by Emeric Harney September 17, 2018 3 min read 8 Comments
There are two different ways to decaffeinate tea. At Harney and Sons, we use Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Ethyl Acetate to make our decaf teas. Read on to learn more about our decaffeination process.
What Is the Difference Between Decaffeinated Tea & Caffeine Free Teas?
All teas made from Camellia Sinensis contain natural levels of caffeine. Caffeine is one of many self-defense chemicals that a tea uses to defend itself in this cruel world. Pound for pound there is more caffeine in tea than coffee, but who drinks a pound of tea? So cup for cup, tea is much less. In fact, you have to drink 3 cups of tea to get the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee.
Different parts of the tea leaves have different levels of caffeine. The delicious but defenseless tea buds have the most, green teas have slightly less and black teas even less. Of course, you steep black tea longer than green tea, so it is a bit complicated. Still, it is correct to say that there is more caffeine in white tea than black tea. The decaffeination process almost eliminates all of the caffeine.
Caffeine-free "teas" are not teas at all but blends of herbs, flowers, spices and dried fruit. When there is only a single ingredient, such as ourPeppermint, these are referred to as Tisanes.
The Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Tea Decaffeination Method
The Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Tea Decaffeination Method, is how we decaffeinate our loose teas. Choosing to use this process ensures that we don’t lose the flavors and health benefits you love in our caffeinated teas when we remove the caffeine. When put through this process, our tea leaves are placed with naturally occurring gas, CO2, at a high pressure and high temperature. The carbon dioxide reaches a “super-critical state” where CO2 becomes almost a liquid solvent, and it attracts the caffeine molecules and removes them from the tea. Since flavor molecules are larger than caffeine molecules, they remain intact so the flavor of tea remains the same.
The Ethyl Acetate Decaffeination Method
Ethyl acetate is used to decaffeinate the tea found in our teabags. During this process, the molecules of caffeine bond to the molecules of ethyl acetate and are removed. Our customers prefer this method for our teabags.
The Water Processing Decaffeination Method (Swiss Water Method) and the Methylene Chloride Decaffeination Method
There are 2 other methods used for hard coffee beans, but these methods do not work for fragile tea leaves - the Water Processing Decaffeination Method, also known as the Swiss Water Method, and the Methylene Chloride Decaffeination Method.
DIY Decaffeination Method
Many tea lovers believe that if they steep their favorite caffeinated tea, dump the water, then steep again it will decrease the amount of caffeine in the cup. Unfortunately, this is a bit of an old wives tale. Studies show that tea keeps giving off caffeine for about 8 minutes. This method is not recommended as it dilutes the flavor of your tea.
No matter your reason for drinking caffeine-free tea, whether it’s doctor’s orders or sleeplessness, you can find a flavor of decaf tea you’ll love at Harney & Sons. Want to learn more about our teas and our process? Visit these quick-reads below:
January 28, 2022
Jasmine Black Tea Decaffeinated (CO2)?
My friends and I just love your Jasmine Black Tea but we are all having trouble sleeping.
Do you carry a Black Jasmine Tea Decaffeinated? I sure hope that if you don’t carry it – that soon you will consider to add this product to your wonderful line of teas.
February 07, 2022
Was about to place my order for Decaf Hot Cinnamon Spice Sachets when I read that ethyl acetate is used during the decaffeination process. Yikes! Not healthy. So sorry to read this. This tea had become an important part of my morning routine.
Please reconsider using the carbon dioxide method.
December 14, 2021
I also would prefer you used the co2 method for all your tea. Especially at this price point. I wouldn’t buy the tea bags knowing thats the method you use. I just prefer the co2 method. I will have to look at your loose leaf options but prefer tea bags for convenience.
April 01, 2021
I, too, am curious why you think teabag users prefer the ethyl acetate method? I use both loose tea and teabags at different times, and would prefer the CO2 method for both.
September 13, 2020
Is this method healthy? Does it remove the benefits of tea. I have to drink decaf for health reasons.
April 14, 2020
First, let me say I LOVE your tea and have been ordering for awhile. Lately, I have been trying to eat healthier and cleaner removing unwanted chemicals and perservatives from my diet. Then I started researching decaffination methods. Why do you use the Ethyl Acetate Decaffeination Method for your tea bags? I am reading that Ethyl Acetate is used in solvents, nail polish remover etc… I know humans have a certain amount of tolerance for the substance yet would think that you would want your tea to be the healthiest/nautral choice for your customers. Adding chemicals to your natural tea products is concerning. Othe organic tea companies use the CO2 method for their tea bags which is mandated to be organic. I can only assume this method is more cost effective for you and therefore out weighs the customer’s health since the majority is not informed.
February 17, 2020
Can you buy your tea in Australia ?
If so which stores sell it please
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Enjoy getting to know Tsuyoshi Sugimoto, the owner and president of Shohokuenchten tea company in Kyoto, Japan, and a longtime colleague and friend of the Harneys.
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January 25, 2023
Thank you for the transparency. I love tea, but like many am kept awake when I drink it in the evening. So I came here to see if you have decaf. I’m grateful you decaf your loose teas using the CO2 method, as I’m highly allergic to teas that use the ethyl acetate method. Please don’t ever change the way you decaf loose tea, and hopefully, you will choose to use the CO2 method for all your teas one day.