Is Tea Acidic?


  • 14 August 2020

  

  • Will drinking tea cause tooth decay?

  • Will drinking tea cause acid reflux?

  • Will drinking tea cause stomach acidity?

As a tea professional, these are amongst the most regularly asked questions to me. Whether at office or at a tea workshop or a casual dinner with friends - there is always someone who comes up with this question: is tea acidic?

 

 

 

 

While I am not a medical researcher or a gastroenterologist, as a tea professional, I can only provide a general guide based on research and studies that I have come across about acidity in tea. Needless to say, those with serious or chronic gastro ailments definitely need to check with qualified physicians and specialists.

 

Before we go on to the key question - is tea acidic, let us quickly understand the effects of highly acidic foods and drinks on health :

Stomach Acidity or Acid Reflux

 

The chronic name of stomach acidity is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease or GERD, also known as Acid Reflux. Acid Reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe (oesophagus) and causes “heartburn”, scratchy throat and stomach pain. An extremely common symptom is regurgitation - when bitter or sour tasting acid backs up to your throat. Other symptoms of Acid Reflux include Bloating, Burping, Hiccups, Nausea and Dry Cough.

 

Tooth Decay

According to American Dental Association (ADA), highly acidic foods are considered very dangerous for teeth. Regular intake of such acidic foods cause tooth decay, including stained teeth.

 

Acid Reflux and Tooth Decay are the two main reasons why tea-lovers are so concerned about acidity in tea.

 

Is Tea Acidic?

Acidity is determined on the pH scale. The neutral point in the pH scale is 7. Pure distilled water is 7 on the pH scale. Lemon is around 2 on the pH scale, indicating it is highly acidic. Any food below 4 on the pH scale is considered to be highly acidic, and is very likely to have a detrimental effect on digestion and cause Acid Reflux as well as tooth decay.

 

 

Fortunately, most teas are very mildly acidic. All Black Teas are between 4.9-5.5 on the pH scale. However, there are some teas where the acidity falls as low as 3 on the pH scale. It would also be important to remember that the exact acidity level in each tea will depend on a number of factors like the type of tea, the region where it was grown and the season when it was harvested. Green Tea, for example, is known to be less acidic than Black Tea, with a pH of 7-10. Herbal Teas like Chamomile Tea, Mint Tea and Fennel Teas are very close to neutral, ranging between 6-7 on the pH scale, while Fruit Teas like Blackberry and Rosehip are very acidic, ranging between 2-3 on the pH scale.
 

pH of Popular Teas


TEA

pH Scale Average

Black Tea

4.9 - 5.5

Green Tea

7 - 10

Herbal Teas (Chamomile, Mint)

6 - 7

Fruit Teas (Blackberry)

2 - 3

 

In comparison, pure fruit juices have pH between 3-4, while fizzy drinks (regular or diet), sports drinks and other energy drinks have pH between 2-3. These will most likely cause tooth decay. Tea falls in the normal and safe range of foods, and is not known to cause any problems with tooth decay or digestive upset due to its acidity. Tea is also not known to cause any problems with acid reflux or "heartburn".

 

How To Make Tea (Yet Less) Acidic

If you still want to make your tea less acidic, here are simple ways to do this:

 

  • For Black Tea - steep your tea for lesser than recommended time

  • For Black Tea - use lesser quantity of tea leaves per serving

  • Go for more neutral teas like Green Tea or Herbal Tea

  • Use jaggery instead of sugar to sweeten your tea as sugar is more acidic

  • Avoid lemon as it is highly acidic and can cause Acid Reflux

  • Store teas properly in an air-tight glass jar and keep the jar away from light - exposure to light, moisture and air can cause to tea to become acidic as well as lose its flavour and taste

  • Generally, home-brewed teas are less acidic

  

Tea is a healthy drink containing no additives, preservatives or colouring. It is packed with antioxidants, catechins, polyphenols and minerals like magnesium and fluoride. All these make tea an ideal health and wellness beverage. Tea is also the only known plant source of amino acids that help in generation of alpha brain waves, related to calm and alert state of mind. Read why tea is so healthy for you here. Most teas also are mildly acidic, making them totally safe from Acid Reflux or dental problems.

 

So, go on and keep drinking your favourite Darjeeling or Assam, Earl Grey or English Breakfast Tea, Matcha or Muscatel…and many more!

 

 

About the Author :

ketan desai | chief educator |  ketan@vahdamteas.com

  

Ketan Desai is the Chief Educator at VAHDAM Teas. After a brief stint with the family tea business, Ketan went on to work with some of the top tea planters, tasters, blenders and marketers across India, Sri Lanka, Russia and the CIS countries, the UK, Bangladesh, Indonesia  and Africa. 

A seasoned tea-taster and blender, and a passionate raconteur, Ketan conducts tea workshops and events, regaling participants with amusing stories while explaining the finer nuances of tea during live tasting sessions.

At VAHDAM Teas, Ketan spearheads tea, content and community initiatives. He leads TEAch Me, VAHDAM’s social initiative focused on education of children at tea estates.

Ketan's favourite tea is Darjeeling First Flush, which he prefers to have without milk or sugar. He can be contacted at @ketdes on twitter, @teatotaller on instagram or at ketan@vahdamteas.com.