The very best of tea
… just without caffeine.
Infré was co-founded in 1946 by Theodor Grethe, the original patent holder of a solvent-based process to decaffeinate tea. It is the first company to have ever decaffeinated tea. Since the beginning nothing has changed. Well almost nothing. Back in the founding days our company was a small artisan workshop, producing a few dozen kilos of decaffeinated tea every day. In comparison, our fully automated production facilities decaffeinate today more than a ton of tea per hour. But in essence we still strive for the same, i.e. to extract the caffeine from the tea leafs as gently as possible and to leave the maximum of the valuable and healthy components within the decaffeinated tea.
By focusing exclusively on the decaffeination of tea we are able to guarantee a superior quality to our customers. We are annually audited against the British Retail Consortium Global Standard (BRC) and we have achieved the highest possible grade: A+. We are also certified ISO 9001:2008 since 1993.
Infré is located in Switzerland. Although Switzerland is not a tea country, the traditionally high standards of its food industry together with the open and lean working environment makes it an ideal location for us. Furthermore, it gives us opportunity to cooperate with leading technology companies and universities. We are thus able to maintain and to constantly improve our highly automated production process.
Infré is a family owned company with a strong focus on building long term and value creating partnerships with all its stakeholders.
Besides water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world and this for a good reason: tea consumption has various positive health effects for the human body, and it also contributes to our intake of fluids. It is further an important source of antioxidants (including polyphenols) and minerals.
We would like to concentrate on three substances found in tea and the way these are affected by our decaffeination process:
Both black and green tea contain between 2 and 4% of caffeine. Caffeine is certainly the most widely consumed psychoactive substance. It increases wakefulness and it is effective in combating fatigue. But when taken in excess, caffeine can lead to nervousness, agitation and insomnia and in some cases it can even cause anxiety or palpitations. Research has shown that of all the substances contained in tea, only caffeine could have a negative effect on the wellbeing and health of human beings.
Tea contains a high amount of valuable polyphenols, which form a complex with the caffeine. As this complex needs to be dissolved before the uptake, the caffeine in tea is only slowly absorbed in the body. This process can take up to four hours. On the other hand coffee contains much less polyphenols and hence the caffeine molecule is freer and quicker absorbed in the body, for this reason one gets a more immediate “caffeine-high” from drinking coffee.
Importantly, after the decaffeination process the caffeine content in our tea is reduced by well over 90%, down to 0.2% or even 0.1% depending on national regulations.
Besides in tea polyphenols are in others foods, such as vegetables and fruits. They protect the body against damage caused by free radicals, which are reactive atoms that contribute to tissue damage in the body. Tea is an important source of polyphenols. The good news is that our decaffeination process hardly removes polyphenols from the tea, thus our decaffeinated tea contains still a high amount of polyphenols.
Regular tea contains about 3% amino acids of which approximately 50% is L-theanine. This substance has strong relaxing properties, stimulates the production of alpha brain waves and strengthens the immune system. The positive impact of the L-theanine to the human body is even further enhanced in decaffeinated tea. The caffeine acts antagonistically against the stress and anxiety lowering effect of L-theanine. Fortunately, the L-theanine is not removed by our process. Drinking decaffeinated tea therefore reduces stress and anxiety.
We have always decaffeinated our teas with methylene chloride (MC). This solvent is widely used in the food industry, especially for the decaffeination of coffee and tea. It is among other things also used for the extraction of spices and hops.
MC extraction produces the best possible quality of decaffeinated tea, which is much superior to the other available methods. Therefore in the UK 99% of the decaffeinated tea consumed is decaffeinated with MC. We are the main decaffeinated tea supplier to the UK market, on the strength of our overall quality on offer.
We clearly see the decaffeination process as our core competence. In addition we offer all the services needed to provide our clients with the finished product according to their needs and specifications. These services include tea buying, tea blending and quality control as well as the logistics to deliver the decaffeinated tea to our customers all over the world. Some of our clients prefer to buy and blend their own tea and send us their blends for decaffeination. This is fine with us and we process their tea on a tolling basis.
In the early nineties we have developed a process, which allows us to recover the caffeine extracted from the tea. Natural caffeine is used in energy drinks, cola drinks and in the pharmaceutical industry.
Infré’s in-house laboratory thoroughly analyses all aspects of the decaffeinated tea and assures a consistently high quality control of our products. Our decaffeinated teas are delivered to our customers with detailed certificates of analysis.
We are pleased that there is a commitment to sustainability from the large brand owners and therefore most of the teas we source for them are Rainforest Alliance Certified™ or UTZ certified. For our own brand in Switzerland we only source tea from producers that are Rainforest Alliance Certified™. The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organisation that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Infré works with the following certification standards:
Infré is a food company. Flawless quality as well as permanent quality control is therefore an absolute must. This is the reason why we decided to go for the BRC level A+ standard, which means that we accept unannounced audits. At the same time we are audited and certified against the standard of ISO 9001:2008. Our process is also kosher certified.
Our aim is to reduce the overall energy consumption of our production to a minimum. We are taking initiatives to constantly reduce our CO2 footprint. Since early 2014 our company has been certified CO2 neutral. This process was controlled by Swissclimate (swissclimate.ch) and audited by SQS (SQS.ch).
To offset our carbon emissions we have chosen to support two projects in Africa:
Why two projects in Africa? We source most of our tea from Eastern and Southern Africa and have therefore strong ties to this part of the world.
In addition 100% of our electricity comes from renewable sources: hydropower, wind power or solar power.
Over the years we increased our emphasis on waste recycling. Today all our organic waste is used for local biogas production and all packaging materials - plastic, metal, glass and paper - are recycled. The quantity of our waste going to landfill is therefore minimal.