What process does tea undergo to lose its caffeine content?
We have all heard of Decaf tea – This is basically a type of tea that has had all the caffeine artificially removed. Caffeine naturally occurs in many plants and beans including the Camellia Sinensis plant (tea), Coffee Beans and cocoa. Some teas contain no natural caffeine but these are usually Herbal Teas and not true blends of tea using leaves from the Sinensis plant. Decaf Tea is considered a healthy option as caffeine can have various detrimental effects when consumed in excess. These effects include increased blood pressure, shakes, insomnia and an increase in anxiety and tension. So how exactly is tea decaffeinated?
What substances can be decaffeinated? Any natural plant or organic material that contains caffeine can be decaffeinated. Typical decaf substances include coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa.
What process is used to decaffeinate tea? Tea is generally decaffeinated using the CO2 process. The technical name for this is called Supercritical Fluid Extraction. This process involves sealing the tea leaves in an extractor and subjecting it to powerful pressurized blasts of CO2 – the Carbon Dioxide acts as a solvent and strips away the caffeine from the leaves. Once the Carbon Dioxide has absorbed the caffeine, it is then transferred and evaporated to a separate container. Tea can also be naturally decaffeinated by simply steeping it in hot water. When tea leaves are steeped, caffeine is released therefore by steeping your tea first, throwing the water away and then re-steeping the leaves, you can remove a high portion of the caffeine.
Does this totally remove every trace of caffeine? It should be important to remember that Decaf tea will still have some trace of caffeine – This is a natural chemical that occurs in tea and nature, therefore, all traces of it can never be fully removed.