Your decaf tea – Is is decaffeinated or naturally caffeine-free?
It is very important to understand the difference between a naturally caffeine-free beverage vs. a decaffeinated beverage.
When it comes to tea, there is no such thing as being naturally caffeine-free. The only way to produce a caffeine free tea is to remove it using common decaffeination processes such as the Direct method or Carbon Dioxide method, both described in the following: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decaffeination. The carbon dioxide method is basically chemical free, while the Direct method uses a synthetic version of methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to remove the caffeine.
The concept of naturally caffeine-free only applies to plants not related to the tea plant (camilla sinensis). Examples of naturally caffeine-free plants are Rooibos, Hibiscus or Chamomile, which are used to create tea-like beverages, also known as herbal infusions.
Keep all this in mind next time you think about purchasing or drinking a “decaf” tea. Generally speaking, you really don’t know which method a manufacturer uses to remove the caffeine. If caffeine-free is important to you, and you are really into all natural products, your best bet is to avoid decaffeinated tea and stick with naturally caffeine-free herbals, such as Rooibos.