We all know green tea is the bomb, in terms of benefiting in the health of our bodies. In fact green is so potent that it helps prevents cardiovascular disease, lowers your cholesterol levels, reduces tooth decay, fights the cause of allergies in your body, inhibit cells from developing cancer, slows the aging process, prevents or reduces acne and the list goes on. So you may be wondering how in the hell can green tea be bad for you? One word…caffeine!
Most of us equate caffeine with coffee but caffeine can also be found in tea! Caffeine occurs naturally in tea and can be beneficial because it increases alertness but only for a while, what sets in afterwards is crash and burn or sudden fatigue. The reason for the sudden change in alertness is because caffeine hinders adenosine, a chemical found in the body that communicates to the system when to rest due to exhaustion, but hindering the adenosine on a constant basis can lead to the negative side effects of caffeine such as addiction.
Caffeine like any other stimulate is addictive. Once dependent on your caffeine fix the body begins to crave the change in alertness and mood elevation. Yes, caffeine can improve our mood because it increases the dopamine levels, but once addiction sets in we can become irritable, tired and depressed if a caffeine fix is not implemented but addiction is only part of the equation to the negative side effects that result from too much caffeine. Below are the negative and positive side effects of caffeine and a few tips on how to reduce caffeine from any tea, including decaffeinated teas that are not caffeine free!
Negative Side Effects of Caffeine
Panic Attacks: Caffeine keeps us up because it triggers the fight-or-flight mechanism in our bodies. But after heavy doses of caffeine and after many hours of it being in our system, the fight-or-flight instinct gets reduced to panic attacks. Your hands become shaky, your skin sweaty, and you always expect bad things to happen to you.
Dehydration: One would think that since coffee is liquid, it can hydrate you. Actually, the caffeine in coffee and any other foodstuffs that has it is linked with dehydration. That is mainly because of caffeine’s diuretic properties.
PMS: Women who drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of chocolates tend to experience pre-menstrual syndrome more acutely than women who do not. The headaches, the bloated feeling and the belly cramps become keener with the added consumption of caffeine.
Emotional Fatigue: Caffeine wakes up the body, but what it fails to do is to tell the body when to stop moving and simply rest. The body needs rest and when the body does not get it, it can lead not just to physical tiredness but also emotional fatigue.
Positive Side Effects of Caffeine
Alertness: Caffeine keeps our minds alert, even for just an hour or two. Regular consumption of caffeine can keep our minds more active and increase our brain power.
Parkinson’s Disease: Studies have shown that it is highly possible for caffeine to prevent the occurrence of Parkinson’s disease. The purported reason is that caffeine keeps the dopamine in the system active. Dopamine is the chemical that activates the pleasure centers in the brain.
Heart Disease: Caffeine is said to prevent heart disease – as long as you do not already have it in the first place. That is because caffeine is an antioxidant, and antioxidants prevent heart ailments and some forms of cancer.
Diabetes: Caffeine triggers the production of adrenaline and cortisol – two substances associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response. When these chemicals are released into the system, they cause the liver to burn up more sugar. However, this works only with the caffeinated foodstuffs that are not sweetened.
Stamina: Again, this has something to do with the fight-or-flight response. Consuming caffeine before workout or doing any athletic activity slows down the adenosine that causes muscle fatigue. This makes you move faster and endure more.
Caffeine is good for the body, but it is also bad if the intake is too much. Too much is defined as more than 300mg of caffeine every day. In order to measure and monitor the amount of caffeine you are taking in daily and to reduce the negative side effects of caffeine, do some caffeine testing with your food.
How to Reduce Caffeine in your Tea
The amount of caffeine in green tea varies from type to type. A cup of green tea can contain anywhere from 15mg of caffeine to 75 mg of caffeine, or even more for some types of Matcha Green Tea. There are many factors that influence the level of caffeine in tea, but you can reduce caffeine in your green teas with these techniques:
On average, tea leaves contain 3% caffeine by weight, although this can range from 1.4% to 4.5%
• Drink “twig teas.” “Twig teas” are made from the twigs, or stems, of the tea plant. They are naturally very low in caffeine. Popular twig teas include Kukicha and Houjicha.
• Drink green teas that are not shade grown. Matcha and Gyokuro are naturally very high in caffeine because they are shade-grown teas. (Shade-grown teas react to a lack of sunlight by increasing their levels of chlorophyll and some other chemical compounds, including caffeine.)
• Avoid powdered green teas. Powdered green teas, such as Matcha, are consumed as a suspension instead of an infusion. That means you’re drinking the leaf instead of an infusion of the leaf, and you’re consuming every last bit of caffeine it has to offer.
• Opt for decaf green tea. Decaf green teas are NOT caffeine free, but they are lower in caffeine than other green teas. Just don’t fall for the home decaf myth — despite rumors to the contrary, there is no scientifically proven way to decaffeinate tea at home!
• Drink whole-leaf green tea instead of green teabags. Teabags have more caffeine than loose-leaf tea (usually).
• Drink less tippy green teas. Tea buds or “tips” are typically higher in caffeine than older, more mature leaves. For that reason, spring harvest teas (like Shincha) are often (but not always) higher in caffeine than late-harvest teas (like Bancha).
• Drink green tea blends. A blended green tea, such as a 50-50 blend of lemongrass and green tea or mint and green tea, typically contains about half the caffeine of its unblended counterpart.
• Brew green tea correctly. Many people use boiling water to brew green tea, or brew green tea for more than three to four minutes. This increases the level of caffeine in your cup. Instead, use simmering water and brew for 30 seconds to four minutes, with an opti mal brew time of one-and-a-half minutes to three minutes for many green teas.
For those who are sensitive to caffeine, we recommend using a little less leaf and brewing your teas with slightly cooler water for a shorter period of time. Green, white and lightly oxidized oolong teas are good choices, as they tend to benefit from lower water temperatures and shorter steeping times.
Since nearly 80% of the caffeine will be extracted within 30 seconds of steeping, you can easily remove most of the caffeine in any tea by following these guidelines:
Steep the tea in hot water for 45 seconds. Discard the liquid. Then, add water to the leaves and brew for the amount of time that is appropriate for that particular tea.
* If you want a caffeine-free “tea” with a flavor that’s roughly akin to green tea, a caffeine-free herbal tea / tisane like jiaogulan, green rooibos or lemon balm is recommended.