A lot of people around the world drink billions of gallons of tea, four billion from Americans alone. 18% of those tea-drinkers order theirs decaffeinated. Methods of tea decaffeination involves hot water and carbon dioxide treatments that usually has an effect on the flavor of the tea, as well as diminishing the compounds that give the tea its health benefits.
The era of tea decaffeinated in this way may come to an end.
Scientist Liang Chen and his co-researchers discovered a rare wild tea in the mountains of South China which they determined to not contain any caffeine. Besides from being naturally-decaffeinated, locals say that Hongyacha (HYV) cures colds, stomach pains, and other ailments. The team found that the natural decaffeination of the tea is the result of a gene mutation in caffeine synthase, the gene responsible for caffeine production in plants.