A lot of things have been said about tea, some of which are true and others are just myths. For instance, many reports indicate that the cup of tea you enjoy every day could be hurting your teeth and stomach because it’s acidic. This has left many tea lovers with many questions, including: Is tea acidic? If so, how acidic is it, and can it hurt me?
Is Tea Acidic?
Fundamentally, most varieties of tea are known to be mildly acidic, but some have an acidity level (pH) of as low as 3. To understand the level of acidity in your tea, you need to begin by appreciating the meaning of acidity. By understanding the basics of acidity and its influence on foods and drinks, you’ll be able to answer the questions indicated above.
Acidity is the pH level of foods and drinks. Acidic foods and drinks usually have a pH level of 4.6 or lower. So, the lower the pH level, the higher the acidity. Acidity ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral.
A pH level of less than 7 shows high levels of acidity in the food or drink. If the pH level is above 7, it shows a base. pH is the amount of free hydrogen and hydroxyl ions in food or drink.
Foods and drinks with high levels of acidity have large amounts of free hydrogen, while those that are basic have large amounts of free hydroxyl ions. Aside from showing the level of acidity in what you eat or drink, pH is also important for indicating chemical changes in foods and drinks because it’s easily affected by compounds in the water and food. pH is shown in “logarithmic units”, with every number representing a 10-fold change in the acidity or basicness of the drink or food.
It’s also important to note that highly acidic drinks and foods don’t develop microorganisms quickly, allowing them to stay longer without going bad or decomposing. Fortunately, most varieties of tea are mildly acidic. The two main types of tea are black tea and green tea. So, it’s important to be aware of their acidity levels to know which one suits you.
Also referred to as red tea, especially in East Asia, black tea is a type of tea that’s highly oxidized. This type of tea generally has a stronger flavor than green tea and other types of tea. Black tea is made from the leaves of a shrub (small tree) known as Camellia sinensis.
The black/red color of this beverage comes from the oxidized tea leaves. The leaves have to be processed properly to produce the desired color. The other difference between black tea and green is the fact that black tea retains its full flavor for years, while green loses its flavor in less than a year.
In terms of acidity, black tea ranges between 4.9 and 5.5 on the pH scale. This means that black tea is mildly acidic. It’s also important to mention that the level of pH in your black tea depends on several factors, including the type of tea leaves used, the region it’s grown, and when it’s harvested.
Green tea is a type of tea made from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that haven’t been taken through the oxidation process. Although green tea originated in East Asia, its production has spread across the globe, giving rise to numerous varieties of green tea, which vary based on the variation of C. Sinensis used to produce them, production processing, harvesting time, where they’re grown, and how they’re grown.
Green tea is known to offer more health benefits than black/red tea. It contains two unique components: catechins and theanine. The amazing health benefits offered by these components have driven tea lovers from around the world to switch from black tea to green tea.
Furthermore, the level of acidity in green tea is lower than that of black tea. Its pH scale ranges between 7 and 10, which means that it can either be mildly acidic or basic.
What Kind of Tea Is the Least Acidic?
Scientists have discovered a direct link between highly acidic foods and drinks and various health problems, including dental and digestion complications. This revelation has left many tea lovers concerned about the acidity levels of their favorite cup of tea. That’s why many people are now switching to low-acidic tea intending to prevent health complications related to high acidity.
As noted above, the process of preparing tea leaves determines how acidic the final product will be. For instance, black tea leaves are usually oxidized and withered to give them the preferred color and taste. Unfortunately, this process increases the acidity levels of black tea.
The level of acidity in tea also depends on the ingredients included. For instance, if you add citrus ingredients like peels and rosehips to your black or green tea, its acidity levels will increase. Dairy products like milk will also affect the acidity of your tea because they contain calcium, which is alkaline, as well as lactic acid, which can increase acidity.
As discussed above, less acidic teas have a higher number on the pH scale. Therefore, black tea and green tea fall into the category of less acidic teas. Although black tea is between 4.9 and 5.5 on the pH scale, it’s considered less acidic than other types of tea that are lower than 3 on the pH scale. Other less acidic teas include Chamomile tea, Fennel tea, and Mint tea because their acidity levels are almost neutral.
What Kind of Tea Is Most Acidic?
The most acidic teas are those with very low values on the pH scale. Most of these teas are made from fruits like citrus, blackberry, and rosehip. Their acidity usually ranges between 2 and 3 on the pH scale.
It’s important to note that pure fruit juices usually have a pH level of between 3 and 4, while fizzy fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks have a pH level of between 2 and 3. So, if you have acidity problems, avoid fruit teas and other related drinks. Black, green, and herbal teas are within the safe range of beverages and foods and aren’t known to cause any digestive or dental issues.
What Tea Is Acid-Free?
As noted above, herbal teas have very low acidity levels. In fact, most of them are neutral or basic because their pH numbers are above 7, which is neutral. These teas also don’t have caffeine, which tends to increase acidity.
Some of the most common herbal teas, whose pH levels are almost neutral, include ginger tea, licorice tea, turmeric tea, fennel tea, chamomile tea, slippery elm tea, and marshmallow root tea, among others.
What Factors Affect Tea Acidity?
If you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn, you need to understand the acidity levels of your foods and drinks so that you don’t ingest anything with high levels of acidity. You also need to know the factors that might affect your tea’s acidity. Here are the main factors affecting pH levels in tea.
1. Amount of Tea Leaves
The pH level in your tea is a mixture of water (pH neutral) and steeped tea leaves. So, if you’re using oxidized tea leaves to prepare black tea, the amount of steeped tea leaves you use will determine the level of acidity. The more leaves you add to the tea, the more acidic it’ll be.
2. Loose Tea Leaves VS. Tea Bags
Since a tea bag contains crushed and powdered tea leaves, they release more flavor at once, causing your tea to be more acidic. Loose tea leaves, on the other hand, are produced from full tea leaves and buds, so they tend to release the flavor over several brews, making your tea less acidic.
3. Temperature and Period
If you’re preparing an acidic tea, the temperature and time you take to prepare it will determine how acidic it will be. Studies have shown that tea polyphenols with a pH of 3 to 6 remain stable at 4 to 25°C. But as the temperature increases, the tea polyphenol solution becomes darker and less green, meaning that its pH level increases.
4. Variety and Harvest Date
As discussed above, the variety of tea leaves and how they’re harvested determine how acidic the tea becomes. Just as the wine grapes grown in California taste different from the same variety of grapes grown in France, the taste and pH levels of tea leaves vary based on where they’re grown.
The variations in climate and soil affect the leaves and their final flavor. Black tea has a lower pH value than green tea because it’s made from mature fermented tea leaves, while green tea is made from mature tea leaves and buds that don’t go through fermenting.
How to Lower Your Tea’s Acidity
Now that you understand the common factors affecting tea acidity, you should be able to make a less acidic tea. For instance, you can lower your tea’s acidity by choosing a less acidic variety and adding the right amount of tea leaves to your beverage. You can also do so by using loose tea leaves instead of tea bags to ensure that the leaves release their flavor and other compounds slowly.
Don’t add too many acidic ingredients to your tea like citrus peels, rosehip, lemon juice, sugar, spearmint, and other items that might increase acidity. Always prepare your tea under moderate temperatures and don’t cook it for a prolonged period. Follow these simple steps to prepare less acidic tea:
• Boil water in a pan or kettle
• Turn the heat off and add tea leaves
• Cover the container with a lid and let it brew for three to seven minutes, depending on the type of tea you’re preparing
• Add milk and sweetener, if necessary
• If you add milk, boil the tea again
• Strain your tea into a cup and enjoy
Which Is More Acidic? Coffee or Tea?
As the effects of acidity on people’s health become more apparent, many people are switching from coffee to tea because they believe that tea is less acidic than coffee. But some believe that the two beverages have virtually the same effect on them. Nonetheless, it’s important to know which one is more acidic so that you can avoid it for a healthier stomach and teeth.
The truth is that some varieties of tea are less acidic than coffee. For instance, black, green, and herbal teas have higher pH values than coffee, meaning that they’re less acidic. While the acidity levels of these types of tea range between 5 and 7 on the pH scale, most coffee varieties have an acidity level of between 3 and 5.
However, fruit teas have lower pH values than coffee, which make them more acidic. Some of these fruit teas have acidity levels of between 2 and 3. So, the variety of tea or coffee you drink determines how much acid you get.