Tea time: Biology student studies tea decaffeination

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Micah Buckel

WILMORE, KY—In a theme similar to myth busters, senior biology major Micah Buckel from Wilmore decided to test the widely touted at-home tea decaffeination procedure.

Tea lovers have been claiming for many years that they can rid 80 percent of the caffeine from their favorite brews using a 30-second hot water infusion. At the suggestion of his professor, Dr. Bruce Branan, Buckel decided to investigate those beliefs for his senior research project. All graduates of Asbury Colleges natural sciences department must complete a research project for graduation.

Bruce Richardson, a well-known tea expert, originally suggested the experiment to Dr. Branan. Richardson’s company, Elmwood Inn Fine Teas, provided eight loose leaf for the project.

Under the direction of Dr. Branan, Buckel conducted more than 200 hours of research into the tea theory. He brewed each of the teas for three minutes, analyzed the liquid and then repeated the infusions two more times.

Buckel found that the first three-minute infusion removed 46-70 percent of the caffeine and it took a second three-minute infusion to remove 80 percent of the caffeine.

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Micah Buckel conducting his research on tea.

During his research, Buckel was also able to debunk the theory that white tea always has less caffeine than green or black teas. In fact, of the teas he studied, the white, green and black teas had similiar amounts of caffeine.

Buckel presents his research on Nov. 1 at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences conference at the University of Kentucky. His study will also be published in the January 2009 issue of Fresh Cup magazine. For more on his project, visit www.elmwoodinn.com/about/caffeine.html.

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