Posts Tagged ‘caffeine and green tea’

Green Tea Side Effects

Monday, April 11th, 2011

I recently read a fairly comprehensive article online regarding green tea side effects. It was well researched and fairly unbiased; however I did have some questions regarding the article. From my perspective, having lived for close to 30 years in countries where green tea and oolong tea were consumed in large quantities by a huge cross section of the population, I did have to question how factual the presentation was. While the person writing the article clearly stated that side effects were rarely seen and the benefits far outweigh the side effects a few may experience, the detail given to the side effects could cause some to reconsider adding this tea to their diet–which is, in my opinion, a shame as it really is a fantastic beverage that has actually physically bettered many people’s health and well being.

Green Tea Caffeine Levels

The first cited side effect was relating to the amount of caffeine in green tea. As is well documented, caffeine levels in green tea are low; much lower than in coffee or regular black tea, and much lower than what is found in many popular carbonated drinks. It is important to realize that while green tea does have some caffeine that should not be cited as a reason for people not to drink it. True, some people are very sensitive to caffeine and as such common sense should tell them not to drink anything that has caffeine in it, including cokes or cappuccinos.

Regarding green tea caffeine levels, there are some workarounds that would help you to continue enjoying the tea without experiencing any of the side-effects of the minimal amount of caffeine if you are sensitive to it. First of all, you will find that there is a great selection of decaffeinated green tea available. This will enable you to still enjoy the health benefits without having to suffer with any of the caffeine effects. Generally though, these teas are less beneficial to you health wise than regular green tea. But if the only way you can enjoy green tea is by drinking decaf green tea, then go ahead and do so.  Some great decaf green teas to try include Good Earth Organic Green Tea Decaffeinated(Mango, Peach, & Pineapple Flavor), 18 Count Tea Bags, 1.14-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6), or for those who like K-cups you can try Celestial Seasonings Decaffeinated Green Tea, K-cups For Keurig Brewers, 24-count, Boxes (Pack of 2) .

Photo By: A Girl With Tea

Another tip, which I have found very helpful, is that it is always the first cup that has the most caffeine content. Providing you are drinking good quality, loose leaf tea (which you should be if you are drinking green or wulong tea) you can simply pour a cup of just boiled water into your first pot of tea and allow it to sit for five to seven minutes.  Dump the first cup of tea and then pour hot water over the same leaves. This pot of tea will have significantly less caffeine in it. You may think that the first pot of tea is naturally the best, so why dump it out? Many people claim that is true, however routinely tea masters in Japan and China will always dump the first pot of tea out in any case before making a second pot which is served to guests? Why? There are several reasons, but one is that it cleans the leaves and removes any dust or debris that may have collected on the leaves. If it is good enough for tea masters and tea enthusiasts to simply wait and drink the second brewed pot of tea, it is good enough for me!

The second side effect of green tea discussed was that it can cause indigestion, bloating or nausea. It can cause an increase in the amount of stomach acid produced, as can many other substances. Again, common sense should kick in; if you have a sensitive stomach or problems with indigestion or ulcers you will need to be careful about everything you eat or drink, not just green tea. I found it difficult to grasp why this would be singled out as a side-effect of green tea, when in fact in this context it is like saying onions cause indigestion or that a side effect of eating dairy products include stomach problems. This, I felt, was a little like putting the cart before the donkey.

However, if you do suffer from indigestion or some other digestive disorder yet you still want to experience the benefits derived from drinking green tea you may want to experiment with some of the other natural Asian teas instead. For example oolong (or wulong as it is also called) has been found to be easier on the stomach for some people, especially the more aged varieties.

Another suggestion was to add milk and sugar to the tea. I find this suggestion distasteful–but again, I have spent more of my life in Asia than in Western countries where milk or cream is regularly added to black tea. Perhaps the better suggestion was to use less loose leaves when brewing the tea, making it half strength instead.

Photo By: Nathan Wong

Finally there were the regular warnings not to drink it while pregnant, not to give green tea to children and not to overdose on green tea extract tablets. I have seen many pregnant women drink a cup or two of green tea without any side-effects whatsoever. Perhaps in this instance the warning should be towards moderation rather than totally cutting it out from your diet. As far as children drinking green tea; in essence any caffeinated drink is harmful for children and as such I agree that children do not need to drink green tea. Nor do they need to drink carbonated drinks either! Yet, many still do. One good caution which is worth repeating was that many of the green tea energy drinks sold, which are often chosen by children as a healthy alternative to other carbonated drinks, are not really at all hea
lthy for them in spite of  what the label may suggest.