An Unexpected Journey (Decaffeinated Teas)

The journey to the realization that we could – and should – offer more tasty blends that did not contain caffeine was a long one.

And for that, I feel I should apologize.

It started closing on a year ago, when a lovely lady who had been gifted our Tea of the Month club as a present filled out a survey.

She’d had previous experience with our teas, through gifts in prior years, and answered our “If you’ve tried our teas, what was your favourite?” question with – ‘Smoke in the Water.’

However, she also stated that she’d given up caffeine and would no longer be able to drink it.

This settled into my brain as a wrongness in my personal slice of reality.

If she had enjoyed the flavour as much as it seemed, I felt the need to figure out a way that I could approximate it without the caffeine.

And thus began a long quest for “how do I get a smoky flavour into tea without using tea?” that ended with the creation of ‘Fire in the Sky.’

A small metal tea tin, set on a textured green stone table.  The tin is open, the lid propped up at an angle on one side of it, and there is a slight dusting of barley and spice around the rim of the tin.  The label reads  "Fire in the Sky, Ingredients:  Smoked Cherrywood Barley, Organic Roasted Barley, Organic Elderberries, Organic Hawthorn berries, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Ginger, Organic Cardamom"

Unfortunately, the thought process did not, at this point, work its way past “I want to make it so this person can still have smoky elderberry chai” to the somewhat obvious “I need to do this with more of our teas.”

I did make a mental note to create more herbal tasty teas, and a few more came into existence over the months immediately following.

It wasn’t until October of last year, when someone reached out to me in regards to decaffeinated tasty teas that I realized I’d been oblivious to the plight of a particular group of tea lovers.1

The ones who, for one reason or another, can no longer partake of the ever-popular (practically venerated) caffeine molecule.

Image with a mouse and a stack of books in the center.  The text is split above and below and reads: "Go with friends to get tattoos.  You get a caffeine molecule."

I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me that people could need to cease with the caffeine and yet still miss the taste of tea.  Including more-than-just-tea teas, like most of what we offer.

The request sparked a research dive, and some searches through the options available from the suppliers we already use.  We tried the basic decaffeinated teas that we could find – sadly, not many – and decided which options suited our ingredient protocols.

We were able to find a basic green, a basic black, and an earl grey.  Which was depressing and somewhat heartening, at the same time.  While I will continue to be quite frustrated at not having access to a decaf Lapsang 2 – it was nice to know that I would have had to go the herbal experimentation route for ‘Fire in the Sky,’ even if we had already had the decaffeinated tea eureka.

The other heartening thing is that there are a large number of our teas that use a basic black, a basic green, or earl grey as a foundation.  This means that, with a test of each to make sure the recipes work the same for the two variants of the foundational tea, we can make ANY of those in a decaf version.

Originally I was going to hold off on offering them unless they were asked for – but the “we could make this in decaffeinated if you would like” would be buried down at the bottom of the listing, and…

…I realized that waiting until requested wasn’t giving easy access to the teas.

Since the purpose of the research and experimentation was motivated to give easy access, I’ve decided to go about this in a different way.

What I am going to do is figure out the pricing on every tea that could be made with a decaf option, assuming the ratios stay the same, and make them available both on Etsy and on our personal site.  To keep myself from completely drowning in work, I won’t make the labels until they have been ordered.

Similarly, to keep the tea-wall from immediately overflowing onto the next available and requiring emergency furniture construction, I will not test the recipes until they have been ordered, either.  I will do the testing and any needed revamping as orders come in.

Those last bits are important to mention because it means there may be a slight delay on any decaffeinated teas ordered that I haven’t done these things for.

But I figured a slight wait might be well worth it, just to have all the options easily available.

The list of teas that we will be able to make a decaffeinated option for are:  The Norn Compass*, Pie of the Tiger, Steve’s Three Alarm Zen, SereniTea: Comfort & Joy, SereniTea: Something for the Blues, Chapel’s Chai, Cooper’s Curry, Crowley’s Kiss, Currantly Nuts, Galactic Green, Godric’s Courage, Green Standard, Grey’s Secret Garden, Gysahl Green, Heart of the Blue Box, Hello Sweetie, Inara’s Evening Blend, Jenny’s Jasmine Grey, Meditation Mint, Melody Green, Melody Grey, The Mintalist, Minty Frog*, Nayru’s Knowledge, Orange You Glad It’s Chai, Ravendane Chai, Rowena’s Wit, Spindle’s Bite, Straight Up Chai, Sublime Summertime, Taliesin’s Tonic, Uhura’s Frequency*, When September Ends, Whoa-Oh Blackberry, and The Wizard’s Tower.

*These teas do contain chocolate

Tea at Pemberly, Lady LiberTea, and Earlderberry Grey are already live3

Closein shot of a small white bowl on a textured stone table.  It is taken at an angle, so the bowl fills the frame diagonally.  It is full of a blend of black tea, cranberries, apple, and spices.
This is ‘Wilde’s Wassail’ – one of the teas in the pipeline. Also the first where the decaffeinated version was created first.

Any of our tasty teas not on this list are either already lacking in caffeine or will not be able to done with an ingredient swap (or close enough to a direct swap to count).  However, if there is something you really want to see, the offer to rework any of the flavour sets we have created within your allowed frameworks stands – and will not change.4

I will get this all sorted out as quickly as I can, and hope that the expanded array available to those who cannot caffeine will bring a spot of glee out there somewhere.

Picture of a small blue teapot, the edge around the lid is red, as is the inside, which you can tell from the spout.  Over the teapot are the words "Where there's tea, there's hope.  -Arthur Wing Pinero"
  1. I was especially irritated with myself for this because of Mister Tea and coffee. The entire reason we started blending coffees was because I figured, if he Had to have decaf, it should at least be interesting decaf. In his case, tea caffeine is okay in moderation, so it just… hadn’t… settled into my brain right.
  2. Unless, of course, we are someday able to act on some of our crazy dreams. One of them is having the capacity to decaffeinate teas properly, so that we could have whatever tea flavours we wanted.
  3. This post deals with the teas that were blended prior to our decaf realizations. The newest offerings started out with the choice of caf or decaf. These are – The Shapes of Clouds and Accio Spoons – and tomorrow Elvenguard will be added to that list.
  4. We are looking into toasting rice in-house, so that we would be able to rig a decaffeinated genmaicha. It also just seems like a nifty option to have, especially given our recent seaweed discovery.

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