Autumn 2012 True Natural Health Magazine – Your Questions Answered
By Roger French
QUESTION: Many years ago, we Aussies used to drink mainly tea; now almost everyone is drinking coffee. Caffeine is getting some bad press. How much caffeine is there in coffee and tea, and what about so-called ‘energy drinks’?
There is not a fixed amount of caffeine in coffee, tea, iced tea, energy drinks or chocolate. The amount varies depending on many factors including brand, type of coffee or tea, brewing method and brewing time. In fact, various sources give different figures, so the following figures are somewhat ‘rubbery’. All that I can give here are typical ranges for each kind of drink or food.
Coffee. The common kinds are Robusta and Arabica. Robusta is often used in cheaper coffees and instant coffees and contains almost twice as much caffeine as the more commonly used Arabica. Caffeine quantities for a 150 ml cup:
Drip-brewed Robusta 120 – 180 mg.
Drip-brewed Arabica 70 – 120 mg.
Instant coffee 20 – 115 mg.
Instant decaf coffee 2 – 10 mg.
Tea. Caffeine quantities are for one tea bag steeped for 3 minutes in a 200 ml cup:
Black tea 60 – 90 mg. For other steeping times 35 – 105 mg.
Green tea 55 – 65 mg. For other steeping times 25 – 75 mg.
White tea 55 – 65 mg. For other steeping times 25 – 75 mg.
Iced tea. Typically 42 mg per bottle.
‘Energy drinks’. Red Bull 240 ml can, 80 mg. Other brands 70 – 100 mg per can.
Cola drinks. In a 375 ml can, 50 – 70 mg.
Chocolate. Per 100 gm: dark 70 mg; milk 20 mg; white 0 mg.
Herbal Teas, including dandelion ‘coffee’ – almost all are caffeine free.
An account of the harmful effects of caffeine is a big subject in itself. In short, it is a nerve ‘toxin’ that causes the heart rate and circulation to rev up as the body pushes more blood through the liver and kidneys in order to eliminate the caffeine rapidly. This is how caffeine can cause heart palpitations. The increased circulation also goes to the brain and muscles, which makes us more alert, unable to sleep and more active.
But nothing is free in this world, and after half a day or so, the stimulation is over and the body goes into physiological depression as it attempts to recoup the nerve energy that was squandered in the emergency elimination. Then we reach for another cup and the cycle is repeated. Eventually, the depression becomes so acute that we are addicted.
Caffeine is so addictive that a medical doctor once told me that, as an ex-heroin addict, he believed that if caffeine was consumed in the same concentrations as heroin, it would be just as addictive.
Best to develop a taste for herb teas, dandelion ‘coffee’ or cereal ‘coffee’.