sprouts of the tea plant, the tea will have more caffeine.
If the picking is done lower down on the tea plant, it will include the older leaves and stems, which will produce a lower caffeine content. This is easy to remember! Higher picking: higher caffeine, lower picking: lower caffeine.
The tea harvest is a complicated and fascinating event, and if you want to learn more about it, you may want to read this article 👉 Complete Guide about Tea Harvesting
While not as big of a factor as the first two, the caffeine in green tea is altered once again during the processing of the tea itself. In the case of matcha, the stems are removed from the tea leaf, which boosts the caffeine content.
In the case of hojicha, the tea leaves are roasted, which lowers the green tea caffeine slightly.
Lowest green tea caffeine content
Does green tea have caffeine if you choose the right type? All the teas on this list will contain some level of caffeine, but the green tea caffeine content will be so low you can enjoy these teas in the evening and still get to sleep alright.
Let’s go through 4 different teas to find the lowest caffeine in green tea!
Does green tea have caffeine if you make it with toasted rice? Genmaicha is a tea made by combining green tea leaves with toasted rice, and while it still does contain caffeine, the green tea caffeine content is significantly lowered because of the toasted rice.
Genmaicha will have around 18mg of caffeine per serving and it has a pleasant popcorn or cereal flavor to it that works great in the evening time.
Does green tea have caffeine if you roast the tea leaves?
It is a common misconception that you can “roast” all the caffeine out of the tea leaves, but roasted teas like hojicha are lower in caffeine nonetheless.
The low green tea caffeine content comes mostly from the fact that these teas tend to be made from the older leaves and stems of the tea plant.
One way to lower the caffeine in green tea is by incorporating the stems of the tea plant.
These stems contain ⅓ the caffeine as the tea leaves.
So by making a tea that is half stems and half leaves like kukicha, you can significantly lower the green tea caffeine content.
Another way to lower the caffeine in green tea is by using the older leaves of the tea plant.
Bancha is a delicious green tea that is made from these more mature tea leaves.
As we mentioned before, the younger tea leaves are more tender, so they require more caffeine to protect themselves. The older leaves are tougher, and therefore they require less caffeine.
This means that you can enjoy bancha tea even if you are sensitive to caffeine.
Highest green tea caffeine content
How much caffeine does green tea have at the higher levels? Green tea can have up to 140mg of caffeine per serving.
Matcha powder has the highest green tea caffeine content because it is made with younger, shaded tea leaves, it has its stems removed and it is ground into a powder and mixed directly into water.
What’s even more impressive is that you can easily raise the caffeine content of matcha by simply adding more powder to the water. A single gram of ceremonial matcha has 34mg of caffeine but when you use 4 grams in a typical 8 ounce cup, you end up with 136mg of caffeine, more than a cup of coffee!
Still confused about what matcha is exactly? We made the perfect guide for you 👉 What is Matcha? The one and only Matcha-Encyclopedia
How much caffeine in green tea can depend on how long the tea is shaded.
Gyokuro is a super sweet, high caffeine green tea that needs to be shaded for 3 weeks before the harvest.
During this longer shading process, the tea leaves develop more caffeine and a rich, sweet and savory flavor.
Because of this intense flavor, gyokuro has been called “the Emperor’s tea” because it was once the tea of choice for the Emperor.
#3 Kabuse Sencha
Kabuse sencha is another shaded green tea, but it is not shaded for quite as long as gyokuro.
If a sencha is shaded for between 10-20 days, it is considered a kabuse sencha and it usually has a delicate sweet flavor to it with very little bitterness.
The caffeine content is somewhere in between gyokuro and sencha, with 60-80mg of caffeine per cup.
Sencha tea is the most common type of green tea in Japan, and it really falls in the middle when it comes to how much caffeine is in green tea. Sencha is made from younger tea leaves that have been steamed, rolled and dried.
It can have between 40-60mg of caffeine per serving, which is around half a cup of coffee.
How does sencha compare to gyokuro? We did a full comparison between these two teas, and you can read all about it here 👉 Gyokuro vs Sencha: Health Benefits, Caffeine, Taste, & More
How to change how much caffeine is in green tea
We’ve talked about how the farmer can change how much caffeine is in green tea, but how can you as the tea brewer control how much caffeine is in green tea?
By the way, if you want to learn how to brew tea like a Japanese tea master, you may want to give this a read 👉 How to Make Loose Leaf Tea explained by Tea experts
#1 Less Tea Leaves
This may seem obvious, but using less tea leaves will allow prepare a cup of tea with a lower caffeine content. We typically recommend to brew tea with 5 grams of leaves and 150ml of water, but you can use 2.5 grams if you want a lower caffeine brew.
#2 Shorter Brewing
If you use a shorter brewing time, the water won’t have as much of a chance to extract the caffeine from the tea leaves. Normally, we recommend a brewing time of 1 minute for most Japanese green teas, but a 45 second brewing time would extract less caffeine.
#3 Lower Temperature
Hotter water will extract more from the tea leaf, so if you lower the temperature of the water you brew with, you will end up with a cup of green tea that has less caffeine.
Instead of brewing with 160 fahrenheit, try brewing the tea with 140 degrees fahrenheit. This will extract less caffeine and it may even make your Japanese green tea less bitter!
Does green tea have caffeine if you brew it cold?
So is there caffeine in green tea if you prepare it with cold water? Caffeine is one of the compounds in green tea that is extracted better with hot water. This means that cold water will extract less caffeine than hot water, but the green tea will still not be caffeine free.
Is green tea caffeine free if you choose the right kind?
So does green tea have caffeine in it if you choose the right kind, brew it the right way and drink only the third steeping?
Technically, there will always be some level of caffeine in green tea, but if you follow all the steps we laid out in this article and choose one of the low caffeine varieties, the level of green tea caffeine will be so negligible that it won’t impact your sleep or your health.