The Health Effects of Tea - Does tea have any risks or side effects?

News about the health effects of tea is popping up everywhere. As our renewed love of tea grows by leaps and bounds, we're discovering that not only is tea fresh, versatile, and available in a multitude of delicious new blends and flavors, but it's good for us, too!

But... are there any risks or side effects of tea? Can tea really be that good for us?

According to current research about true tea (tea from the Camellia sinensis tea plant), the health effects of tea may not all be positive... Tea may have some risks and side effects, as well.

Let's take a look at some of the discoveries about the health effects of tea that you may want to be aware of.

Don't drink your tea too hot!

A 2008 study showed that drinking hot or very hot tea may increase your risk of developing esophageal cancer.

The participants in this Iranian study were at greater risk for esophageal cancer when they regularly drank their tea at hot (65-69C / 149-156F) or very hot (over 70C / 158F) temperatures.

The cancer risk was also greater when tea was consumed within 3 minutes after pouring, rather than letting the tea sit for 4 or more minutes before drinking.

Health Effects of Tea

Nearly all of the study participants drank black tea regularly, averaging just over 1 L (about 4 1/4 cups) per day. But, in this study, the amount of tea consumed didn't significantly affect the possibility of developing esophageal cancer.

Read more about this research here (including a number of interesting responses to the study).

Watch how much tea (and fluoride) you sip daily

Tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis tea plant (black, oolong, pu-erh, green, and white teas) have naturally occurring fluoride and, when you brew yourself a cup of tea, some of that fluoride seeps into your drink. A side effect of drinking extreme amounts of tea is exposing yourself to dangerously high levels of fluoride, which can lead to skeletal fluorosis, a painful, debilitating bone and joint disease.

Most of us consume safe amounts of fluoride each day (2 to 3 milligrams from drinking water and toothpaste). However, if you regularly drink excessive amounts of tea, you may have cause for concern about the health effects of tea.

For example, The New England Journal of Medicine published a report about a woman who, for 17 years, routinely drank huge quantities of tea (100-150 teabags daily, totaling over 20 mg fluoride) and developed skeletal fluorosis.

A recent study from Medical College of Georgia researchers suggests that the amount of fluoride in tea could be higher than previously thought - as much as 9 mg per liter (4 1/4 cups) of black tea.

You can learn more about high levels of tea and skeletal fluorosis, including a summary of current research, at

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Learn more about potential side effects of tea here. 

Everything old is new again, and tea is experiencing a rebirth around the world. Every day, more and more of us are appreciating this aromatic, versatile beverage!

Even so, it's wise to stay up-to-date with the effects of tea. And use your common sense when drinking tea - drink moderate amounts, let your tea steep and cool slightly before you sip (good idea for any hot drink), and keep an eye on your daily caffeine intake to ensure this healthy, delicious drink doesn't lead to any negative tea effects.

And, as always, your healthcare provider is there if you have any questions or concerns about drinking tea or the side effects of tea.

More about Tea

What is Tea? - Learn more about the second most widely consumed beverage worldwide... tea! An introduction to and some basic facts about this beloved drink.

Camellia Sinensis - The simple tea plant - Camellia sinensis - gives us black, oolong, pu-erh, green, and white teas! Learn more about the tea plant - where it is grown, how tea is processed, and some of the health benefits this amazing plant can provide. 

Health Effects of Tea - Tea can provide so many wonderful benefits for good physical, mental, and emotional health... but there are a few potential side effects and risks associated with drinking tea, too!

Tea and Caffeine - Did you know that teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant contain caffeine? If you love black, oolong, pu-erh, green, or white tea, drop by to learn more about caffeine in tea.

Making Tea - Some tips and guidelines for making the perfect cup of tea, including an infographic with brewing and serving suggestions for teas and herbal tisanes.

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