Here in the UK, we love a strong cup of tea. Unfortunately, some of us are a little more sensitive to caffeine, which can result in increased anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Luckily, brands like Tetley's, PG Tips, Twining's, and Yorkshire Tea have created hearty decaf options to enjoy in both tea bag and loose-leaf form. But with brands cottoning on to this growing market, there are now heaps of decaf tea options to choose from - where do you begin?
This article will help you compare the best options out there, including organic and fairly traded decaffeinated teas, fragrant decaf Earl Greys, the best rooibos and decaf green tea. We've also ranked the ten best-tasting options you can buy from Waitrose, ASDA, Tesco, Amazon and eBay. After reading this guide, you'll be enjoying the delicious benefits of a heart-warming cuppa without the dreaded caffeine jitters!
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Table of Contents
So you want to know which decaf tea is the best on the market? Well, that all depends on your vision of the perfect cup of Rosy Lee. This section of our article will discuss the different option to choose from and the benefits and drawbacks of each one, including form, flavouring and origin.
The first decision every tea-lover has to make is whether to opt for tea bags or tea leaves. The price, intensity and flavours are really quite different, so let's take some time to weigh up the pros and cons of each. Who knows, this paragraph could convert some lifelong tea-bag addicts over to a loose-leaf decaf dedication!
You really can't go wrong making a cuppa from a cheap and cheerful tea bag. They work instantly, make a hearty, familiar brew and can be used anywhere thanks to their portable form. There's no faffing with tea strainers, no mess on the kitchen counter, and many of the best-loved and popular decaf teas come in bags.
While tea bags are brilliant for anyone rushing or on a tight budget, a small drawback is the lack of sophisticated flavour compared to loose leaf. Nowadays, tea companies use the CTC method, which stands for cut, tear, curl, a process that damages the delicate flavour of tea leaves as they are dried out during production. For an affordable daily hot drink, though, tea bags definitely hit the spot!
For a higher calibre of decaf tea, we recommend experimenting with loose leaf options. Many brands ensure the leaves are picked by hand, meaning they aren't damaged by picking machines. Loose leaves also infuse in water much more intensely than the fine-ground teas put into bags.
The result is a superior taste that is fresh, nuanced and aromatic. The possible downsides to loose leaf tea are that you will need a tea strainer and a slightly longer time for preparation. Additionally, in small quantities, loose leaf tea is usually slightly more expensive than tea bags, so we suggest buying in bulk to side-step this pitfall!
When hot water hits dry tea leaves, the solids preserved in the drying process start to dissolve. This is how piping hot water becomes infused with a comforting, caffeine-free flavour. Flat tea bags, which are either square, round or rectangular, don't allow the leaves much movement, which slows down the infusion process.
A pyramid-shaped decaf tea bag provides more room for the leaves to move in the water. Thus, flavour molecules are transferred more effectively into your cup. Decaf tea pyramids are definitely the closest to a loose-leaf tea-drinking experience. Nowadays, there's not much difference in price between the various shapes which is great news for taste fanatics on a limited budget!
Due to variations in climate, tea-growing styles and harvesting techniques, tea leaves from different parts of the world will have a slightly different flavour. This section will look at the variations in taste between the most popular tea-growing countries worldwide. We'll begin with China, which alongside India, is one of the largest tea producers on the planet.
While it's impossible to identify blanket characteristics for all Chinese tea leaves used by British and American tea producers, one useful thing to note is that experts say that tea from China is some of the best to drink black.
As they taste delicious without the addition of any milk or cream, they make an excellent option for those who follow a vegan or dairy-free diet. Tea from China is also naturally sweet, so you don't need to add any additional sugars or sweeteners - just take it straight-up!
India's two most popular teas are grown in Assam and Darjeeling. Assam produces tea that is brewed to a bold, malty flavour. On the other hand, Darjeeling tea has a much lighter and more herbal taste, which is often likened to the flavours of the Muscatel grape.
On our top ten list, you'll also notice a tea from Kerala. Kerela is another excellent tea region due to its especially tropical climate. Here, the tea leaves take on a more delicate and floral flavour.
Sri Lankan tea, often referred to as Ceylon tea, is said to be the most neutral-tasting of all tea types. Because of its balanced flavour, Sri Lankan tea is probably the most versatile, making it an excellent staple to have on hand.
Working just as well with a slice of lemon to a typical brew with lots of milk and sugar, Ceylon tea provides multiple options to satisfy every tea need. It also goes excellently with a blend of spices to create traditional chai tea! In its purest form, the flavour does, however, hold some subtle citrus notes, which makes it the ideal candidate for a refreshing iced tea on a hot summer's day!
Kenyan tea has a dark amber colour and is often described by connoisseurs as brisk, full-bodied and a little earthy. It pairs extremely well with milk, which enhances rather than weakens its flavour.
The other African tea on our shortlist is Rooibos, which comes from South Africa. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free and tastes beautifully sweet, serving as a great way to satisfy sugar cravings.
Many companies are now setting their sustainability goals in-house, which means you will see fabulous infographics on their website promising grand goals, but few of which are regulated by outside bodies.
Greenwashing is ever more prevalent. This term refers to using persuasive eco-friendly, social justice-themed language that doesn't say much at all. We recommend checking your tea's rating in an independent publication like Ethical Consumer Magazine, which ranks how ethical producers are when it comes to people, animals, the environment, local politics, and the product's sustainability.
Organic decaf tea does tend to cost a little more but is produced without chemical growth enhancement, pesticides or genetic modification. They're kinder to your body and, overall, contribute to the reduction of large-scale farming, which can be detrimental to the environment.
By choosing caffeine-free tea made from organically-grown tea leaves, you will be helping reduce environmental pollution and the production of greenhouse gases. Organic plants are also believed to be higher in antioxidant properties, so drinking an organic decaf tea may also have health benefits.
Click to purchase
Brew Tea Co
Decaffeinated Ceylon Loose Leaf Tea
Fragrant Loose Leaf Tea With Fruity Notes
Decaf English Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea
Loose Leaf Tea With an Aromatic Taste and a Pretty Tin
Waitrose and Partners
Decaffeinated Earl Grey Tea Bags
The Best Decaf Earl Grey on the Market
Fairtrade Decaf Tea
Malty Organic Tea Bags Made in Dorset
Taylors of Harrogate
Decaf Yorkshire Tea
Full-Flavoured Tea From the UK Heartlands
The Original Rooibos Tea
Smoky Sweet Rooibos Tea Naturally Free From Caffeine
Decaf Green Tea
Our Favourite Caffeine-Free Green Tea
Classic Round Tea With Bags of Flavour
The Tasty Decaf
A Hearty Cuppa With None of the Caffeine
Decaffeinated English Breakfast Tea
Warming, Well-Rounded Decaf Breakfast Tea
Winning-out on flavour is this delightful, sense-tickling Ceylon tea from UK based brand Brew Tea Co. The loose leaves are grown in Sri Lanka and blend blissfully with hot water for a fruity, dark and earthy drinking experience sensational with or without milk. This would make a classy addition to any tea party!
We do think the price tag is justified here, as a small number of tea leaves produce a truly robust brew, and nothing of the taste has been lost through the decaffeination process. Brew Tea Co is also one of Ethical Consumers higher-ranked producers with 13/20 points.
We know we should never judge a tea by its tin, but we're doing it a little bit anyway! Tea People is an award-winning independent social enterprise owned by husband and wife team Neeraj and Vishaka. With a mission to reduce poverty in the tea-growing regions of the world, their decaf tea not only has strong ethical credentials but tastes marvellous too.
This option is the English Breakfast blend, which is super bright and flavourful with a more rounded taste than standard black tea. The loose leaves mean the water is infused with a gorgeous depth of taste, unrivalled by tea bags. If these perks weren't enough, the tin also makes a cute container for future tea paraphernalia.
Trust us when we say that we have shopped around for a good decaf Earl Grey! It's hard to beat the ever-so-posh flavour notes of black tea, flecked with citrusy orange zest, lemon and a hint of grapefruit. Needless to say, Waitrose has come up with the goods for a decaffeinated version that's affordable and ethically sound. Enjoy an afternoon or evening cup without raising your heart rate!
Waitrose is Fairtrade certified, meaning an independent body regularly assesses their trading credentials. The popular supermarket also ranks as one of the three most ethical supermarkets in the UK. This tea is heady, fragrant and moreish, blessed with bergamot for a bitter zing.
We can't lie guys, we love a massive old mug of Clipper tea! Their tea leaves are sourced from the Assam region of India, where the climate and harvesting process is optimal for malty, intense tea. This brew is truly delicious with or without added milk.
The biodegradable teabags also score some extra points for this affordable organic tea, available in several different sized boxes. Though the ethical credentials of Clipper Tea still need a good deal of improvement, the company is approved by both the Fairtrade regulator and the Soil Association. Kettle's on!
If you're a Yorkshire Tea drinker, there's probably little that can drag you away, and rightly so! This is another decaf option that tea-aholics swear gets pleasingly close to the flavour of the original. This kitchen-shelf favourite of 160 bags from Taylors of Harrogate is also excellent for big families on a small budget.
While the product itself is sustainable, people, animals and local politics are not valued as highly as they should be in the production process. It's the sheer number of glowing reviews from online customers that keep this option high on our list.
Those of us who are a wreck after 3 caffeinated cuppas know the calming joy of a Rooibos like the bottom of our favourite mug. We couldn't make a top-ten ranking of decaf teas without including South Africa's tastiest import. Tick Tock has even won a great taste award for this aromatic, rich and satisfyingly sweet tea.
This box contains 80 bags, all of which are made from biodegradable filter paper and will quickly disappear on your compost heap. The leaves used are organically grown, with not a pesticide in sight, which will please health and environmental-conscious shoppers. Tick Tock teas do, however, have their own in-house sustainability plan, which has room for improvement.
Light, herbal and seriously good for you, this decaf green tea is just as uplifting and zen-boosting as a regular green tea. While the decaffeination process may slightly alter its anti-oxidant qualities, you'll still receive some health benefits and none of the caffeine crash.
The good news is that Clipper tea is Fairtrade certified, meaning its trade process is assessed by an independent regulator. The Soil Association also gives Clipper tea their stamp of approval, so the leaves are guaranteed organic. This is, however, a rather small box of just 40 bags for a whopping £3.
Perhaps the number one perk of Tetley tea is its signature taste, which is smooth and clean with nutty and biscuit-like notes. This 80 bag box is one of the cheapest branded decaf teas on the market and makes a comforting hot drink that allows you to cut down on caffeine.
Tetley scores 7 out of 20 in the Ethical Consumer's sustainability review, which suggests the well-loved tea makers could do better in terms of its workers, wildlife, and the environment where the leaves are grown. An affordable, tasty cuppa, but not the best for people or the planet.
PG Tips are one of the UK's most beloved purveyors of tea. Online reviewers note that their decaf option tastes very similar to their standard caffeinated brew. This large box is great value for a medium-sized household, and the pyramid bags provide a flavour infusion to rival loose leaf tea.
Sadly, PG Tips is another brand guilty of a little greenwashing. Though they make some optimistic claims in their sustainability statement and have been Rainforest Alliance certified, PG Tips scores 1 out of 20 in Ethical Consumer's sustainability survey. An affordable and tasty cup of tea but worth a bit of research if you're keen to shop ethically.
On taste alone, this product scores highly. It's well-loved by tea-drinkers who rate its full-bodied, roasted flavour that easily rivals a morning coffee. The decaf version offers all of the taste with none of the needless caffeine highs and lows. A good strong brew that stands up well to a drop or two of your favourite milk.
Though this tea is popular with shoppers focused on yumminess, it falls short in a few other areas. It's quite costly for just 50 bags and uses tea leaves from 3 countries and 2 continents, meaning its environmental credentials aren't the best. Twinings scores just 1.5 points out of 20 in Ethical Consumer's recent report on teas.
Tea labelled as 'decaffeinated' must contain under 2.5% of its original caffeine content. This is far less than the standard 30 to 50 mg of caffeine found in a regular cup of tea. Some decaf teas still contain a very low level of caffeine, but the body metabolises it too quickly to increase alertness or anxiety, so it should go unnoticed.
There are several processing methods used to reduce the caffeine levels of regular tea leaves. These include processing them with water, an organic acid called ethyl acetate, methylene chloride or even carbon dioxide - the most organically sound option. The treatment continues until the caffeine molecules bond with whichever gas or liquid is being used so that it can be separated from the leaves.
Now that you have the low-down on tasty caffeine-free teas, you might be thirsty for an early tea-time. If so, feast your eyes on these yummy and useful suggestions for making and enjoying a glorious cuppa. Our writers have pulled together top ten product collections from popular stores such as Asda, Tesco and John Lewis to give you more time for biscuits!
So that brings us to the end of our article on the tastiest decaf teas in the UK. Thank you for sticking with us right to the end! We hope that among our picks, you've found something special and delicious to fill your favourite cup to the brim! Cheers *clinks teacup against own saucer*
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1：Brew Tea Co｜Decaffeinated Ceylon Loose Leaf Tea
No. 2：Tea People｜Decaf English Breakfast Loose Leaf Tea
No. 3：Waitrose and Partners｜Decaffeinated Earl Grey Tea Bags
No. 4：Clipper｜Fairtrade Decaf Tea
No. 5：Taylors of Harrogate｜Decaf Yorkshire Tea
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