Caffeine free and decaffeinated tea are two entirely different kinds of tea. However, many people, including some tea producers, use those terms interchangeably. Here is what you should know about the difference between caffeine free and decaffeinated teas, especially if you are trying to curb your caffeine intake.
When you purchase a caffeine-free tea, you should expect that all ingredients in this tea naturally do not contain caffeine. Therefore, the caffeine hasn't been commercially removed from the tea ingredients. Herbal teas, or tisanes, are any herbal infusions that are made of flowers, leaves, fruit, seeds, roots, etc. They are naturally 100% caffeine free.
When you imagine herbal tea, you most likely think of dried herbs mixed into a blend or used separately (e.g., chamomile). For those of us who enjoy the smooth flavor of the traditional black tea, a cup of chamomile brew wouldn't do it. Part of the black or green tea's appeal is that it is fermented and the flavor changes depending on the fermentation process. Well, does it mean that you can never have a cup of naturally caffeine-free breakfast brew? Absolutely not! Before you settle for the decaffeinated alternative check out plants, like willowherb or bergenia crassifolia.
Willowherb tea (also known as Ivan Chai or Fireweed Tea) is different from traditional herbal teas because the leaves are fermented using the same technology that's applied to the black, green or white tea.
Bergenia crassifolia tea (also known as Mongolian Tea or Badan) is unique because it's the only tea that is naturally - on the plant, without human involvement - fermented. Hence, you can have your tea and drink it too!
Decaffeinated teas actually still have a little bit (up to 3% of the original caffeine content) of caffeine left in them. Because the initial amount of caffeine can vary dramatically between teas and even harvests of the same tea, there is no way to determine the amount of caffeine remaining in the batch accurately. If the tea is decaffeinated, that means that the tea leaves has undergone a special process to strip the caffeine out of it. There are four different methods used to take the naturally occurring caffeine out of tea leaves using either chemical solvents, carbon dioxide, or water. Each process affects the flavor and consistency of the tea differently.
Many of us have noticed that decaffeinated teas are tasting flat. The truth is that decaffeinated teas simply can't taste as good as their caffeinated options. That is because when the caffeine is removed, other polyphenols that are responsible for the flavor are also getting lost. Tea lovers who are caffeine sensitive or merely attempting to cut down on their caffeine intake prefer fermented herbal teas to traditional decaffeinated alternatives.
If you are tired of your typical English Breakfast or looking for the healthier alternatives to the traditional teas, check out our premium 100% naturally caffeine-free teas!