Most people are probably aware that a cup of tea can be a stimulating experience thanks to the caffeine it contains, but the kick you get from tea is actually more complicated than that.
The effect that a particular type of tea will have on you depends largely on how it has been prepared. How much tea you have used and how long you left it to brew will also be affected by how sensitive you are to the stimulants in tea. Additional factors such as what stage of growth the leaves were picked can also have an effect.
Caffeine is the most stimulating ingredient of tea. It dissolves very quickly, infusing itself into the water within just one or two minutes. However, if you leave your tea to brew for four to eight minutes, tannin will be released.
Tannin, found in tea leaves, impedes the absorption of caffeine into the body. If you are a frequent drinker of strong tea, the caffeine content can have a stimulating effect over a 12 hour period. A weaker tea brewed quickly, gives a shorter term, but stronger caffeine boost. A longer brewing time will therefore prevent you from being over-stimulated by a strong dose of caffeine.
The stimulating effect of tea is much milder than what you would get from drinking coffee. Too much caffeine can be bad for you, and is linked to high blood pressure. If you want to reduce the amount of caffeine in your tea leaves, drop them into boiling water for about 30 seconds, then scoop them back out using a small sieve. Use these leaves to make your cup of tea immediately following being soaked. A large amount of the caffeine will have been removed and you can simply toss away the water they were soaked in.
A level teaspoons’ worth of loose tea leaves for each cupful, brewed between four and six minutes, will give you a good boost of caffeine without being too strong. For a milder taste with less caffeine, simply soak your leaves first and reduce the brewing time.