Pu-erh Tea vs Coffee: Which Has More Caffeine?

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Welcome to the caffeinated clash between Pu-erh Tea and Coffee. As staples in many daily rituals, both are praised for their energizing effects, but which packs more caffeine? In this post, we’ll compare their caffeine levels, flavors, and health benefits to determine your ideal pick-me-up. Join us as we dive into the world of Pu-erh tea vs coffee to discover which reigns supreme in the caffeine contest.

Quick Insights:

  • Yes, it’s pronounced “poo-air.”
  • Coffee usually has a higher caffeine content than Pu-erh Tea.
  • Variability in pu-erh tea caffeine content stems from factors like bean/leaf variety, origin, processing, and brewing techniques.
  • Pu-erh Tea’s unique fermentation process plays a role in its caffeine content.
  • Brewing methods of both coffee & tea significantly influence caffeine extraction.

What is Pu-erh tea?

Pu-erh tea (pronounced “poo-air”), sometimes referred to as “black tea” in certain parts of Asia, is a fermented tea that hails from the mountainous Yunnan province in China1. Unlike green tea and black tea, Pu-erh undergoes a special microbial fermentation process, (like how wine matures). During this transformation, molds, bacteria, and yeasts work their đŸĒ„ magic on the leaves, crafting an incredibly distinct profile of earthy and complex flavors.

A White Bowl With Loose Leaf Pu Ehr Tea Leaves
Pu-ehr tea

Pu-erh tea is special because, like a good wine, it gets better with age. You can keep it for many years, even hundreds, and as it gets older, its flavors change and become more complex. People love aged Pu-erh tea not only because it tastes great but also because it has a long history.

What’s more, making Pu-erh tea is a unique process that adds to its charm. You can brew it in different ways to bring out various flavors and scents. This part of drinking Pu-erh tea lets you enjoy and respect its deep traditions and the story behind this amazing drink.

Pu-erh Tea vs Coffee – Which Has More Caffeine?

Coffee contains more caffeine than Pu-erh Tea. An 8oz cup of coffee averages around 95mg of caffeine, while the same serving size of Pu-erh Tea has between 15-60mg. The amount of caffeine in Pu-erh tea is influenced by the tea’s variety, origin, processing method, and brewing techniques. Other teas, like green and black teas, hover in the 30-60mg of caffeine per 8-ounce serving.

A Young Woman Breathing In The Aroma Of Her Hot Tea
Pu-erh tea gets better with age

Factors Affecting Caffeine in Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea is influenced by factors like variety, origin, processing method, and brewing techniques, which impact the amount of caffeine it contains.

  1. Tea Type: Raw Pu-erh usually contains less caffeine than ripe Pu-erh due to differences in the fermentation process.
  2. Tea’s Age: Younger teas generally have a higher caffeine content, which may reduce as the tea ages.
  3. Leaf Quality: Premium-quality leaves usually contain more caffeine than lower-grade leaves.

Factors Affecting Caffeine in Coffee

The caffeine content in coffee can also vary due to several factors:

  1. Bean Type: Arabica beans generally have less caffeine compared to Robusta beans.
  2. Roasting: Lighter roasts usually retain more caffeine than darker roasts, even though the latter may taste stronger.
  3. Grind Size: Finer grinds expose more coffee surface to water, potentially extracting more caffeine.
  4. Brewing Method: Methods like espresso or French press can extract caffeine differently. Espresso, for instance, is highly concentrated.
  5. Serving Size: Obviously, a larger cup means more caffeine.

Types of Pu-erh Tea and Their Caffeine Content

There are two main types of Pu-erh, each with its own distinct character and caffeine content.

1. Sheng Pu-erh Tea

Sheng Pu-erh Tea, often referred to as “Raw” Pu-erh, undergoes minimal processing and is naturally fermented over time, distinguishing its rich and earthy flavor profile that’s accentuated with hints of fruit and wood. Each 8oz cup of Sheng Pu-erh typically contains between 15-45mg of caffeine, offering a moderate boost compared to other beverages. A prime example of this type is the Ancient Single-Tree Sheng Pu-erh Cake, which is highly sought after by tea enthusiasts for its depth and complexity.

Ancient Single-Tree Sheng Pu-Erh Cake
A Single-Tree Sheng Pu-erh Cake is about $89

2. Shou Puerh Tea

Shou Pu-erh Tea, or “Ripe” Pu-erh, is distinguished by an accelerated fermentation process that yields a smoother and more mellow flavor, characterized by deep notes of leather and earth. This method contrasts with the natural aging of “Raw” Pu-erh, providing a distinct taste experience. The caffeine content in Shou Pu-erh ranges from 30-60mg per 8oz cup, offering a slightly stronger boost compared to its “Raw” counterpart. A notable example of this variety is the 2019 Nevermore Ripe Pu-erh Tea, celebrated for its rich profile and refined taste.

2021 Nevermore Cake Back 84B3Dc16 E6D0 48Cf 8966
2019 “Nevermore” Ripe Pu-erh tea from Crimson Lotus Tea is $55

Benefits of Pu-erh Tea

While caffeine content is a key concern for many, Pu-erh tea boasts unique benefits beyond just caffeine:

  • L-theanine: This amino acid promotes relaxation and focus, providing a smoother energy boost compared to coffee.
  • Antioxidants and polyphenols: Contribute to overall health and well-being.
  • Improved digestion: Traditionally used to aid digestion and reduce bloating.
  • Weight management: Some studies suggest that Pu-erh may help boost metabolism and promote weight loss2.
  • Reduced cholesterol levels: Pu-erh may help lower cholesterol levels and improve cardiovascular health.
Pu-Ehr Tea Vs Coffee
Pu-ehr tea is a fermented black tea

Additional Tips:

  • Experiment with different brewing methods to find the one that suits your taste and caffeine needs.
  • Be mindful of your caffeine tolerance and adjust your intake accordingly.
  • Listen to your body and choose the beverage that makes you feel your best.
  • If you’re drinking tea to help lose weight, but you’re not seeing results, try TeaBurn. Add it to your morning tea to kickstart your metabolism and enhance weight management.
An Individual Serving Of Teaburn
Pour a packet of TeaBurn into your morning cuppa

Where does Pu-Erh tea come from?

Pu-erh’s history is deeply intertwined with the ancient tea trade routes of Yunnan. While the town of Pu-erh lent its name to this tea, the leaves themselves are harvested from various regions within the province3, each with its specific characteristics. Some of the most renowned Pu-erh tea regions include Xishuangbanna, Yiwu, and Lincang, each contributing distinct flavors and aromas to the final brew.

Where to find Pu-erh Tea:

Pu-erh tea can be found in specialty tea shops and online retailers. Some popular online stores include:

  1. Pique.com
  2. TheArtOfTea.com
  3. Amazon.com
  4. VitaSprings.com


What does Pu-erh tea taste like compared to coffee?

Due to its aging, pu-erh tea has an earthy taste and aroma and is less acidic for sensitive stomachs. The taste of coffee varies based on the bean type and brewing method, with mild to strong flavors.

How should Pu-erh tea and coffee be brewed for the best flavor?

After the water has boiled and cooled slightly, steep pu-erh tea for two to four minutes. There are several ways to brew coffee, ranging from espresso to filter coffee, and each has an impact on the final flavor and caffeine level.


  1. https://www.teavivre.com/info/puerh-cake-tea-process.html ↩ī¸Ž
  2. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1169/pu-erh-tea ↩ī¸Ž
  3. https://www.britannica.com/place/Yunnan ↩ī¸Ž
Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

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