September 10 2020 – Diana L
Do you love drinking black tea but wonder "is black tea is acidic or alkaline?" Some people drink black tea to boost alertness and energy. Others believe tea is acidic so 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 all the teas are mildly acidic with herbal tea being the least acidic. The acid that is present in tea leaves is known as tannic acid. Citric acid is also found in herbal teas and dried fruits.
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 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, striking a balance of alkaline and acidity. 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, add milk or more water which is neutral and will minimize the acidic effect.
Average pH Level of Tea:
- Blackberry tea: pH2-3
- Lemon tea: pH3
- Black tea: pH6.37
- Herbal tea: pH6-7
- Green tea: pH7-10
Based on the list above, black tea falls just below the neutral pH zone.
Because black teas contain more tannins than other teas, the flavor is more bitter or astringent which leads people to think black tea is more acidic. However, don't judge by taste alone. A Turkish study showed that fruit teas, which are not bitter, are actually more acidic.
Does tea stain your teeth?
Home-brewed and herbal teas are less acidic than fruit juices. People typically associate tea drinkers with stains on their teeth. Even though black tea is mildly acidic, it isn't always the cause of the discoloration and staining.
Consider the way you are drinking your tea. Do not hold your tea in your mouth letting the tea soak on your enamel. Also, it has been recommended to avoid brushing your teeth for about half an hour after drinking tea because more acidic teas can soften the tooth enamel, and brushing immediately could damage the enamel. However, the British Dental Journal found that after two minutes of drinking tea, pH levels are restored which really isn't enough time to cause damage to your teeth.
Other factors might be the actual culprit for the stains. Fruit juice or sodas could actually be causing the stains instead of the tea alone. Here are some other factors that can affect your oral health:
- The balance of tea to water
- How long the tea is steeped
- How the tea is consumed
- Frequency of tea consumption
- Ingredients added to the tea such as milk, herbs, or flavoring
Steeping time vs acidity level
The shorter the steep, the lower the acidity level and making it nearly neutral and safe for your oral health and digestion. Most loose leaf teas steep best between 2-5 minutes. After five minutes, tea will start releasing more acid. After fifteen minutes, the acidity level greatly increases. Loose-leaf brewed teas simply do not require (nor taste best) with that length of steep.
Now that the acidity level of black tea has been revealed, focus on all the health benefits of black tea.
Health Benefits of Black Tea
- The amino acid L-theanine in black tea balances out our moods and helps promote relief from stress.
- Black tea improves your focus 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
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.
Research has shown that both green and black tea can help lower LDL 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.
Phytonutrients in black tea, called flavonoids, are beneficial for heart health. Studies have found that consuming black tea regularly (1-2 cups per day) may help reduce the risk of:
- Heart disease
- Cancer cell invasiveness. 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.
- Reducing the risk of Type2 Diabetes
- Reducing the risk of a stroke
Supports Healthy Bones
Those who consume tea regularly have been found to have healthier bones than the ones who don’t. The phytoestrogen and fluoride present in tea are known to help in maintaining bone mineral density. In addition, the phytochemicals help lower the risk of developing arthritis. Avoid adding sugar to optimize these benefits.
The best combination for your body is a habit of healthy eating and drinking tea. Steep a cup of tea and give your body a boost towards health and happiness.
And please, always remember to consult with your doctor about any medical advice.