I must openly and somewhat ashamedly admit that I have been perpetuating a myth, albeit one that I truly believed! The wide-spread belief that a 30-second hot water bath will remove most of the caffeine in tea has been so widely proclaimed that it may never die, even though it has been proven to be untrue.
Some of the tea industries’ most highly respected tea connoisseurs, including tea expert and author James Norwood Pratt, have publicly stated that their long-held beliefs in the hot water decaf bath were ill-informed. In a T Ching blog post, Pratt stated, “I’m grateful for the chance to repudiate past errors, of which the misinformation on decaffeinating tea ranks amongst my most egregious. When I wrote this ten years ago this hear-say was the conventional wisdom.”
Even though Bruce Richardson, whom MSN called “a leading tea expert involved in tea’s American renaissance for over 20 years,” financed extensive and extremely expensive lab studies to chemically dispel this misconception that caffeine can simply be washed away, many still battle back defiantly with their “thoughts” on the 30 second decaf process.
There will likely always will be two schools of thought on the subject, but from what I have recently learned about the science of tea, I have to join the “Myth Busted” class on this one. According to a most authoritative article Caffeine and Tea: Myth and Reality, written by Nigel Melican – Founder and Director of Teacraft, LTD., even the delicate and presumably low caffeine white tea leaves may contain more caffeine than most green teas! In Melican’s conclusion, he humorously reflects, “Science apart does anyone really believe that Lipton would use extremely expensive decaffeination systems…if a cheap effective 30 second water dip suffices? They have tested water decaffeination – and it failed.”
One of many things I was reminded of after reading an abundance of information available on this subject is that tea is and always has been a refreshing and invigorating drink. Originally consumed with little concern over caffeine levels, tea was simply drank because of its uplifting flavors and the added bonus of putting the mind in a calmer more meditative state. I’ve personally witnessed it over and over in my tea shop, those who come through my doors in a flurry of shopping and errands and worries, but after sipping a cup of tea decide that the world can wait for just a moment.
Søren M. Chr. Bisgaard from Kyoto, Japan recently stated “I believe in the old Chinese (and later Japanese) saying that “Tea is the Elixir of Life.” This gentleman’s mother and father are both approaching 100 years old, and he says that, largely due to the drinking of tea, he fully expects to celebrate his own 120th birthday one day. I hope to be around to honor him on that occasion. I won’t be worried about the level of caffeine in my cup, but more about the level of enjoyment my life has held.
“None of us knows all there is to know about tea but to benefit the age-old Tea Society to which we all belong, let our knowledge, like our tea, be shared and our ignorance, like our thirst, overcome.” James Norwood Pratt
As always, remember Wilkinson’s Keeps it Fresh!