Decaffeinated teas and the decaffeination process.
Decaffeinated teas offer an excellent alternative for those who enjoy a relaxing cup of tea but cannot tolerate the "kick" resulting from caffeine intake. For a tea to be legally labeled "decaffeinated" in the United States, 98% of the caffeine must be removed. The main decaffeination processes use one of three organic solvents: carbon dioxide, methylene chloride, or ethyl acetate.
Super Critical Carbon Dioxide When pressurized, carbon dioxide (CO2) liquefies and acts as a solvent --
and a highly caffeine selective one at that! In a sealed chamber, moistened tea leaves are exposed to the pressurized CO2. After a number of hours, the liquid is poured off, and the tea leaves are dried. Because caffeine is the only compound affected during this process, CO2 decaffeinated teas have much more flavor than those treated with either methylene chloride or ethyl acetate. With the exception of one, all of Upton Tea Imports' decaffeinated selections are processed using the CO2 method.
Ethyl Acetate Ethyl acetate is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in tea leaves, so any traces of this organic solvent are not as risky as those from methylene chloride (below). Unfortunately, ethyl acetate is not as highly caffeine-selective, so other compounds in the tea leaf are also removed during the decaffeination process. This may result in a weaker tea, in non-flavored varieties.
Methylene Chloride A high proportion of decaffeinated teas on the market today are treated with the chemical named methylene chloride. While studies have shown that the traces of the chemical that inevitably remain on treated tea leaves are not enough to pose any health danger, many are justifiably concerned that their favorite decaffeinated tea may contain the same chemical that is used in paint strippers, aerosol sprays, and dry cleaning solutions. The side effects of high exposure to methylene chloride include headaches, faintness, dizziness, and skin irritation. None of Upton Tea Imports' decaffeinated teas are processed with Methylene Chloride.
"Upton Tea Imports was founded in 1989 with the objective of providing the North American tea drinker with
the finest teas available. We purchase teas from reputable brokers and estates worldwide, dealing only with
sources who are capable of providing top quality teas. We sell directly to the consumer, thus ensuring the
freshest product and fairest pricing."