Is Black Tea Acidic?

September 10, 2020

Acidity of Loose Leaf Black Tea

Do you love drinking black tea but wonder whether black tea is acidic or alkaline? Some people drink black tea a few times a day to boost alertness and energy. Many believe tea is acidic as they drink tea to help with digestion.

If you are in one of these groups, we understand your concern. Too much acidity in your diet could adversely affect your digestion as well as damage your oral health. 

Yes, black tea is acidic. But wait...let's follow that up with saying that all the teas are mildly acidic, the least acidic being herbal teas. The acid that is present in tea leaves is known as tannic acid. Citric acid is also found in herbal teas and dried fruits.

But the level of acidity varies significantly depending on the type of tea leaf. Each type of tea has different degrees of alkalinity and acidity. The older, more tender, and weak tea leaves are considered more acidic. Black and green tea are actually less acidic than coffee. 

What is a Safe pH Level in Tea?

Acidity is measured on a pH scale. Low pH means high acidity, and high pH means more alkaline. A pH of seven is considered neutral. The pH level of most teas is neutral and negligible.

However, some tests do reveal that a few types of tea have a pH level of 3 and even below making them quite acidic. In that case, adding more water, or milk which will reduce the acidity. Water is neutral and will minimize the acidic effect. A safe pH level in tea is considered 5.5, striking a balance of alkaline and acidity.

Comparing acidity in different types of loose leaf tea

Average pH Level in Different Types of Teas:

  • Blackberry tea: pH2-3
  • Lemon tea: pH3
  • Black tea: pH4.99-5.55
  • Herbal tea: pH6-7
  • Green tea: pH7-10

Based on the list above, black tea falls right in the safe pH zone. Tea with a bitter flavor typically means that tea is more acidic. However, you need to be careful by judging by taste alone as a Turkish study showed that fruit teas, which are not bitter, are actually more acidic.

Did you know that home-brewed and herbal teas are less acidic than fruit juices? People typically associate tea drinkers with stains on their teeth. Since we have just said that tea is acidic, you're probably thinking that tea is the cause of the discoloration and staining.

However, other factors might be the actual culprit for the stains. If you drink a lot of fruit juice or sodas, they could actually be causing the stains instead of the tea alone. Here are some other factors that can affect your oral health:

  • How the tea is prepared
  • How the tea is consumed
  • How long the tea is steeped
  • The balance of tea to water
  • Time of day the tea is consumed
  • Frequency of tea consumption
  • What was added to the tea such as milk, herbs, or flavors

The acidity level can also vary by steeping time. The shorter the steep, the lower the acidity level and making it nearly neutral and safe for your oral health and digestion. After five minutes, tea will start releasing more acid. When the brewing time is around fifteen minutes, the acidity level greatly increases.

Loose-leaf brewed teas simply do not require (nor taste best) with that length of steep. Most loose leaf teas steep best between 2-5 minutes. The British Dental Journal also found that pH levels restore about two minutes after drinking black tea which they state really isn’t enough time to cause oral damage.

Plus, consider the way you are drinking your tea. Do not hold your tea in your mouth letting the tea soak on your enamel. It is also important not to brush your teeth for about half an hour after drinking tea. More acidic teas can soften the tooth enamel, and brushing immediately could damage the enamel.

So now that your worry about acidity in black tea has been relieved, you can focus on the health benefits that black tea can provide. Read on to find out exactly why black tea is considered to be so beneficial for you.

Relieves Your Stress

Did you know that tea can help relieve the feeling of stress? The caffeine in tea is absorbed in a way to stimulate mental focus and increase your concentration level. With black tea, you will still get the benefits of caffeine—like an increase in energy and alertness—without the crash because the caffeine in tea is absorbed at a slower, more steady rate than the caffeine in coffee. Studies show:

  • The amino acid L-theanine in black tea balances out our moods and helps promote relief from stress, making us feel good.
  • It improves your focus on things in a relaxed manner.
  • Regular consumption of black tea may help boost your memory function
  • Antioxidants, called polyphenols, are known to help block DNA damage caused by tobacco

Lowers Cholesterol

Research has shown that both green and black tea can help lower cholesterol levels. Both from the Camellia Sinensis plant, green tea is prepared from unfermented leaves while black tea from fully fermented leaves. Catechins, a type of antioxidant found in both teas, are responsible for lowering cholesterol. The more fermented the tea leaves, the lower the catechin content, and the higher the caffeine content.

Prevents Diseases

Studies suggest that women who consume black tea more often have a lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who don't drink black tea. If you consume it in moderate amounts, it may also help in preventing other cancers. According to studies, if you drink 1-2 cups of black tea daily, the chances of you getting Type 2 Diabetes could be lowered by 70%. Other studies also suggest that if you consume about two cups of it every day, it could lower your risk of having a stroke.

Supports Healthy Bones

It has been suggested that people who drink tea regularly have healthier bones than the ones who don’t. Phytoestrogen and fluoride – two substances present in tea – are known to help in maintaining bone mineral density. In addition, tea drinkers have a lower risk of developing arthritis because of the phytochemicals found in tea. To optimize this benefit, avoid adding sugar (not to mention those empty calories).

The best combination for your body is a habit of healthy eating and drinking tea. So go steep a cup of tea and start giving your body a boost towards health and happiness.

And please, always remember to consult with your doctor about any medical advice.


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