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Caffeine levels of green teas were generally much lower (about 14mg to 37 mg per eight-ounce cup) compared to black teas (50 mg per cup) or coffee (140 mg per cup).

Costs of the teas varied widely, but researchers say that unlike wine, even rare teas are an affordable luxury. A pound of the most treasured tea may cost up to $300 a pound, but that amount yields about 200 cups, which is less than $1.50 a cup. The top rated teas in this report ranged from 12 cents to 35 cents per cup.

Researchers say following these six steps can help bring out the best of any green tea:

  • Buy a little tea at a time - Tea turns stale within six months to a year.
  • Keep air out - Non-clear glass, metal or ceramic containers are best for storage. Tea can absorb other flavors and odors, so keep teas away from other spices and out of plastic containers.
  • Use good water - Use cold, good-tasting tap water or bottled water. Hard water can add a mineral taste to delicate green teas, and water left sitting in a kettle overnight will dampen the tea's flavor.
  • Don't boil - Green tea should be brewed at a lower temperature than black teas because it's more delicate. Pour the water just before it boils.
  • Follow directions - Follow the instructions from the store or package regarding how long to steep and how much tea to use. In general use about one teaspoon of loose leaves or one bag per eight ounces of water and brew for about two to three minutes.
  • Let tea breathe - The leaves need enough room to unfurl and swirl in the basket, tea infuser, or filter used. Tea balls usually don't offer enough space and an open-topped infuser is usually a better choice because it lets leaves float freely.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports, March 2003.

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