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Is Tea Bad for You? Risks & Benefits to Know

Is tea bad for you or good for you? Depending on who you ask, you might get several different answers. There are many health benefits associated with drinking tea, but there are some negative effects associated with it too. 

Tea isn’t bad for you because it contains many health benefits that can help prevent serious chronic diseases and supports cardiovascular health. However, over-consumption of tea can lead to negative symptoms from excess caffeine, oxalates, and tannins. Tea can also stain your teeth. 

Like most food and drink, there are pros and cons associated with regularly drinking tea. Read on to learn more about the positive and negative effects of drinking tea on your health.

Tea Isn’t Bad for You

Tea lovers can relax – the bottom line is that tea isn’t bad for you when you drink it in recommended amounts. Medical professionals recommend drinking no more than 3-4 cups of green or black tea per day. 

You won’t ingest more than your daily recommended dose of caffeine or other chemicals present in tea in these amounts. 

You may have even heard that tea contains nicotine like some nightshade vegetables, but that amount is so small, it’s not any kind of a health risk.

Tea Does Have Associated Health Risks

Even though tea is generally safe and even healthy for people of all ages to drink, there are a few health risks associated with drinking it. Here are some of the health concerns you should be aware of if you drink tea, especially to excess: 

  • Kidney health: Black tea contains high levels of oxalates, a chemical that can cause kidney damage over time in large doses. These oxalates also make those who are susceptible to kidney stones more likely to develop them.
  • Dental health: Tea is a mildly acidic solution with many tannins (the chemicals that make black tea liquor dark brown after steeping). These chemicals in tea stain your teeth and erode your tooth enamel without proper dental maintenance.
  • Weight gain: While many types of tea are low in calories, adding heavy dairy like cream and sweeteners like sugar can jump up the calorie content of tea. Drinking large amounts of sweetened tea throughout the day can lead to weight gain.
  • Excess caffeine: Caffeine can be a useful stimulant in low doses to increase alertness, focus, and memory retention. However, caffeine can lead to negative physical symptoms such as insomnia, gastric upset, restlessness, and irritability in excessive amounts. 

Most of the negative health risks associated with tea involve drinking too much of it. If you stay within the recommended three to four cups a day, you should be in the clear. 

tea on a wooden table with floral dish

Tea Has Associated Health Benefits

Even though there are some health risks related to drinking tea, especially to excess, many associated health benefits make drinking tea worth it. These are just a few of the advantages of drinking tea regularly: 

  • Mental clarity and focus: The caffeine in tea makes it the perfect study buddy since it helps increase alertness, memory retention, and free associations.
  • Weight loss: Even though drinking sweetened tea to excess can lead to weight gain, chemicals in tea such as polyphenols and catechins can aid with weight loss, especially when used with a healthy diet and exercise. Green tea in particular is known for speeding up the body’s metabolic processes, causing it to burn calories more quickly.
  • Antioxidants: The antioxidants present in tea have been studied for their ability to help prevent chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  
  • Enhanced mood and relaxation: Tea has been popular worldwide for centuries for its calming abilities that make anyone feel better than before they brewed a cup. The chemical in tea most associated with elevated mood and relaxation is l-theanine. 

The health benefits above show that even though tea has a few downsides if you drink too much of it, the advantages of daily tea consumption outweigh the potential health risks. 

Negative Side Effects of Tea

Even though tea is generally healthy, it can have some nasty side effects if you drink too much of it. These are a few of the symptoms you might experience if you drink too much tea: 

  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Digestive upset

To experience the negative side effects of caffeine, you have to ingest enough caffeine to induce a caffeine overdose. As long as you don’t drink more than a few cups of it a day, you shouldn’t experience any negative symptoms at all. 

Is It Safe to Drink Tea Instead of Water?

Tea is a safe substitute to drink in place of water since it is almost as hydrating as water. The major advantage of drinking tea instead of water is that tea is full of nutrients and essential minerals that plain water doesn’t provide. 

risks and benefits of tea

Is Tea Healthier Than Coffee?

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to coffee, tea is a good choice to consider. Here are the qualities of tea that make it a healthier option compared to coffee: 

  • Less sugar: Black sugar is usually too bitter to drink without adding dairy and sweeteners to soften its flavors. However, mild tea varieties such as oolong and green tea are usually consumed without additional sugar. These teas also contain chemicals that speed up your metabolism. This makes them a great low-calorie option as a result.
  • Less caffeine: Tea has caffeine, but it has less caffeine in it than coffee. If you drink green tea or matcha vs coffee, another health advantage of tea over coffee is that the caffeine in green tea is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream. This gives green tea a more gentle “buzz” than coffee, and is less likely to make you jittery.

The one advantage that coffee has over tea is that coffee has more antioxidants. But since both drinks contain these nutrients and coffee preparations tend to have more calories, you’re still better off going with tea if you’re looking for a healthy option. 

Tea Is a Healthy Drink – Benefits outweigh the Risks

At the end of the day, tea isn’t bad for you. If you drink tea in moderation, it can even help improve your general health. This is especially true if you replace your daily sweetened coffee drink with a sugarless green tea drink instead. From helping to stabilize your blood sugar to improving your mood, tea can positively affect health in many ways. 

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