Drinking tea to survive

Antique Georgian tea caddy with flower basket marquetry inlay (click on photo to go to site).

ROY CHURCH talks about the History of Tea

ROY: Tea drinking goes back at least 6,000 years. As the human population grew and settled in urban cities so did the incidence of water born diseases Successful urban populations searched for an alternative to drinking water. In the Far East they drank tea, in Africa Rooibos or red bush tea (click here to read an article about African Rooibis Tea), in Europe and America they brewed or distilled various alcoholic drinks. Only populations which found a successful alternative to water survived. Next time you go to a drinks party which includes westernised Chinese or Japanese observe how the women in particular very quickly develop rosy cheeks after drinking alcohol – this is because their genes, unlike westerners, cannot cope with alcohol. Tea drinking in the Far East was intertwined with religion and the growing, harvesting and production of tea was very closely guarded. Early British traders to the Far East soon started bringing tea back to U.K. when its value could be more than gold and its effect stronger than heroine. That is why genuine Georgian tea caddies (like the photo above) always have locks on them.

Roy Church is an ex Assam Tea Planter who lives in England. He was one of my key research sources for Teatime for the Firefly. Roy is a keen fisherman and ‘shikari’ (hunter) and and we spend hours talking about tea, tea growing and tea life. He is a wonderful writer and has documented several historical articles on tea for KoiHai.

The darker side of Decafs!

POST UPDATED ON 07/15/2016

More than 60 varieties of plants contain caffeine. The better known ones are Tea, Coffee, Cocoa and Kola Nuts. Cocoa is fairly low in caffeine but is high in a compound called ‘Theabromine’ which has a caffeine like effect and explains the ‘lift’ one feels after eating chocolate!

Take a look at this caffeine breakdown (FYI drip filter coffee tops the list)

Drip Filter Coffee     150 mg per cup.

Percolated Coffee    120 mg per cup

Instant Coffee        100 mg per cup

Black Tea               30 to 70 mg per cup

Green Tea              10 to 40 mg per cup

Soda/Cola               45 mg per can

In moderation, caffeine is a benefit ­- stimulating the metabolism, increasing brain function and alertness. Because caffeine from tea does not take effect for 10-15 minutes, it provides a subtle lift ­not the sudden jolt of coffee. (Four cups of tea does not allow the caffeine level to go beyond the 250 mg stipulated by the American Psychiatric Association.) 


Caffeine is removed from tea using industrial processes and strong chemicals which may be more harmful to health in the long run than the caffeine itself. You may be surprised to learn what the chemicals used in decaffeination are:

 1. Ethyl Acetate–this is nail polish remover

2. Methylene Chloride–by another name it’s a paint stripper

3. Liquid CO2– This method is expensive and the equipment to liquefy the CO2 operates at 300 bars (the pressure in a car tyre is 3 bars). 

Practically all the decaffeinated teas on Supermarket shelves have undergone methods 1 and 2. There is no mention of residuals etc – and the teas taste awful. 


Here is a simple home decaffeination method: 

Because caffeine is readily soluble in hot water, if you infuse a regular tea bag or loose leaf tea for 20 seconds, discard the brew and pour fresh boiling water over the partially spent leaves, the resultant cuppa will have 75% less caffeine. It’s that simple to do your own decaffeination! But would the producers of decaffeinated teas tell you this?”

Please note: The above theory has been DEBUNKED by one of my readers  

Please read the following links for clarification:

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400659/Decaffeinating-Tea.html and http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/02/caffeine-and-tea-myth-and-reality.html

Many thanks for this new information. I am always learning .

I received an interesting question from Sam Donovan on the subject of Salicylates. Never having heard the word before, I turned it over to Larry Brown. I am including the information here as this subject may be of interest to others.
QUESTION: I need to drink decaf because the decaffeination process reduces the salicylates which I am sensitive to. I would like to know if using your method of infusing black tea for a few seconds would also work for me. I find the Yorkshire decaf really tasty myself but I would hate to think I’m ingesting those chemicals. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Also salicylates are present in varying degrees in all plants. Generally the tastier the fruit,veg or herb, the more salicylates it has. It’s a bit tough but at least no more debilitating cramps. 
The two common decaf methods for tea as detailed above uses Methylene Chloride (also known as Paint Stripper) or Ethyl Acetate (also known as Nail Polish remover). The one that could be classified as completely natural  is the CO2 method but the equipment is expensive to fabricate and operates at a pressure of 30 bars (a car tyre is about 3 bars). Another method that is used for caffeine removal is the Swiss Water method but on tea it removes the taste  as well but apparently it works on coffee alright. Decaffeination also removes the salicylates.
The author of Salicylates Handbook, Sharla Race says that the method of infusing tea for 20 to 30 seconds will reduce the amount of Salicylates in the resultant tea.
The very high salicylate sources (besides Aspirin,Ibuprofen and the like) are Spinach and Rhubarb so Popeye would have been a kidney stone candidate! Tomato and other sauces are high in salicylates so if one has a high sensitivity there are many items that they should avoid  but I’m sure Sam is aware of them already.
Well, at least Ms. Race corroborates that the quick infusion method reduces the salicylates content somewhat.

More interesting facts about caffeine.


Larry Brown

These pearls of wisdom were gathered from Larry Brown, ex Assam tea planter from the “good old days” now retired. He divides his time between the Gold Coast, Australia and Shillong, India. Larry is a walking encyclopedia: the “Google” of tea;  full of serious knowledge, funny stories and interesting trivia. I constantly bother him with pesky questions.