Oolong tea has either a neutral pH value or is slightly acidic, and there are ways you can reduce its acidity. If you suffer from acid reflux symptoms, you need to consider more than the pH scale or level of acidity to determine whether your favorite tea will give you problems.
Is Oolong Tea Acidic?
This article explains the acidity of oolong tea, how to make oolong tea less acidic, its numerous health benefits, and the relationship between acidic beverages and acid reflux.
What Is Oolong Tea?
Oolong tea is made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis tea plants. Black tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea are all made from the same type of tea leaves and are called true tea.
The difference between oolong tea and other types of black tea is the extent of the oxidation process that takes place, meaning how much the tea leaves are allowed to dry out during processing.
The oxidation process affects the color and flavor of the tea. Oolong tea has a more delicate flavor than black tea.
Black tea is fully oxidized (fermented) until the tea leaves turn black, giving black tea the most robust flavor of all true teas.
In contrast, green tea leaves are not oxidized at all. Oolong tea leaves are partially oxidized, and white tea is only slightly exposed to the oxidation process.
Oolong tea is available as loose leaf tea or in tea bags.
Is Tea Acidic?
Some people worry about the acidity of tea because they have acid reflux. Too many acidic foods and beverages can aggravate acid reflux symptoms.
Most true teas are slightly acidic. Black tea and green tea are more acidic than oolong tea. White tea is slightly alkaline.
Acid levels in herbal teas and fruit teas vary depending on the ingredients in the tea.
Is Oolong Tea Acidic Or Alkaline (Basic)?
Oolong tea may have a neutral pH value, or it may be slightly acidic depending on the acidity of the soil the tea plants are grown in.
For most people drinking oolong tea will not cause symptoms of acid reflux. However, drinking too much tea may bring on acid reflux symptoms.
Acidity Levels Of Tea And Acid Reflux
Acidity levels are not the only factor to consider when deciding whether different types of tea are likely to give you acid reflux.
For example, mint tea has a neutral pH value; however, it typically causes acid reflux symptoms. Mint tea loosens your lower esophageal sphincter muscle, allowing stomach acid to move back up into your esophagus (food pipe) and give you heartburn.
Caffeine content and tannins in tea make your stomach produce more stomach acid, while caffeine also loosens your lower esophageal sphincter muscle.
Commercially made ready-to-drink teas such as iced tea and sweet tea are more acidic than homemade versions (1). This is due to the preservatives needed to extend the shelf life of commercially made drinks. Sometimes these drinks have a high sugar content or use artificial sweeteners, which trigger symptoms of acid reflux too.
Adding other ingredients to your cup of tea may also cause acid reflux symptoms. For example, milk, lots of sugar, artificial sweeteners, or the addition of spices can also cause problems if these foods trigger your acid reflux.
How To Make Oolong Tea Less Acidic
The acidity of tea can change depending on several factors. That’s why you often see the acid levels of different types of tea given as a range rather than an exact amount.
Tea plants grown in acidic soil produce tea leaves with a higher level of acidity.
At tea time, you can make your cup of tea less acidic by:
- Choosing loose leaf tea because it is less acidic than tea bags. Tea bags contain broken tea leaves, and these release more acid.
- A shorter steep time for your tea will reduce acid levels. Steeping tea for a long time makes a strong, more acidic cup of tea.
- Using cooler water produces a weaker, less acidic tea.
- Using fewer tea leaves also reduces the acidity of tea.
pH Scale For Tea
The pH scale measures acidity levels. pH values range from 1 to 14:
- a pH of 1 is the most acidic
- a pH of 7 is neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline
- a pH of 14 is the most alkaline or basic.
The table below shows you the different pH levels of common teas.
|Types of Tea
|Average Acidity Level (PH Value)
|Commercially made, ready to drink teas
e.g. iced tea or sweet tea
|2.9 – 3.4
|4.9 – 5.5
|4.9 – 5.5
|Earl Grey Tea
|4.9 – 5.5
|5.5 – 7
|6 – 7
|6 – 7
|6 – 7
|6.5 – 6.8
|6.7 – 7.1
|Yerba Mate Tea
|6.7 – 7.8
|7 – 7.5
|8 – 10
Best Teas For Acidity and Acid Reflux
If you have acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, it’s best NOT to rely on the pH scale to determine the best teas to drink for acidity.
For example, mint tea has a ph value of 7, which is neither acidic nor alkaline; however, it contains compounds that commonly cause symptoms of acid reflux.
Another tea with a neutral pH that you’ll want to avoid if you have acid reflux is yerba mate, which has high caffeine content and tannins that increases stomach acidity levels, and caffeine loosens your lower esophageal sphincter.
The amount of tea you can drink each day depends on the severity of your acid reflux symptoms or gastroesophageal reflux disease and the type of tea.
Some of the best teas for acid reflux include:
- ginger tea
- chamomile tea
- licorice tea
- fennel teas
- slippery elm tea
- marshmallow root tea
- green tea
- oolong tea
- turmeric tea
Amazing Health Benefits Of Oolong Tea
There are numerous health benefits of regularly drinking oolong tea (3). All black teas contain phenolic compounds and catechins, making oolong tea a healthy beverage. Although oolong tea doesn’t have the same strength of health benefits as green tea, it’s still an excellent tea to drink.
Health Benefits Of Oolong Tea
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antibacterial properties
- Weight loss
- Protects against heart disease (4)
- Protects against breast cancer
- It prevents alcoholic liver disease
If you suffer from acid reflux symptoms, drinking a cup of oolong tea every day will help. Oolong tea’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties can help combat H. pylori bacteria and inflammation in your digestive tract, commonly associated with acid reflux.
Stress has a direct impact on your digestive system. If you are stressed, the muscles in your digestive system tense up and spasm, and this can cause diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or gas (3). Hot water expands blood vessels in your stomach, improving circulation, relaxing muscles, and reducing stomach pain.
Side Effects Of Too Much Oolong Tea
Drinking oolong tea is considered safe for most people, although if you are prone to acid reflux symptoms, you should be wary of the caffeine content.
Too Much Caffeine
Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, high blood pressure (5).
Acid Reflux and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease are common reasons why some people avoid acidic beverages.
For most people with mild acid reflux symptoms, an occasional cup of tea will not cause problems.
Caffeine and tannins will increase stomach acidity levels if you have too much tea. And caffeine also relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter muscle. Both of these factors can bring on symptoms of acid reflux.
To reduce your chances of acid reflux, you may want to avoid drinking oolong tea on an empty stomach and limit yourself to one or two cups of tea per day.
The tannins in tea can stain your teeth. If you regularly consume drinks that have a pH value below 5.5, you should consider drinking through a straw or rinsing your mouth after drinking to prevent tooth decay and stains.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid comes back up from your stomach into your esophagus or food pipe. Heartburn is the burning sensation you may feel in your chest due to stomach acid irritating the lining of your esophagus.
Your lower esophageal sphincter is a one-way valve between your esophagus and stomach. Usually, it shuts tight and doesn’t let stomach acid and food reflux back up into your esophagus.
Acid reflux happens if there is too much pressure on your stomach or your lower esophageal sphincter muscle is loose. Acidic foods and acidic beverages are common causes of acid reflux; however, many other factors give you acid reflux as well.
If you’re suffering from acid reflux twice a week or more, you may have gastroesophageal reflux disease and should consult a doctor. If left untreated, serious complications may develop.
Acid Reflux Symptoms
- Burning sensation in your chest
- Stomach pain
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
- Weight loss
Summary: Is Oolong Tea Acidic?
Oolong tea has either a neutral pH value or is slightly acidic, depending on whether the tea plants are grown in acidic soil and the oxidation process. Oolong tea is unlikely to cause acid reflux unless you drink too much.