Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ripped on Tea

From the TGS archives, an article about tea and caffeine.

I frequently pass by a convenience store that boasts something called Hyper Bean, a coffee with twice as much caffeine as the regular stuff. This can't be a good thing. I think we have enough twitchy, ill-mannered people running around as it is.

But if you've gotta have your mega-dose of caffeine and you don't care for the likes of Hyper Bean, energy drinks or Vivarin, you're not completely out of luck. Tea is generally considered to have less caffeine than coffee but there are exceptions - sort of.

Matcha is a form of powdered green tea employed in the Japanese tea ceremony and now coming into wider use. Because it's powdered this means the entire tea leaf is consumed, as opposed to steeping the leaves in water in the standard manner. What this means for caffeine lovers is that matcha may pack a more potent kick than other types of tea. Experts love to point out that determining the caffeine content of tea is an inexact science but by some accounts matcha may have more of the stuff than the average cup of coffee.

Then there's chifir, a drink that's apparently popular in Russian prisons. It's really just highly concentrated tea that's been boiled to within an inch of it's life and made slightly more palatable with a good dose of milk and sugar.

Accounts vary as to exactly how strong chifir is and, given it's nature, there's probably no definitive answer. One source suggests that it's twenty times as strong as a regular cup of tea, while another reckons on twenty grams of black tea brewed in eight ounces of water. For comparison's sake, the recommended measure of tea for a standard six-ounce cup is 2.25 grams.

So it should come as no surprise when, in Vodka For Breakfast, the "quirky, existential thriller" by Russian writer David Gurevich, one of the inmates of a Russian prison camp who's hopped up on chifir, "stripped naked outside the barrack in the forty below weather and did cartwheels until the guards finally calmed him down." Don't try this at home.

Looking for more info on caffeine? Check out my book review of The World of Caffeine here.

Dying to know how much of your favorite caffeinated beverage it would take to kill you? Check out Energy Fiend's Death by Caffeine calculator here. Alas, there's no category for matcha or chifir.

No comments: