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Decaffeinating Tea Technique


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I few years back, Kevin Knox, the author of Coffee Basics, but who secretly is more into teas, told me that you can decaf tea by pouring on the hot water, immediately draining it, then pour the water on again to steep. His claim was that a chemically processed tea was 92% caffeine free, while this method made it nearly 98%.

For sake of his reputation, I'll admit that my memory can veer after a few years, so this may not be what he said at all. But, I've spread the info as gospel ever since. Is this true?

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Perhaps, something like this?

Sounds like you may be on to something.

According to that article:

A traditional and effective way to [remove the caffeine], says Veytia, is to pour a little bit of hot water into the leaves and then swirl the mixture around for about 30 seconds. Next you simply pour the water off [...] caffeine is the first photochemical to infuse into the water, so by pouring off the first batch of water, you are pouring off between 80 and 90 percent of the caffeine that was in the tealeaves.

So the stated facts in the article are a little different from Rob's, but it's the right idea, anyway. I would be concerned by flavor loss, though, with a 30-second steep that gets discarded.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Flavor loss is my biggest issue. I love a jasmine pearl or lychee black, both of which are very sweet, but when I do a pour off, the sweetness is virtually gone - and I only do an immediate pour off not a 30 second on. I add agave back in, but its not the same.

And 80% v. 98% is a big difference, but that's not a deal killer for me.

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I used to work in a tea shop and they taught us this decaf technique. Caffeine in tealeaves is released only within the first 45 - 60 seconds. So tea that is brewed for a longer time doesn't necessarily mean it has higher caffeine content - it's just stronger, darker. But this technique doesn't work well with low quality teas, flavoured/scented teas, or teabags because of the flavour loss.

I've also heard that this is similar to some types of coffee decaffeination....?

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Unfortunately, this sounds like a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Sure, one gets rid of much (though not all) of the caffeine, but it it must, I would think and as Rob suggested, come at considerable expense of some of the other nuances from the tea.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The short answer would seem to be "no". If you'd like a long answer, have a look at this post from Cha Dao:

http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/02/caffein...nd-reality.html

Thanks,

Bill

http://www.teaguyspeaks.com

I few years back, Kevin Knox, the author of Coffee Basics, but who secretly is more into teas, told me that you can decaf tea by pouring on the hot water, immediately draining it, then pour the water on again to steep.  His claim was that a chemically processed tea was 92% caffeine free, while this method made it nearly 98%.

For sake of his reputation, I'll admit that my memory can veer after a few years, so this may not be what he said at all.  But, I've spread the info as gospel ever since.  Is this true?

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