Looking for some teas with no caffeine at all
April 20, 2022 7:46 AM   Subscribe

I love tea, but cannot stand to drink any caffeine. This is a problem, because a lot of "decaffeinated" teas still have noticeable amounts of caffeine. Specifically, I'm looking for Chai, Earl Grey, and Oolong teas that have no caffeine at all. Does such a thing exist? If so, can you please recommend some brands to me?

Specifically looking for Chai, Earl Grey, and Oolong. I already know and love many herbal teas that are free of caffeine.
posted by panama joe to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I think that a rooibos chai may be the closest you will get to this. Earl Grey and Oolong are both made with the leaf of camilla sinensis, processed with bergamot (earl grey) or less processed than black tea (oolong). Even when decaffeinated they retain a little oomph, in my experience.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:52 AM on April 20, 2022 [4 favorites]

All tea that has been decaffeinated has some small amount of caffeine in it, so if you want absolutely no caffeine you need to stick with herbal teas.
posted by ssg at 7:53 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I guess "zero caffeine" may be a difficult requirement to meet. I guess I should really say "no noticeable amount of caffeine." I've found the typical "decaf" Earl Grey very much has noticeable caffeine.
posted by panama joe at 7:54 AM on April 20, 2022

Agreed with Lawn Beaver. I think rooibos is going to be your best bet for absolutely no caffeine.

(I love rooibos and find it a nearly perfect tea substitute, but ymmv)
posted by BungaDunga at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

I'm unclear if you did or did not want herbal recommendations. In case herbal is ok:

Bengal Spice is sort of Chai-ish.

Rishi's Turmeric Ginger Chai
concentrate when added with milk and heated is a very good chai replacement.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:56 AM on April 20, 2022 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Herbal is okay! I'm really going for flavor here. So if it tastes like Earl Grey, Chai, or Oolong — and has no noticeable caffeine — it's good by me 😁
posted by panama joe at 7:58 AM on April 20, 2022

I've no ideas for Oolong. But, you can buy bergamot oil alone. (There's a lot of woo, but also straightforward food-grade stuff sold as flavoring.) Bergamot and rooibos isn't something I've ever tried, but seem plausible as an earl grey alternative. I'd be tempted to add a bit of burdock to make it a little more bitter.
posted by eotvos at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't know how teas are decaffinated, with with coffee beans there's multiple decaffination methods, and I have my preference as far as taste/flavor. Not sure if the caffeine content varies any significantly between different methods but it might be something to look into.
posted by ToddBurson at 8:09 AM on April 20, 2022

You may be able to find an Earl Grey-like rooibos, given that it's a fairly stock black tea plus bergamot, afaik. I drink what is best described as builder's tea and find that rooibos is also acceptable. (I prefer it to Earl Grey by a good margin.) It does have a certain flavor that I'm inclined to describe as fruity that becomes more pronounced the longer it brews, so you may like plain rooibos.
posted by hoyland at 8:12 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Here's a study that tested three different decaf teas and found Bigelow Constant Comment had the lowest caffeine levels. Perhaps you could give it a try and see if the caffeine content is low enough for you and then perhaps try other decaf teas from the company?
posted by ssg at 8:27 AM on April 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

You might also try buckwheat tea - it has quite a robust flavor - also barley tea. I'm not sure I'd call either a direct replacement for any of the teas you mention in that they have their own distinct flavors, but they will give you a similar body/strength as Earl Grey and Oolong. Buckwheat is definitely stronger/darker than barley.
posted by coffeecat at 8:37 AM on April 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

Lots of tea companies have rooibos earl gray teas and rooibos chai teas (links for example, I have only tried a few of these). I would recommend visiting a local tea shop and seeing what they have.
posted by phlox at 9:15 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I drink Adagio's rooibos Earl Grey when I want Earl Grey but not caffeine and find it does the job quite well
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:32 AM on April 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Adagio Teas has many many delicious herbal and rooibos options (blueberry pancake is one of my faves, banana nut is great too, and a lot of interesting herbal chais).
posted by stoneandstar at 9:53 AM on April 20, 2022

Best answer: Simpson and Vail’s (Mobile site links) Earl Grey Rooibos is amazing. They have a pretty good selection of herbal and herbal blends. I also find their green Rooibos hits the spot for green tea. Honeybush is also very tea like rather than herbal feeling. They have some herbal chai but nothing that’s my fave. My fav chai ones went out of business, though you could make your own blend as they sell spices too.

Harney and Sons has a pretty good herbal selection too. They carry a Rooibos chai (haven’t tried it). But I do love their Thai Rooibos which is like Thai Tea. Similar to chai.

I love tea and can’t often handle caffeine, or the acidity of decaf. I have more recs if you want them. But IME, those two have good prices, fast shipping, SV has a great rewards program, and great tea.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Bengal Spice herbal tea, as mentioned by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug.
Spicy and chai-like, excellent plain or with a little plant milk. Ingredients include: Cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.
posted by Glinn at 10:15 AM on April 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

I can attest to Numi brand rooibos chai being pretty good, if not quite as flavor-punchy as I would like it to be.
posted by Night_owl at 10:49 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

This Yogi Tea called Honey Chai Tumeric Vitality has no tea leaves in it and so no caffeine. But it tastes like a chai style tea and it is warming and delicious.
posted by mutt.cyberspace at 1:05 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I drink a lot barley tea, like this: https://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Barley-Kaori-Aromatic-Mugichae/dp/B006OFGT3M?

It's caffeine free, and you can drink it hot or cold. It tastes exactly like you'd expect a beverage made from roasted barely to taste like.
posted by ralan at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I like raspberry leaves as a replacement for white tea or light oolong. Not tea-flavored, but interesting enough.
posted by clew at 7:31 PM on April 20, 2022

Dandelion and chicory do not contain caffeine; TerraVita makes an Earl Grey Dandelion Tea and a Bergamot Lemon Lime Chicory Root Tea. Traditional Medicinal's Organic Dandelion Chai Probiotic Tea (pumpkin spiced chai recipe). Teeccino makes caffeine-free herbal "coffees" - under taste tab, sort "most like tea" or "spicy" or "fruit and floral." Orange Chicory, Dandelion Red Chai, Maya Chai Chicory. [New Orleans has its own "chicory-as-coffee-alternative" tradition, but even there, some "chicory coffees" are caffeinated coffee/chicory blends.]
Tea made from mulberry leaves is similar to green tea but contains no caffeine.
Torani Puremade Bergamot Flavoring Syrup, "ideal for flavoring teas, lemonades, handcrafted sodas, and cocktails".
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:39 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I second raspberry leaf, whose flavor I find not entirely unlike a good English Breakfast. (Note that it is reputed to affect menstrual cycle if that is relevant for you.)
posted by aws17576 at 10:41 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the awesome suggestions! Good to know there are so many options out there. Looks like Rooibos is going to be my first stop, but I'll probably wind up trying the others as well.
posted by panama joe at 7:07 AM on April 25, 2022

Response by poster: Hey all! Just to follow up — I ordered some Harney and Sons Rooibos Chai and some Tick Tock Teas Earl Grey Rooibos, and they do indeed taste like my favorite teas! Not sure I could tell the difference if I didn't already know.

So yaaaay for rooibos and yaaaay for Ask Metafilter! You all are the best.
posted by panama joe at 7:16 AM on May 11, 2022 [2 favorites]

« Older My toddler is a beaver   |   What are fun things to do in Isle of... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.