Is Tea Healthy? Caffeine v. Antioxidants

Is Tea Healthy? Caffeine v. Antioxidants
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.

Is tea healthy? I get that question a fair bit. People aren’t always sure if tea fits in to a healthy eating plan.

Since I love tea, I wanted to take a minute to expand on my simple answer of yes…


Caffeine is the first thing people think about when they wonder is tea healthy?

Well, yes, tea does have caffeine. And caffeine isn’t good in high doses. It’s actually a plant defense, a natural pesticide.

It’s also a stimulant for us – keeping us awake at night, and feeding addictions in some people.

That stimulant effect can actually be beneficial for athletes, if it’s in small doses.

Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it pulls water from your system. So tea often gets listed in things to avoid when you want to stay hydrated.

But I recently watched a video by Dr. Greger about the supposed dehydrating effect of caffeinated tea.

He shared results from a study done on people to compare the urine output of people drinking tea and other people drinking the same volume of water.

The conclusion was that overall, tea didn’t have a diuretic effect even though it has caffeine.

Although tea has more caffeine by weight than coffee when it’s dry, the amount transferred to the water that you drink is lower for tea.

Black tea has about half the caffeine of coffee. Green tea has about half the caffeine of black tea.

And herbal teas (ones made from flowers or plants other than the tea plant) don’t have any caffeine.

Chocolate has some caffeine, and a 1oz square of dark chocolate is on par with a cup of green tea.

So – tea has some caffeine, but in the big scheme of things it’s not that harmful if you don’t drink too much…


Tea has a ton of antioxidants, which get transferred to the water you drink. Coffee and chocolate have antioxidants, too.

There are more antioxidants in green tea than black, because green tea isn’t oxidized when it’s processed.

Lots of herbal teas have a huge amount of antioxidants, too, like honeybush and rooibos.

So overall, the antioxidants you get from tea help to offset the downside of caffeine.

You don’t need to drink gallons of tea, and if you drink different kinds you can get different antioxidants and lower levels of caffeine.

Teas With Purpose

Certain teas and herbs can help with certain issues. Obviously, black tea with its higher caffeine isn’t the greatest just before going to bed.

Chamomile is the typical soothing tea for bedtime, and catnip and hops flower are two others that are supposed to be good.

To help with high stress, and soothe the nerves, valerian root, schizandra and suma are some herbs you can look for.

For boosting your immune system, teas made with echinacea, ginger, astragulus or rose hips are said to be really good.

You’ll probably have to go to a herbal shop for those ones, but I went to an Asian Fusion restaurant in NY last month that had iced schizandra tea on the menu!

I was so excited, except when I went to order they were out… maybe next time.

I got these suggestions from an awesome book called Today’s Herbal Health, by Louise Tenney. One of my favorite nutrition-related books.

Do It Now

Is it hot where you are right now?

It’s a super hot day here today, so I’m making some iced tea with my fruity rose hips blend.

Try it out for yourself! Or drink a hot mug if that’s how you like it.

But feel free to sip on some tea, especially green and herbal ones. Much better than pop or flavored water!

Any questions? Do you drink tea?


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