Decaffeinated tea is great option for those who are caffeine sensitive like me. Alas my hormones go off the rails when I consume even one cup of strong black tea a day. Decaffeinated tea bags are not hard to find in most super markets or online. But what about those of us who prefer loose tea ? What is the process of making decaf loose tea ? Does it compromise the taste or nutritional quality of your beloved brew ?
Tea and coffee both contain tannin which give tea its distinctive astringent taste. But because tea has a much smaller amount of tannin then coffee the decaffeinating process takes more care, Keeping as much tannin as possible is desirable not only because of the flavor but also because of the nutritional properties they provide.
Tannin is antimicrobial and antimutagenic. It can also reduce blood pressure accelerate blood clotting and help the body fight off infection.
There are four methods of tea decaffeinating: carbon dioxide, ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, and water processing how do each of them work and what is the effect of the process on the tea and flavour.
Co2 Carbon dioxide
C02 method is the natural and most safest method of decaffeination. It still keeps the teas flavor and retains teas nutritional benefits. The tea leaves are pressure cooked at a high temperature until they meet critical state where CO2 becomes a solvent and with its small, non-polar molecules it attracts the small caffeine molecules and removes them from the tea leaves.
This method is soaking tea leaves in methylene chloride directly or indirectly, by soaking the water (used to remove the caffeine) in methylene chloride and then returning the water to the tea for re-absorption of flavors and oils. It is a decaffeinating process by which the molecules of caffeine bond to molecules of methylene chloride. It is believed that methylene chloride is not the best possible and or healthiest method of decaffeinating.
Caffeine is extracted in the same way as methylene chloride process. The process is known as a natural decaffeinating because ethyl Acetate is found in tea naturally but people often complain that this method gives the tea a chemical taste.
Caffeine extracted with the water method is not the usual way for decaffeinating tea. It is more popular method for coffee. The caffeine is extracted from the tea by soaking the tea in hot water for a long period. The solution is then passed through a carbon filter. The water is the returned to the tea to re absorb oils and flavors. Unfortunately many report that this method leaves taste of tea watered down.
A good quality Decaf loose tea can be a little tricky to locate but a worthwhile purchase. What ever method your prefer I hope this has helped to give you little more information about the process.
Any questions please feel free to leave a message below. I would love to hear from you.