The acidity level of different types of tea vary. Some are more acidic than others, and the way you brew your favorite tea may also change the level of acidity. The pH level of tea can help or hinder your health. Find out how acid levels in your favorite cup of tea affect you.
Is Tea Acidic Or Basic (Alkaline)?
Tea has many health benefits, which vary between the different types of tea. Depending on the type of tea leaves or ingredients, some may reduce inflammation, whereas others might lower blood pressure, promote healthy gut bacteria, or soothe an upset stomach.
Depending on what’s in your cup of tea, brewing time and even the way tea is grown and processed affect the levels of acidity.
Why The Acidity Level Of Tea Matters
Most people can enjoy a cup of tea without side effects. Unfortunately, acidic drinks can cause problems for some people, while others follow special diets high and want to know, “Is tea acidic or basic?”
Too Much Caffeine
Some teas, such as matcha tea, yerba mate, and to a lesser extent black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and green tea, all contain caffeine. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, headaches, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and in some cases, high blood pressure (1).
Caffeine and Acid Reflux
Avoiding acidic drinks is common among acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) sufferers. Although for most people with mild symptoms, an occasional cup of tea will not cause problems.
Caffeine and tannins (tannic acid) increase stomach acid. Caffeine also relaxes your lower esophageal sphincter muscle. These factors increase the likelihood of acid reflux occurring.
If you are prone to acid reflux or have a sensitive stomach, your best option is to avoid drinking teas that have high caffeine content, or acidic drinks, on an empty stomach. You may also have to limit yourself to one or two cups of these types of tea per day. However, everyone has different tolerance levels for caffeine and acidity, so listen to your body and act accordingly.
The tannins in black tea, green tea, white tea, and oolong tea can stain your teeth. Acidic drinks, including tea, may erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay.
If you regularly consume drinks with a pH value below 5.5, you should consider drinking through a straw or rinsing your mouth after drinking. This helps prevent tooth decay and stains.
Followers of alkaline diets claim you can reduce acidity levels in your body by eating alkaline foods. While the primary claim of the alkaline diet is not backed by science, researchers suggest a diet that contains a lot of alkaline foods may have health benefits (2).
pH Value of Tea
The pH scale measures the acidity level of different substances, including foods and drinks. pH values range from 1 to 14:
- pH 1 is the most acidic
- pH 7 is neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline
- pH 14 is the most alkaline or basic.
If you are curious about the acidity of the tea you favor, you can buy inexpensive pH test kits online.
The table below shows you the different pH levels of common teas.
|Types of Tea||Average Acidity Level (PH Value)|
|Hibiscus Tea||1.5 – 2|
|Commercially made, ready to drink teas|
e.g., iced tea or sweet tea
|2.9 – 3.4|
|Black Tea||4.9 – 5.5|
|Purple Tea||5.3 (approx)|
|Earl Grey Tea||4.9 – 5.5|
|Oolong Tea||5.5 – 7|
|Chamomile Tea||6 – 7|
|Mint Tea||6 – 7|
|Rooibos Tea||6 – 7|
|Hibiscus Tea||6.5 – 6.8|
|Fennel teas||6.7 – 7.1|
|Yerba Mate Tea||6.7 – 7.8|
|Ginger Tea||7 – 7.5|
|Green Tea||7.2 (approx)|
|White Tea||8 – 10|
|Matcha Tea||9 (approx)|
Commercially Bottled Teas
Ready-made teas, such as iced tea, has a pH value of around 3, depending on the ingredients. For example, iced lemon tea may have higher acid levels due to the citric acid in lemons compared to regular black iced tea.
Commercially made drinks are more acidic than homemade versions due to the preservatives needed to extend the shelf life (3). Sometimes these drinks have a high sugar content or use artificial sweeteners, which also trigger acid reflux.
True teas are the different types of tea made from the leaves of Camellia Sinensis tea plants. They include black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and the lesser-known purple tea. Different harvesting and processing techniques give each type unique characteristics and health benefits.
The acidity of black and purple tea is about pH 5 – 5.5 (4, 5). Oolong tea has a slightly higher average pH value of 5.5 – 7, and white tea is slightly basic (alkaline) with a pH between 8 – 10. Green tea has a neutral pH of close to 7.
Matcha tea also comes from leaves of Camellia Sinensis tea plants. Even though it has a high pH of around 9, making it alkaline, matcha tea is not suitable for acid reflux sufferers. It has a very high caffeine content, known to cause reflux symptoms.
If you have mild acid reflux, you may be able to drink one to three cups of green, black, or purple tea per day without suffering symptoms. However, if you have chronic acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease, the acidity level may be too much.
White tea may be your best way of getting your true tea fix as it is slightly alkaline.
Herbal teas, also called herbal infusions or tisanes, are made from herbs, spices, or other plant material infused in hot water. Most herbal teas are caffeine-free.
Hibiscus tea is very acidic and has a pH value of approximately 1.5 – 2.
Beware that teas with a neutral pH value can still cause acid reflux due to other compounds in the tea. Avoid mint tea as mint loosens your lower esophageal reflux sphincter, making you more susceptible to acid reflux. Yerba mate has a very high caffeine content which may also bring on acid reflux.
Pure fruit teas such as lemon tea and blackberry tea have a sour taste, are very acidic drinks, and may cause tooth enamel erosion, tooth decay, and acid reflux.
Fruit teas do not contain caffeine; however, typically, most commercial brands of lemon tea include black tea leaves, which contain caffeine.
How To Change the Acidity Of Tea
You can change the acidity level of your favorite tea in many ways:
- Brewing time: a longer steeping time makes a more acidic tea.
- Cooler water produces a weaker, less acidic tea.
- Using fewer tea leaves or adding more water reduces the acidity of tea.
- Additional ingredients such as milk products increase the pH value making your tea more alkaline. Small amounts of sugar won’t change the acidity of your tea. However, artificial sweeteners are acidic and may worsen acid reflux.
- Loose leaf tea is usually less acidic than tea bags. The smallest pieces of tea leaves are used in tea bags, releasing more acid into your tea.
Summary: Is Tea Acidic Or Basic?
The acidity level of different types of tea varies depending on the ingredients in your cup. The way you brew your favorite tea may also change the level of acidity. Acidic teas, if consumed frequently, may cause oral health problems or make you susceptible to acid reflux. If you suffer from acid reflux, there are other factors besides levels of acidity that you need to consider before deciding if a particular tea is right for you.