One of the most common questions asked by people thinking of switching over to green tea is whether it's acidic. If you're consuming too many or too much of acidic foods and drinks, it can cause harmful side effects to your body. For instance, too much acidity may result in the formation of uric acid kidney stones, the deterioration of bone and muscles, the reduction of bone density, and potentially increase the risk of cancer, liver, or heart disease.
Here's what you need to know.
Is Green Tea Acidic or Alkaline?
Green tea is considered more alkaline than acidic. The alkalinity or acidity level of different foods is determined by using what's known as a pH scale, numbered from 1 to 14. 7 is considered neutral on this scale, while progressively going below 7 would be considered acidic, and progressively going higher than 7 would be considered alkaline. So a score of 0 would mean the substance is highly acidic, while a score of 14 would mean the substance is highly alkaline.
Green tea is considered to have a pH ranging from 7 to 10. The actual pH number can vary depending on the type of green tea, the brewing water, how long you steep the tea before drinking it, how diluted it is, and whether you've added other substances or flavourings that can alter its base pH level. For reference, here are some of the pH levels of other popular beverages:
- Black tea: 4.9-5.5
- Lemon tea: 3
- Oolong tea: 5.9-8.2
- Chamomile or mint teas: 6-7
- Rosehip or Blackberry teas: 2-3
Most teas are mildly acidic in nature.
What Causes the Acidity in Green Tea?
Green tea contains compounds called tannins which can increase the amount of acidity in your stomach. While tannins may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits based on existing research, they can cause unpleasant side effects. They can prevent the absorption of iron and also cause nausea on an empty stomach. Drinking green tea may aggravate acidity and acid reflux.
Is Green Tea More Acidic Than Black Tea?
Green tea is less acidic than black tea. Black tea has a pH level that ranges from 4.9 to 5.5, while green tea's pH level ranges from 7 to 10.
How to Make Green Tea Less Acidic?
Diluting your green tea with more water can make it less acidic, as water has a neutral pH of 7. Aim to steep your green tea (tea bags or loose-leaf tea, as the case may be) for no longer than 3 minutes and in hot, not scalding water. The longer you seep, the higher the acidity.
Adding milk, sugar, and other flavourings (especially citrusy variants like lemon juice) or herbs could increase the acidity of green tea. Try jaggery instead of sugar if you absolutely must have sweetness due to sugar's acidic nature.
Opt to have your tea brewed at home if you're not already doing so, as home-brewed tea is generally less acidic than the tea brewed in retail stores and coffee shops.
It's also essential to store your tea carefully. Ideally, keep your tea in glass jars and protect it from exposure to air, moisture, and sunlight. Aside from affecting the quality, freshness, and shelf-life of your tea, the elements can also cause an increase in acidity.
It's also generally good practice to limit the amount of other acid-forming foods in your diet. No food on its own, unless you're consuming it excessively, will contribute to abnormal levels of acidity in the body. Dr Joanne McMillan advocates consuming more vegetables, especially the green leafy variety, legumes, fruits, and nuts, to balance the acidity in the body as these foods are neutral in pH. Also, reduce salt as it is also acidic, and drink more water so your kidneys can work at their best.
You also want to avoid or limit the following foods in your diet:
- Sweeteners like sugar, processed honey, maple syrup, and artificial variants like aspartame
- Commercially processed condiments like soy sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup, and vinegar
- Processed and hard cheeses
- Rice, wheat, and corn
- Corn oil
Who Should Not Drink Green Tea?
Green tea is seen to be safe for most healthy individuals when consumed moderately, i.e., no more than 8 cups daily. Higher amounts increase the amount of caffeine consumed by the body and can potentially cause side effects.
Pregnant women should limit their intake to no more than 6 cups daily, the equivalent of 300 mg of caffeine. Higher amounts have been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects. Breastfeeding women should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 2 to 3 cups daily because the caffeine can pass through the milk and cause side effects for the infant.
People with specific health conditions should be especially mindful about consuming green tea. Conditions like anemia, anxiety disorders, and diarrhea (related or unrelated to Irritable Bowel Syndrome) may worsen with green tea consumption. Avoid green tea if you have a bleeding disorder, as it may increase the risk of bleeding. If you have osteoporosis, limit your consumption of green tea to no more than 6 cups per day.
People with heart conditions, seizures, or high blood pressure can be affected by green tea because of caffeine. Green tea may impact blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It may also increase the pressure inside the eye for people with glaucoma.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the pH level of green tea?
Green tea has an average pH value of 7 to 10. Different types of green tea can have different pH levels. Green tea's acidity can also depend on how long you steep the tea leaves before drinking it, the brewing water used, how long the tea is brewed, whether you're adding water or milk and sugar and whether you're brewing it at home.
The longer you steep the tea, the higher the acidity. Adding more water can dilute the acidity, while adding more milk and sugar may increase the acidity. If you make tea at home generally, you can expect it to be less acidic than the ones you consume from restaurants, retail shops, or in the form of pre-packaged and processed beverages.
Is green tea acidic for teeth?
Acidity is determined by pH levels ranging from 1 to 14. PH levels ranging from 2 to 4 are considered harmful to the teeth. Green tea is more alkaline, falling within the 7 to 10 range. If you have sensitive teeth and are concerned about damage, brush your teeth immediately afterwards. Avoid guzzling the tea inside the mouth for any length of time.
Is green tea more acidic than coffee?
Green tea is generally less acidic than coffee, and can even be alkaline with a pH value as high as 10. However, the exact acidity level can vary depending on how the tea is brewed and what it's made with. It's important to note that some bottled green teas can have excess sugar and additives which can increase their acidity. Green tea also contains caffeine, which can aggravate acidity and cause side effects in excess. Aim to consume green tea in moderate amounts if you're an otherwise healthy individual.
Is green tea bad for acid reflux? Is it good for acidity?
Green tea has caffeine which can potentially aggravate acid reflux or acidity by increasing the amount of gastric acid being produced in the body. Herbal teas like chamomile, licorice, slippery elm, ginger, and marshmallow root may help alleviate some of the symptoms of acid reflux, like nausea and gas.
Green tea has powerful compounds like polyphenols and antioxidants that provide amazing health benefits. Most teas are mildly acidic, but green tea is also more alkaline than acidic. Refer to the tips in this guide for helpful information on how to make tea in a way that reduces its acidity, who should not drink green tea, and how the acidity levels of green tea stack up against other common beverages. Unless you're drinking green tea excessively, most people can enjoy their cup of green tea with little to no side effects.