With regards to tea, the question of whether tea is alkaline or acidic comes down to many different factors. Different types of tea have different base pH levels, and the way that tea is prepared can also affect how acidic or alkaline it is.
Most types of tea would be classified as mildly acidic in nature and fall in the 5-6 pH range. However, some types of herbal tea are highly acidic, with pH levels of 3 or lower. The only type of green tea that is naturally alkaline is green tea, with a pH of 7.2 or above.
The acidity or alkalinity of tea affects how the tea tastes and the health benefits derived from it. Teas that are highly acidic may expose the drinker to possible health risks too. Keep reading to learn more about the pH levels in tea and how they can affect your body.
What Is Acidity and Alkalinity in Tea?
To know whether tea is acidic or alkaline, we need to look at what those terms mean. Alkaline is a term used to describe a pH level of 7.1 or above. This scale is based on a neutral pH of 7.0, the pH present in plain water.
What Is pH?
So what does pH have to do with tea? pH is the scientific scale used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of water or aqueous solutions made from water. This includes beverages that are based on water like tea.
Is Black Tea Alkalizing?
According to Healthline, the pH of black tea is 4.9 to 5.5. This means that black tea has a mildly acidic pH. When consumed, black tea doesn’t have an alkaline effect on the body, but an acidic one. However, the acid in black tea is not strong enough to cause any damage when you drink it.
Should You Drink Tea on an Alkaline Diet?
In diets where you must stick to alkaline foods, acidic foods like black tea are usually avoided. It would also help if you avoided herbal teas that are acidic, such as rosehip and lemon teas.
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What Kinds of Tea Can You Drink on an Alkaline Diet?
While some types of tea are too acidic to be suitable for an alkaline diet, several types of tea are alkaline enough to be a good match. Here are the best teas to look into brewing when you’re trying to stick to an alkaline diet:
- Fennel tea: Fennel tea is a popular tea for digestive and metabolic health. This lightly licorice-flavored tea is a good option for drinking after meals to help prevent heartburn and other stomach issues.
- Mint tea: Two popular types of mint tea are peppermint tea and spearmint tea. Mint tea is consumed for relaxation and to freshen breath.
- Chamomile tea: Chamomile tea is a good tea for insomnia and other sleep issues since it can help you fall asleep. It’s also a calming tea that can help with digestive problems.
- Sage tea: Sage tea is made from an herb in the same family as mint, though this plant and tea have a much different aroma than mint. Sage tea is full of antioxidants and other nutrients. These natural chemicals can reduce inflammation and stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Lemongrass tea: Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in Southasian foods, and it can also be consumed as an herbal tea. Lemongrass tea is usually taken on an empty stomach for detoxification purposes.
- Green tea: Unlike black tea, green tea does not undergo oxidation. This leaves it in an alkaline state. This form of tea has been used in elaborate tea ceremonies in Japan for hundreds of years.
Even if you’re trying to avoid acidic foods, there are plenty of tea options that you can try. There’s no need to quit tea cold turkey!
What Tea Add-ins Decrease Alkalinity?
Many types of tea are mildly acidic, but even if you choose a type of tea that is less acidic, there are things you can add to tea that will increase its acidity. Here are some of the common tea add-ins that will make your tea less alkaline:
- Lemon: Lemon slices are commonly served with black tea as well as many types of herbal tea. Squeezing lemon juice is performed to brighten the tea’s flavor, but this also gives the tea an extra dose of acidity. Lemon juice has an acidity of 3.
- Honey: Honey is added as a sweetener and has a pH of 3.5 to 5.5 depending on the types of nectar that it is based on.
- Milk: While milk is sometimes taken as a folk remedy to cure an acidic stomach, milk is slightly acidic itself since it contains lactic acid. This means that milk has a pH of around 6.9.
If you want to keep your tea as alkaline as possible, try to avoid adding anything to your tea that will make it more acidic.
Does Brew Time Affect How Alkaline Tea Is?
Brew time has a significant impact on how alkaline or acidic tea ends up. The longer tea is steeped or brewed, the more acidic the tea will become.
This is one of the reasons why green tea is so alkaline compared to other types of tea. Green tea is naturally alkaline, but it’s also steeped for a very short amount of time. This short infusion doesn’t give the tea a chance to build up acidity.
How Does Tea’s Acidity Affect the Body?
The reason you might seek out alkaline teas versus acidic teas is because of the effects that acidic drinks like tea can have on the body. Here are two of the major concerns people have when it comes to ingesting acidic drinks like tea:
- Tooth enamel: Acidic food and drink is associated with the erosion of tooth enamel. Along with this damage to the enamel, tea can also stain teeth. This erosion can eventually lead to cavities and tooth sensitivity. To avoid dental issues associated with acidic drinks, be sure to rinse your mouth after drinking acidic beverages. In addition, to maintain your tooth enamel, make sure to wait at least 30 minutes after consuming tea to brush your teeth.
- Digestion: For some people, consuming acidic food and drink can increase the amount of stomach acid in their digestive system. This in turn can lead to digestive problems such as acid reflux, heartburn, and stomach ulcers.
Even though most teas are acidic, the amount of tea that most people drink isn’t enough to greatly impact dental or digestive health.
As long as proper precautions are taken to protect your teeth and drink plenty of water, tea shouldn’t affect the body’s acidity. Alkaline teas are usually a good option for people who already have pre-existing issues with digestive acid or tooth sensitivity.
Can You Make Acidic Tea More Alkaline?
Along with things like lemon and honey that can make tea more acidic, there are also things you can add to tea that can increase its alkalinity. Here are a few ways you can make your tea more alkaline if you’re sensitive to the acid in tea:
- Water: One easy way to make tea less acidic is to dilute it with water. Since water is a neutral pH, watering down tea can make it more alkaline. It’s a good idea to dilute strong acidic teas such as lemon tea if your stomach is sensitive to them.
- Baking soda: A tiny pinch of baking soda can be added to a hot mug of steaming tea to neutralize the acidity of the tea infusion. This can help to decrease the bitter taste of some tea varieties, too.
Even though these methods can be used to make tea more alkaline, they can also negatively impact flavor. If you need to drink alkaline teas, you’re better off sticking with the ones that have a naturally high pH.
Tea Can Be Acidic or Alkaline
Tea can be alkaline, but most teas are acidic. Luckily, there are plenty of teas available that won’t have any negative acidic impact on your body when you drink them. Even for people who are sensitive to acidic drinks, tea can still be safely included as part of your everyday diet.