Caffeine is one of the hot topics today among health-conscious people. It is consumed by 80-90% of American adults on a daily basis, making it one of the most commonly used pharmacologically active substances in our society. With such vast numbers getting their caffeine kicks, questions arise such as "How does caffeine affect my body? How much is safe to consume? What are the alternatives?"
First off, what is it? Caffeine is a bitter white alkaloid, the methylxanthine called 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. It is a natural substance found in at least 63 different types of plants, coffee beans, tea leaves and cocoa being the most common.
When consumed in moderation, caffeine, a mild central nervous system stimulant, can have numerous positive effects on the body such as a feeling of increased energy, uplifted mood, increased focus and reaction time. A small amount of caffeine may benefit people suffering from mild depression.
On the downside, even small doses can have undesirable physiological effects on the body that include anxiety, increased blood pressure and pulse, constricting superficial blood vessels, difficulty falling asleep and disruption of rapid eye movement and dreaming while asleep. According to some studies, caffeine causes calcium depletion. It also increases the painkilling effect of aspirin and acetaminophen and is thus often found, for instance, in migraine medicines.
Both the American Medical Association and the American Cancer Society have issued strong statements regarding the effects of caffeine. Many health practitioners and nutritionists will also advise consumers to decrease your consumption gradually over a period of days or weeks to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
One of the best ways to cut back on caffeine, or eliminate it almost entirely, is by drinking non-caffeinated or decaffeinated ea. First, there are a couple of things you need to know.
Surprisingly, tea, per pound of leaf, contains more caffeine than coffee, per pound of bean. However, since more ground coffee is required to brew a single cup than tea is required to brew one cup of tea, the average cup of tea contains less than half the caffeine of the average cup of coffee.
The caffeine content of tea depends on where it was grown, brewing method used, type of tea and the temperature of the water used for brewing it. Contrary to popular opinion, green tea does not always contain less caffeine than black tea, which is another surprise for most people.
How to Remove Caffeine from Tea
The biggest surprise is that approximately 80% of the water soluble caffeine in tea is released during the first 30 seconds of brewing. So, to remove most of the caffeine from your tea, simply pour boiling water over the loose-leaf tea leaves in your teapot, allow the tea to steep for 30 seconds, and then discard the liquid. Use the same tea leaves with fresh hot water to brew a close to fully decaffeinated cup of tea for drinking.
You will find this process highly effective, allowing you to enjoy the originally caffeinated teas you love without major concern over caffeine content. Test it for yourself and you will see that it works.
Be sure to use only loose-leaf, premium-grade teas instead of the tea in teabags. Unlike teabags loose-leaf teas can be brewed over and over again until you have depleted the leaves of their wonderful natural flavor. This means that the same teaspoonful of tea can produce two, three or more cups of tea all from the same leaves. It is nearly impossible to brew a second worthwhile-tasting cup of coffee from the same grounds, or a good second cup of tea from most of the off-the-shelf supermarket teas sold in teabags.
No More Jitters!
If you have been a diehard coffee devotee for years, we recommend you switch over to caffeinated strong black teas first, so you won't miss your little kick. Slowly start decaffeinating these same quality leaves until you no longer feel withdrawal symptoms — typically headaches and sluggishness. In fact, you may start feeling better than ever soon — after all, besides incredible taste, tea is considered by many as the healthiest beverage on the planet. To get started, find someone who is knowledgeable about the various types of tea and willing to help you with your selection, based on your personal taste preferences.