With the exception of water, more people in the world consume tea than any other beverage, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc. While tea has a number of health benefits, it also contains a significant amount of caffeine. This caffeine can have many positive effects, such as helping you feel more alert or giving you increased energy. However, you run the risk of becoming addicted to caffeine if you consume tea too frequently or in large quantities. If you are concerned about the effect that the caffeine in tea is having on your health, consult your doctor.
Caffeine in Tea
While the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea varies depending on several factors, the average 8-oz. cup contains 40 to 120 mg of caffeine. White, oolong and green tea may contain less caffeine than black tea. The amount of caffeine found in tea is less than coffee, energy drinks or caffeine pills, but tea contains slightly more caffeine than most sodas. The risk of caffeine addiction may be slightly higher for tea than for soda but slightly less than for coffee.
Many people feel the effects of caffeine most strongly when they first begin consuming the drug. Common effects of caffeine include increased alertness or energy, nervousness and difficulty sleeping. As you become physically dependent on caffeine, you may notice that the effects of caffeine are not as pronounced. This is because your body has adjusted to having caffeine present in your system. You begin to need more of the drug in order to have the effect you used to experience. This increased tolerance to caffeine is the biggest sign of caffeine addiction.
If you become addicted to caffeine, you likely will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms whenever you do not have the usual amount of caffeine in your system. These effects may include headaches, tiredness, irritability or muscle aches. Withdrawal symptoms usually go away almost immediately after resuming your caffeine consumption.
To prevent yourself from being physically dependent on caffeine, limit the amount of caffeine you consume. You can lower the amount of caffeine in your tea by using one tea bag for multiple servings of tea, by shortening the length of time you brew the tea or by lowering the temperature of the water of your tea. Switching from black tea to green, white, oolong or herbal tea also may help you limit your overall caffeine consumption. Try to replace caffeinated beverages with decaffeinated or caffeine-free options whenever possible, and avoid consuming highly caffeinated beverages regularly. To prevent caffeine withdrawal symptoms, slowly decrease your caffeine consumption rather than stopping it abruptly.
- Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc: Tea Fact Sheet
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: Caffeine Content of Food & Drugs
- Aetna InteliHealth: Caffeine: Performance, Addiction and Myth
- MayoClinic.com: How Much is Too Much?
- University of Michigan Health Systems: Tea
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Sleep and Caffeine
Elizabeth Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, health, psychology, mental health and education. Wolfenden holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in counseling from Oakland University.