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Is Tea Less Acidic Than Coffee? What’s in Your Cup?

There is a wave of people giving up coffee in favor of teas like green tea and black tea. Have you ever wondered if tea is less acidic than coffee?  We know that coffee and tea can stain our teeth and keep us awake, but what do these beverages do to our stomachs and tooth enamel? And which one is better in the long run?

Green tea and black teas are usually less acidic than coffee.  However, there are types of tea that are more acidic than coffee. This includes rosehip tea, most bottled iced teas, and teas made with fruit juices. 

There are other factors that matter when talking about the level of acidity of tea and coffee. The source of the tea and coffee matters when it comes to acidity, almost as much as the type of tea or coffee.

The nutrients that are in the soil as well as what the plants are treated with play a role. Not to mention that the damage done to your teeth and stomach varies with each type. 

Which Teas Are The Most Acidic?

The type of tea leaves matters when talking about acid levels. Quite often, coffee has a fairly consistent acidity and pH level. But tea is a different story. Tea has many types and varieties that people enjoy drinking. Tea is also sourced from all over the world. 

The least acidic of the true teas, typically, are green tea and white tea, followed closely by chamomile tea (which is actually an herbal tisane) . Even though green tea is less acidic, it actually has as much caffeine as coffee, while chamomile has no caffeine content and low acidity. 

Oolong tea has a pH level of 5.5-7, so it’s also a good choice if you’re looking for a low acid choice.

The most common cup of tea, black tea, is low on the acid scale and has moderate caffeine. Black tea has slightly less acid than coffee, so if you tend to have heartburn, you might opt for a cup of English Breakfast tea, rather than a mug of coffee. 

If you are concerned about the acidity of coffee and have switched to tea, it is important to make sure that you have not just switched to a type of tea that has a high acid level, because it might actually be more acidic than coffee.

info graphic showing the ph levels of teas and coffee
Check out this acidity chart for different teas, coffees and other drinks.

How Do You Measure Acid Levels in Tea?

Acidity is determined by the pH scale.   The pH scale ranges from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic or alkaline).  Pure water is right in the middle with a pH value of 7.0 and is considered neutral.  

So, a drink that would be considered an acidic beverage would have a pH of less than 7.0. The lower the pH, the more acidic.  Most teas are mildly acidic, but some research shows that certain teas, especially bottled iced tea, may have a pH as low as 3, which is considered strongly acidic.

In general, most herbal teas that aren’t fruit based are lower in acid. Herbal teas are also caffeine-free teas, which can be an added bonus if you’re cutting back.

Since most fruit is naturally acidic, most fruit teas will be higher on the acid chart. So stay away from lemon tea and other different types of tea made from fruit.

If you’re looking for a soothing evening beverage, a hot cup of camomile will be easy on your teeth and your stomach. 

How to Lower the Acidity of Your Tea

If you’re concerned about the acidity of your tea there are several things you can do:

  • Cut down the brewing time whether you use tea bags or loose leaf tea
  • Dilute brewed tea with water, milk, or cream
  • Choose a more alkaline tea with a higher pH level, like green tea, chamomile or mint
  • Don’t add lemon juice, orange juice or juices from other citrus fruits
is tea less acidic than coffee on your stomach
Tea is normally less acidic than coffee if you have stomach issues.

While not a true tea, ginger tea has been shown to soothe an upset stomach and help with digestive issues, so it’s also a good choice. It’s also a great choice because it has less caffeine (actually none!), than any of the true teas.

How to Lower the Acidity of Your Coffee

Coffee lovers, don’t despair. There are factors that play into making the coffee less acidic. If you are trying to make sure that your morning brew is a low acid coffee and has the least side effects, then try out these tips. 

Low Elevation Beans

Coffee beans that were grown at lower altitudes have naturally lower acidity. This has to do with soil nutrients. Finding out the elevation of the plants will have to do with the country of origin. Mountainous growing regions will have higher growth elevations. 

Dark Roast Coffee

The longer a bean is roasted, the lower the acidity of the coffee and the lower the caffeine. While a blonde roast may be smoother, it is actually more acidic.  So if you want a less acidic coffee, stick to dark roasts.

Cold Brew

Cold-brew is a popular choice right now. It is easy to make at home and is less acidic than a traditional brew made with hot water. Cold brews are a great way to start your morning or to have a low acid afternoon pick me up. You can even get fancy and whip up a nitro cold brew at home if you have the right equipment.

Add Salt

If you are trying to lower the acidity of your morning cup of coffee, you can add some salt to the grounds before you brew. Just a little bit will go a long way, and you won’t have salty coffee. This is a coffee hack that anyone can try today. 

Adding salt to your tea can help if you're bothered by the acidity.
Adding a pinch of salt to your coffee grounds can make it taste less bitter.

Egg Shells

Another brewing hack to lower the acidity of your coffee is to brew with eggshells. The eggshells are high in calcium, and that cuts acidity. The key is to make sure you have rinsed the shells well to make sure all of the egg is gone. 

How Acidic Tea & Coffee Affect Acid Reflux

People that already suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease that causes acid reflux typically stay away from tea, coffee, acidic drinks, and other acidic foods because they are too acidic. But do they have to? When it comes to tea, while it has caffeine and certain levels of acidity, it is actually much better for heartburn sufferers than coffee. 

However, it isn’t because of the acid levels or caffeine. Even though coffee has a stimulant in it, it is also a type of muscle relaxer. There is a muscle between the stomach and the esophagus called the lower esophageal sphincter, and when it relaxes, it allows the stomach acid to move back up the esophagus, causing heartburn. 

Some people say the reason coffee causes heartburn is because of the acid or even the caffeine, but that isn’t the case. Even decaf has been known to cause heartburn in some people.  If you’re extra sensitive, don’t drink coffee or tea on an empty stomach.

Cup of low acidic tea on a linen placemat
Most coffees have a higher acidity level than most teas.

Does Acid in Tea and Coffee Affect Bone Density?

Another aspect of consuming acidic beverages such as tea and coffee is the concern for bone density. It isn’t clear if it has to do with the acid levels of coffee or something else, but typically those that drink coffee often will have lower bone density than tea drinkers. 

This seems to be the case even though some teas are higher in acidity than coffee. If you have a history of bone loss in your family or other risk factors, then you may want to stick with a low acid tea. 

A terrific herbal tea choice is chamomile. Not only is this tea nearly neutral on the pH scale, chamomile tea is good for acid reflux.

Ask your doctor which teas are the safest for you to drink or avoid if you have bone density problems.  

Are Coffee and Tea Harmful to Teeth?

The truth about your teeth when it comes to coffee and tea is more complicated than some people think. Your teeth do stain because of the color of the beverages but how it affects your enamel is the bigger issue.  If your tooth enamel has been damaged, you’re more likely to experience tooth decay and cavities.

Tea has a wider range of pigments than coffee does. A cup of coffee is just black or dark brown, while tea carries varied pigments. Because of the pigments and the acid, tea may harm your enamel faster than coffee will. 

Tea might stain your teeth faster, but that is just because it is darker, typically than coffee. One way that coffee drinkers and tea drinkers can combat this damage without giving up tea and coffee is to drink your beverage through a straw. 

is tea acidic showing many types of tea
Herbal teas like chamomile and mint are the least acidic of the teas.

Worried About Your Teeth? Don’t Do This

Did you know that there are certain ways of drinking tea and coffee that can affect your oral health more than others? These methods tend to let the drink linger in the mouth and around the teeth, increasing the time your teeth are exposed to the acid.  If you’re worried about your tooth enamel and tea stains on your teeth, follow these guidelines about what NOT to do.

Swishing Tea or Coffee

Swishing tea or coffee around in your mouth like mouthwash is not a good way to protect your enamel from the acid. It is just the opposite. This will bathe your teeth in the acid and pigments that will can damage the enamel. 

Holding Tea or Coffee in Your Mouth

While those who love coffee and tea may want to savor the beverage for a little bit longer, it is not wise to hold the tea or coffee in their mouths. As with swishing the liquid around in your mouth, your teeth are being exposed to the acid for a long period. This will further weaken the teeth as well as stain them. 

is coffee more acidic than tea
To maintain your tooth enamel, don’t brush your teeth immediately after drinking.

Brushing Immediately After Drinking Tea or Coffee

No one likes coffee breath, but did you know it is bad for your teeth to brush right after coffee or tea? Because these beverages are acidic, some more so than others, if you brush right after, you will remove some of the newly weakened enamel. 

The Good News:  There’s Always a Low Acid Choice with Tea

While it is true that some types of tea are more acidic than others, there are many choices like green tea, white tea, chamomile, and mint tea that are low on the pH scale.

Even if you must have that super strong cup of black tea or coffee, there are things you can do to lower the acidity levels and any negative effects you may be experiencing. 

Thankfully, there’s no reason to give up that morning caffeine and all the health benefits of tea unless you just want to.  

If you love tea as much as I do, pin this to your favorite tea-loving Pinterest board and pass it on for others to enjoy! Pinkies up!