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10 Signs You're Drinking Too Much Tea

Drinking too much coffee or sugary drinks can make you feel jittery. But drinking tea has its effects, too.
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Tea is often thought of as medicinal. Stomachache? Drink ginger tea. Insomnia? Drink chamomile tea. Sore throat? Drink black tea with a dollop of honey. With healing properties that can soothe most physical ailments and even curb your risk of chronic conditions—like cancer, inflammation, diabetes, and heart disease—in the long run, the benefits of tea have been harnessed for centuries.

But though we tend to think of tea as more healing than say, the energy-inducing caffeine or sugary drinks of the world, there is still something to be said for the timeless nutrition motto of "everything in moderation." Because surprisingly, even tea can cause side effects.

Especially if you're drinking too much of it.

Does this sound like you, tea aficionado? These 10 subtle signs might point toward a little too much tea time.

1

You're feeling stressed or restless.

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You might drink tea to actually combat feelings of stress, anxiety, or restlessness, but if you've been sipping on too much lately, you might notice an increase in these feelings.

While we may think of tea as more of a nightcap than coffee, tea still naturally contains caffeine. As such, just like with an overindulgence of coffee, drinking too much tea could exacerbate feelings of anxiety, restlessness, or stress.

So, how much tea is too much tea to avoid adding to your stress? It's less about cups and more about how much caffeine is in your tea. So long as you cap your caffeine at under 200 milligrams per day—which, depending on the tea, should be no more than three cups—your anxiety levels should be evened out.

2

You're not sleeping well.

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While it's true that some teas are formulated for easy, restful sleep, others—like black teas, for example—usually contain more caffeine than others.

Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine up to six or more hours before bedtime could have a negative impact on your sleep quality because of the way caffeine inhibits melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Of course, it depends on the person, metabolism, and how much caffeine you're consuming from other sources as well.

Tea might not be the only source to blame. If you're drinking more than three cups of tea per day and still getting adequate sources of caffeine elsewhere, there's more of a chance your sleep will be impacted.

If you're going to drink as many as three cups of tea per day, you'll want to make sure that's your only caffeine source for the day. Otherwise, you might find yourself tossing and turning.

3

You're experiencing heartburn.

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If you experience heartburn each time you slake your thirst with tea, your morning cup might be exacerbating pre-existing acid reflux. But even if you don't have acid reflux, the caffeine in tea can cause heartburn symptoms by relaxing the sphincter that blocks the esophagus off from the stomach.

With the sphincter relaxed, acids from the stomach can flow back up into the esophagus, causing those hot, acidic feelings associated with heartburn.

If you notice a direct correlation between tea consumption and heartburn, you may want to reduce your intake.

There are plenty of upsides to being a tea drinker, though. Learn how to harness the power of tea to lose weight!

4

You have frequent stomachaches.

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Your mom may have told you that ginger tea can help reduce the symptoms of a stomachache and nausea, and if so, she was right. But that's more of a testament to ginger than the tea itself. In fact, on the other end of the spectrum, too much tea can also cause stomachaches and nausea.

Tea leaves contain tannins, which provide that dry taste associated with tea. Tannins are bitter and astringent compounds and too much of them can wreak havoc on your belly. (More specifically, the tissues in your digestive tract.)

If you develop a stomachache after drinking tea, you may want to munch on some toast or cheese. Tannins bind to proteins and carbs, so eating along with your tea might help alleviate nausea or stomachache symptoms.

5

You're experiencing dizziness.

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Unless you're drinking a whole lot of caffeine, you should not experience dizziness right after having a cup or two of tea. But, too much caffeine consumption—whether it's from tea or coffee—could definitely cause you to feel lightheaded and dizzy.

Typically, people only report this symptom if they have exceeded six cups of caffeine. If you keep your tea drinking down to no more than three cups a day, dizziness shouldn't be a problem for you.

6

You have frequent headaches.

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As with most symptoms, caffeine can either help or hurt you. While some tea—peppermint, for example—can help alleviate the pain associated with headaches or migraines, too much tea consumption can also unfortunately cause headaches.

If you are experiencing frequent headaches, try reducing your caffeine consumption to less than 100 milligrams per day, as frequent tea-drinking can cause recurring headaches.

7

You're feeling dependent on caffeine.

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Love how caffeine makes you feel? Most of us do, but if you start feeling absolutely dependent on caffeine, it might be a subtle sign that you are drinking too much tea, too often and too regularly.

Caffeine—from either tea or coffee—is great in the short-term, but regular indulgence can cause caffeine dependence, which is punctuated by frustrating symptoms of withdrawal. As mentioned above, someone experiencing caffeine withdrawal might deal with headaches, fatigue, and general irritability.

To avoid falling victim to caffeine dependence or caffeine withdrawal, you may want to break up your tea drinking schedule to allow your body some breaks. After all, the longer you regularly rely on caffeine, the harder it will be to break that dependency. In fact, the symptoms might even get worse the stronger the dependency.

8

You have an iron deficiency.

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In addition to the tannins in tea binding to carbs and protein, tannins also bind to iron. But it's not necessarily a good thing, especially if you already have an iron deficiency. When tannins bind to iron in your body, they keep that iron from making its way to your digestive tract, where your body would normally absorb the iron. This can lead to an iron deficiency, or exacerbate an already existing one.

According to research, the tannins in tea are more likely to bind to plant-based iron, so vegetarians and vegans are more likely to wind up with an iron deficiency, especially if consuming too much tea.

If you follow a veggie or vegan diet, you may want to lower your tea consumption.

9

You're urinating a lot.

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Like, a lot. As with any beverage, liquids make you urinate, but like coffee, tea is a diuretic, meaning that it causes you to pass more urine. 

If you're waking up in the middle of the night to pee, or if the amount of times you urinate throughout the day is inhibiting your lifestyle, it might be time to rethink just how many cups of tea you're drinking.

10

You're dehydrated.

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How could tea dehydrate you? You're still drinking liquids! Right? Because tea is a diuretic, it causes you to more frequently urinate and frequent urination, if not replenished with the frequent drinking of water, could result in dehydration. The caffeine in tea increases blood flow to your kidneys, which then sends a message to the kidneys to start flushing out more water.

Of course, it depends on the kind of tea you're drinking. Black tea is generally more caffeinated, and large quantities of green and/or oolong tea could also affect your hydration. But with herbal teas, which are generally decaffeinated, you're less likely to experience frequent urination or be susceptible to dehydration.

How much tea do you need to drink to become dehydrated? A lot. Research suggests that a person would have to drink more than 500 milligrams of tea—that's more than six cups—before experiencing the dehydration associated with frequent urination.

The bottom line? Keep to no more than three cups of tea per day and you'll be fine!

Stephanie Osmanski
Stephanie Osmanski is a freelance sustainability, health, and wellness writer. Read more
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