How to Naturally Decaffeinate Green Tea

Green tea is well known for its health properties.  Recently, it has become popular for its antioxidants, which have been purported to reduce heart disease and cancer rates.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners sometimes will add green tea to an herbal formula, primarily for headaches.

In Chinese culture, green tea is the staple drink.  Unlike in the West, in China people will refill their tea cup many times with water, using the same tea leaves.

Not only is refilling the cup efficient and cost effective, by doing this one is drinking more of the antioxidants from the tea.

The majority of the caffeine is extracted from tea within 30 seconds of brewing.  So the refills have very little caffeine in them, but continue to extract other substances.

For most people, the small amount of caffeine in green tea is fine. For people with inflammation and anxiety even a little caffeine is too much.

Washing the Tea: How to Naturally Decaffeinate your Green Tea

It is easy to decaffeinate green tea yourself without loosing much of the taste or health benefits.  Most of the caffeine is extracted within the first 30 seconds of brewing the tea.

To naturally remove the caffeine from the tea, quickly brew the tea and discard the water after 20-30 second.   Refill the cup with hot water, and you have a naturally decaffeinated cup of tea.  This process is called “washing the tea.”

When drinking more refine types of tea, the custom is to wash the tea.  This is also part of the traditional Tea Ceremony.

There are other regional types of teas and styles of brewing.  Some regions brew the tea at lower temperatures.


Green Tea in Chinese Medicine

There are many varieties of tea.  Just as in New York, there are many varieties of apples.  But they all come from the same plant, the difference is in the extent of their oxidizing, breeding, and region.

Green tea is cool in nature and as opposed to black tea which is warmer.  Green tea helps to clear heat and drain dampness. As I mentioned before, it can also be used for headaches.  Add ginger for headaches from damp weather.

When to Drink Green Tea

Because green tea is cooler, I prefer to drink more green tea in the summer and more black tea in the winter.  For some people with weak digestion, green tea may upset your stomach.  This is due to its cooling properties.

Oolong tea is somewhat neutral and is a good alternative for people who find green tea a little upsetting to the stomach.

I always recommend drinking organic tea.  I generally purchase my tea at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Or here in New York, Ten Ren is a very good tea shop in Chinatown.

photo: bkajino

Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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