Which tea has the most caffeine? This is a question that people often ask us, and there are actually a few different answers. Depending what you consider a “tea” and how you prepare the teas, different types of teas could be considered as having the highest caffeine content. In this article, we are going to tackle the question of which tea has the most caffeine, and rank the teas in order of their caffeine content. Let’s get started!
Which tea has the most caffeine
#1 Mate & Guayusa
One cup of yerba mate can contain 180mg of caffeine, while Guayusa can contain even more. This has a lot to do with the preparation, as the drink is typically prepared with an extremely high leaf to water ratio. First, you fill up a gourd ⅔ of the way up with leaves and then pour hot water in. The drink can then be enjoyed with a bombilla or metal straw that filters out the leaves automatically.
While these herbal infusions do have the most caffeine, they are technically disqualified from the question which tea has the most caffeine because they are not truly tea types. If you are simply looking for a high caffeine drink that’s not coffee, this is a good option.
To answer the question which tea has the most caffeine, the answer would technically be matcha. Premium matcha is one of the highest caffeine teas you can find. Rather than being infused like a normal leaf tea, matcha powder is mixed directly into water. This means that you can increase the caffeine content simply by adding more powder into the water. A regular serving of matcha will include about 2 grams of powder and 136 milligrams of caffeine.
If you are preparing koicha or thick matcha, you would use less water and 4 grams of matcha powder. This creates a matcha paste that has 272 milligrams of caffeine. This koicha matcha is consumed during special tea ceremonies and should only be made out of the smoothest matcha powder. If you would like to make your own koicha, we recommend you use the matcha washimine or nakai superior matcha to avoid the bitterness.
#3 Green tea
When you ask the question which tea has the most caffeine it is tempting to say green tea, particularly Japanese green tea. This tea type encompasses a lot of the highest caffeine teas in the world, but not all green teas have a high caffeine content. In this section, we will be highlighting a few of our favorite high caffeine green teas and talking a little bit about each one.
The first tea on our green tea list is Gyokuro, the only Japanese green tea that really has more caffeine than a cup of coffee. When people ask the question which tea has the most caffeine, gyokuro is always the top of mind.
This is considered to be the most premium Japanese leaf tea, because of the careful production process. This tea has to be shaded for 3 weeks prior to the harvest in order for it to develop this characteristic sweet and savory flavor. When the theanine in the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it is converted into catechins. These will have a slightly drier, more bitter flavor than the theanine, so if you are looking for a sweet and savory tea, you will want to go for a shaded sencha or a Gyokuro.
If you want to see how gyokuro compares to a tea like sencha in terms of its caffeine content and health benefits, you can read our complete article on 👉gyokuro vs sencha
Other than matcha, Gyokuro has the longest shading process. This allows the tea to develop its unique flavor and also its high caffeine content. When the tea plant is cut off from sunlight, it begins to produce more caffeine as a defense mechanism to avoid insects.
A cup of premium Gyokuro can contain anywhere from 120-140mg of caffeine, which is more than most small cups of coffee. You may not feel like it has quite as much caffeine, because instead of this sudden jolt of energy, you will get a longer lasting boost that should last throughout the day. This is good for long periods of work, study or even meditation. By the way, did you know that this tea also exist in powder form? It's called gyokuro powder and slightly different compared to matcha.
The second high caffeine tea on our list is Kabuse Sencha. After Gyokuro, Kabuse sencha is considered to be the second highest quality leaf tea in Japan. These teas are shaded for between 10-20 days before the harvest to develop a sweeter and smoother flavor with less bitterness.
While not shaded as long as Gyokuro and matcha, these teas still develop plenty of caffeine and theanine. These green teas will have more caffeine than a regular sencha, but less caffeine than a Gyokuro. We find that the flavor profile of this tea is lighter and sweeter, without being too strong on these savory or brothy notes. If you like sweeter teas, but are a bit turned off by the more seaweedy flavors of Gyokuro, this may be the perfect tea for you.
The third tea on our list is sencha. Sencha is the most common type of green tea in Japan, and it also spans across the widest spectrum of flavors. You can have a drier unshaded asamushi sencha, or you can have a sweeter and fruitier shaded fukamushi sencha.
The major factors that influence the flavor of a sencha is what cultivar it comes from, how its shaded, how its picked and how it's steamed. Gyokuro is shaded for 21 days or more prior to the harvest, Kabusecha is shaded for between 10-20 days prior to the harvest but a normal sencha can be unshaded or shaded for up to 10 days before it is picked.
Because the caffeine content of sencha is so complicated, we decided to dedicate an entire article about it. If you want to learn more about it you can read 👉 Sencha Caffeine Content a Complete Guide by Tea Experts
How Shading Affects the Caffeine of Sencha
The longer it's shaded, generally the more sweetness the tea will have. Also, a farmer can change the flavor profile of the sencha based on how long they steam the tea leaves. Normal sencha teas are shaded for 30-40 seconds, but fukamushi sencha can be shaded for an additional few seconds to break down the leaves and cause them to produce a richer, fruitier flavor and a deeper green color.
You can also have short steamed or asamushi sencha that is steamed for less than 30 seconds. Most sencha teas will fall somewhere in the neighborhood of half the caffeine as a cup of coffee, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, these might be a good choice for you. Sencha is a good way to get a little bit of caffeine in the morning, without being overwhelmed.
These teas will be on a similar caffeine level to sencha, but because they are always going to be made from the top sprouts of the tea plant, they will tend to have more caffeine than a typical sencha tea, all else being equal. That's because these younger, more tender buds produce more caffeine.
The tea plant uses caffeine as its primary defense to ward off insects, and because the younger leaves are more vulnerable, they need to produce more. The stems and the older leaves of the tea plant are much tougher, and therefore they don’t need as much protection. That’s why a tea like Bancha, made from the older leaves and stems of the tea plant is much lower in caffeine.
#4 White tea
The name “white tea” comes from the silver buds of the tea plant that are often used in white tea blends. White tea is not simply a tea made from buds, but rather a solar withered tea that is made with minimal processing. Some of the more famous white teas are made from just the buds, so these will be higher in caffeine compared to a typical black tea or oolong.
The tea leaves are picked and dried out in the sun to slow the oxidation process. A white tea made with just the older more mature leaves will be a lower caffeine tea and the tea made from just the white buds will be the highest caffeine tea.
#5 Oolong tea
Oolong tea tends to be made from the older leaves of the tea plant making it one of the lower caffeine tea types. Oolong is perhaps the most processed of the tea types, so it is possible to use older tea leaves and still end up with a smooth, flavorful tea.
These older tea leaves contain less caffeine, which makes oolong not a correct answer to the question which tea has the most caffeine.
#6 Black tea
When you ask most people which tea has the most caffeine, a lot of them will say black tea, but this is actually not the case. Black teas are fully oxidized, meaning that after they are picked they are allowed to oxidize naturally. During this oxidation process, the enzymes convert the catechins into theaflavins and thearubigins.
Black tea has a broad range in terms of caffeine content, but the caffeine tends to be much lower when compared to some of the heavy hitting green teas mentioned earlier on our list. A black tea made with the buds of the tea plant like a Jin Jun Mei can be quite high in caffeine, whereas a black tea made from the older leaves will have a significantly lower caffeine content.
#7 Pu-erh or Heicha
Dark teas or post fermented teas are what some people answer when you ask them which tea has the most caffeine, but this is also incorrect. Dark tea can actually have some of the lowest caffeine content in the world of tea.
Dark teas tend to be made from older tea leaves and they can be fermented for years or even decades after packaging. During the post-fermentation process, the caffeine in the tea leaf is broken down, meaning that the tea aged for the longest time will be the lowest caffeine tea and the tea aged for the shortest time will be the highest caffeine tea in terms of Heicha.
#8 Herbal tea: chamomile, ginger and peppermint
Of course you can’t get much lower in caffeine than “caffeine free”. This is what you get when you drink herbal infusions like chamomile, ginger and peppermint. These are technically not considered teas because they do not come from the tea plant (camelia sinensis), but we thought we would include them on the list anyways to give you a caffeine free alternative.
These drinks are a good way to enjoy a warm healthy and flavorful beverage in the evening time without consuming additional caffeine. Most of these herbal infusions or “tisanes” are caffeine free so feel free to drink away!
How Much Caffeine Is in Tea?
The amount of caffeine in tea depends on a few different factors, which we will discuss later. For simplicity sake, a leaf tea can range anywhere from 8mg of caffeine to 140mg of caffeine per serving. The lower caffeine tea would be something like a roasted kukicha and the highest caffeine tea would be a saemidori gyokuro like the gyokuro cha meijin.
Why Should You Drink Tea for Energy?
If you are looking for a good source of energy, the question of which tea has the most caffeine is not enough, you also need to think about which tea gives you the most sustainable energy. This is where it becomes important to look at the theanine inside of a tea.
Even though a tea like gyokuro has as much caffeine as coffee, you may not notice it quite as much because the tea is also high in theanine. Theanine can help the body slow the absorption of caffeine and also induce a calming effect on the brain.
Instead of getting a quick jolt of jittery energy and a crash later on in the day, you get a longer lasting, sustained energy throughout the day. This is one of the main advantages of drinking green tea for energy, and why many tea drinkers enjoy gyokuro for long periods of work and study.
How the Caffeine in Tea Affects You
Caffeine can block the “sleep receptors” in the body so it is not as triggered by tiredness. It is no replacement for sleep, but it can give you some short term benefits in terms of focus and cognition. Just like with coffee, you can also use tea to help you during athletic training, study or work.
There is of course a risk to drinking too much caffeine. You should generally try and stay below 400mg per day or you may begin to experience side effects. The side effects of consuming too much caffeine include Headache, Insomnia, Nervousness, Irritability and heart palpitations. There are additional side effects that will come the more caffeine you drink, but these are some of the earlier ones you may notice.
How much caffeine is in a cup of tea vs coffee?
A small cup of coffee usually has between 95-105mg of caffeine. While there are some teas that can have more caffeine than that, the vast majority of them fall comfortably below the level of coffee. A typical cup of green or black tea may have around 40mg of caffeine per cup, so anywhere between ½ to ⅓ the caffeine of a cup of coffee.
High Caffeine Teas Can Help If You’re Trying to Limit or Quit Coffee
If you are trying to limit or quit your coffee intake, tea can be a good way to do it. The jolt of energy you get with coffee can really create a dependence, and that can be broken with a slower release of caffeine. Because green teas contain theanine in addition to caffeine, even if you are consuming the same amount of caffeine, it will create less of a dependency because you won’t get this immediate boost of energy. Tea can also be a great way to reduce your caffeine content while still enjoying a delicious beverage.
Which green tea has the most caffeine?
Finally we come to the final answer to the question which tea has the most caffeine and the fairest answer has to be matcha. The big difference is that you can easily add more matcha powder to a single cup of tea and up the caffeine content. If you really want to get specific, matcha prepared in the koicha style will have the highest caffeine content in the world of tea.
Which Japanese tea has the most caffeine?
After matcha, the Japanese green tea with the most caffeine is gyokuro. A strong serving of Saemidori gyokuro can have up to 140mg of caffeine, which is easily double the amount of a normal shaded sencha. If you are looking for a standard leaf tea with a high caffeine content, gyokuro is your best bet.
Can you reduce caffeine in tea?
There are a few different ways to reduce the caffeine content of your tea. One method is to give the first brewing of the tea to a friend and simply enjoy the second brewing of the tea. Most of the caffeine will end up in the first brewing of the tea and the second brewing can sometimes have even more flavor.
Another way to reduce the caffeine content of a green tea is by cold brewing it. Caffeine is pretty hard to extract, so to get all of it out of the leaves you need higher temperatures and longer brewing times. By using cooler water, you can extract a fraction of the total caffeine in the leaves and still enjoy a delicious and refreshing cold brewed tea.