“Don’t you know decaf tea causes cancer?”
He had my attention. I dropped the box of decaffeinated tea bags. I needed to know more.
“What do you mean?” I asked my colleague at the next desk.
“I thought decaffeinated tea and coffee was supposed to be good for you”
“But it depends on the decaffeinating process”.
Now I really was confused. It was time to consult Google.
What I found out was astonishing.
There are three main ways to decaffeinate tea and coffee.
- Methylene chloride or ethyl acetate (also known as organic chemical solvents)
- Carbon dioxide filtering
- The Swiss Water method
I discovered that drinking ordinary tea and coffee in moderation shouldn’t cause any problems.
But for heavy tea and coffee drinkers who like a change – and those who prefer decaf drinks for medical reasons such as Raynauds – there’s a choice of 3 decaffeinating processes.
But many tea brands seem reluctant to tell us their process, especially if they use the chemical solvents.
What’s The Problem With Decaf Tea?
It appears that the chemicals methylene chloride and ethyl acetate have been linked with cancer.
The Healthwyze website reports: “Consuming benzine, methylene chloride, and ethyl acetate regularly will vastly increase a person’s chances of contracting a serious disease, such as cancer; for the rest of his life.”
Considered to be much safer is the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) method of filtering the caffeine.
How does that work?
Put simply: pressurised Carbon Dioxide is used as a solvent to remove the caffeine.
A third way, the Swiss Water filtering method, is a more complex process – and therefore more expensive. It’s often found in health shops and is well labelled.
My Decaf Green Tea Problem
I love green tea. So one Christmas, my wife bought me some speciality decaffeinated green tea bags from our local health store.
But because there was no indication on the box about the decaffeination filtering method, I tried to find out.
The company responded to my enquiry, saying that they use the “MC decaffeination process”.
MC obviously stands for methylene chloride. So in other words, they use the chemical method.
That surprised me. I expected the tea bags to be CO2 filtered.
But having said that, there are arguments as to whether the chemical methods are harmful or not. Berkeley Wellness presents a research-backed case that all the methods are as safe as each other.
But the common belief is that the CO2 and Swiss Water methods are the safest.
And personally, I like to play safe.
How Can You Find Out How Your Favourite Dacaf Tea is Processed?
A good question! How can you find out which method a tea manufacturer uses?
You could do a Google search.
You could even ask them – just like I did on Facebook and Twitter.
Normally I’ll drink ordinary green tea – and sometimes black tea.
So I’ll go for whatever is the bargain of the week…
Tetley, PG Tips, Twinnings…
From mid afternoon, I aim to drink decaf so that the caffeine doesn’t keep me awake at night.
My choice then is a limited number of tea producers which boldly say they use the Carbon Dioxide filtering method…
Such as Twinnings and Clipper.
Do you prefer decaffeinated tea and coffee?
Are you concerned about the type of filtering, or do you think it’s being fearful over nothing?
I’d love to hear your feedback. Do leave a comment below with your thoughts and questions.