The World’s First EVER Naturally Caffeine Free Tea Discovered
The world’s first naturally caffeine free tea plants have been discovered in China!
We are so excited about the recent discovery brought to us and published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in November 2018. Wild tea plants high up in the mountains in Fujian, Southern China are at the heart of this news. And astoundingly, they appear to be naturally caffeine free! That’s right, NATURALLY caffeine free tea! Read on to find out more – we’re so excited we even made a wee video about it (check it out below)!
Naturally caffeine free tea
Naturally caffeine free tea is a huge deal. It is the World’s first ever discovery of caffeine free tea. Researchers conducted high-performance liquid chromatography analysis and found that the plants contain virtually no caffeine. Interestingly, they also found some potentially health-promoting compounds that are not found in regular tea. Wow, as if it could not get any better right!? According to the scientists, there could be a mutation in the gene encoding the caffeine enzyme synthase. This research was reported in the science Daily magazine back on the 8th of December 2018.
As you could (and should) guess, tea is many people’s beverage of choice all over the world. It’s the second most consumed drink in the world, next only to water! It can be good for you and there are an abundance of reported health benefits. However, it does also contain caffeine. Tea does wonders to keep you refreshed and alert at the same time. However, the caffeine can occasionally have side effects for some people. For example, of course, it’s not a great idea to drink it close to bedtime. A brewed cup of tea has at least half as much caffeine as a brewed cup of coffee though. So no need to get completely flustered!
Did you know… Americans drank almost 4 billion gallons of tea in 2017? This is according to the Tea Association of the USA. Can you believe that!? That is a lot of tea. It is also estimated that up to 18% of those drinks were decaffeinated. It is estimated that around 60.2 billion cups of tea are drunk annually in the UK. The UK Tea and Infusions Associations are certainly putting tea into perspective for us. If a similar percentage of us here in the UK are drinking decaf like our American counterparts, then that’s adding up to lot of decaf tea.
So, how is tea decaffeinated?
Tea leaves are commonly decaffeinated using carbon dioxide or hot water treatments. However, these methods can often affect the tea’s flavour and potentially destroy compounds in the tea associated with health benefits. Some people think that they can decaffeinate tea at home by brewing it for 30 seconds, discarding the liquor and brewing it again. How easy it would be if that was true! Unfortunately, this is simply an urban myth. The caffeine levels in your tea are influenced by many factors! These include water temperature, brewing time and the amount of leaves used.
This discovery of the rare wild mountain tea, Hongyacha (HYC), is exciting because the plant is real tea, not a herbal alternative. It’s the first reported finding of a Camelia Sinensis bush that contains no detectable amounts of caffeine. Ever, in the existence of the World!! It is really big news! We still cannot wrap our heads around it. It is truly remarkable, as even decaffeinated teas contain a residual amount of caffeine (typically around 2.5 percent).
So what does the future hold? A comparable finding in the coffee world was made back in 2004 by researchers from the University of Campinas in Brazil. They isolated a strain of Coffea Arabica that was naturally caffeine free. Their findings were reported in the New Scientist, 23 June 2004.
The coffee plants seemed to lack caffeine synthase (as with Hongyacha) which is the enzyme in leaves that converts a compound called theobromine into caffeine. There was talk of this strain being bred into popular types of coffee but to date that doesn’t seem to have happened. It is not known how much of the new Hongyacha tea is available. We are certainly curious! I wonder whether this discovery will fizzle away to nothing? Or will the tea industry manage to make something of it? While you’re waiting, if you’re cutting down on caffeine try some naturally decaffeinated tea? eteaket has some fantastic choices such as Decaf Breakfast, Decaf Royal Earl Grey or a caffeine free herbal alternative like Big Red Rooibos.
For the love of tea!
There’s always something new to discover or create in the tea world and that is partly why I love it so much. Imagine how long those special bushes have been in existence and we’ve only just discovered them now. I can only imagine what other discoveries and tea surprises are in store for us!
Erica, founder, eteaket Tea.
 Hongyacha, a Naturally Caffeine-Free Tea Plant from Fujian, China
Ji-Qiang Jin, Yun-Feng Chai, Yu-Fei Liu, Jing Zhang, Ming-Zhe Yao, and Liang Chen.
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2018 66 (43), 11311-11319.
 ScienceDaily, 8 November 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181108130508.htm