The easiest first step to healthy living is staying hydrated throughout the day. If you’re not drinking 9-13 cups of water a day, you should probably up your fluid intake. The good news is it doesn’t necessarily have to be only water.
Despite the rumors surrounding tea, it actually contributes to your daily fluid needs. And if you take it without sugar or cream, it becomes a healthy way to consume more fluids, with some additional health benefits that tea provides.
Tea also contains caffeine, which is known for its dehydrating properties. That’s where the myth and confusion come from. In this article, we’ll reveal the hydrating and dehydrating effects of different types of tea.
What Affects Your Hydration?
When you drink enough fluids, your body maintains the proper temperature and cushions your joints properly. It also helps to deliver nutrients to cells, maintain proper organ function, and ensure stable cognitive function and mood.
However, one of the difficulties with staying hydrated is that not all fluids are equal. Water is the obvious hydrator, but does your morning cup of tea count too? The answer is, yes it does. But let’s take a look deeper into what affects your hydration.
Most people believe that drinking coffee and tea dehydrates your body because of the caffeine content. While caffeine is a diuretic, it doesn’t dehydrate your body overall. A 2014 study shows that the caffeine in your drinks isn’t diuretic until you consume 500 mg per day, which is more than the recommended dose anyway.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant and amongst the world’s most popular beverage ingredients. As soon as you consume caffeine, it passes from the intestines into the bloodstream and from there into the liver. Here the caffeine is broken down into various compounds that affect your body.
Caffeine has a stimulating effect on your brain and can improve your concentration and alertness. On the other hand, it has a mild diuretic effect on your kidneys and stimulates them to flush out more water.
Despite that, the answer to the question “does tea dehydrate you” is – no. That’s because one cup of tea doesn’t contain enough caffeine to dehydrate you. Even though you’re consuming caffeine when drinking tea, you take enough water to counteract the diuretic effects.
So if you’re thirsty, it’s better to consume a cup of tea than nothing at all.
Water is the most crucial chemical compound in your body, making up to 70% of your body weight. Every tissue, cell, and organ in your body needs sufficient water to function properly. It regulates your temperature, protects your delicate tissues, and cushions your joints.
Unfortunately, many of us don’t consume enough water, especially adults. As you get older, you don’t feel the thirst as much as you did when you were younger. Many of us may even confuse thirst and hunger, and we start seeking food when in fact we’re simply thirsty.
Drinking tea may be a great, tasty alternative to plain water.
How Much Water Do You Need to Stay Hydrated?
One of the difficulties with hydration is that you don’t know how much water is enough for your body. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conducted a study in 2004 and looked at how much plain water is needed to keep the body hydrated.
The committee recommends that women consume up to 2.7 liters of fluid daily to stay healthy. Men, on the other hand, should consume up to 3.7 liters per day. Of this, 20% should be taken in through food and the rest through drinking.
In simpler terms, women should drink about 9 cups of fluid per day. Men, on the other hand, should consume about 13 cups of fluid per day. That means you can drink about 3 cups of tea every day to replenish your body’s hydration status.
Your tea contains water, and caffeine, and may contain additives like sugar or cream. Just like caffeine, sugar is naturally a diuretic. Tea with sugar is still hydrating but comparatively less so than regular calorie-free tea.
If you can’t get the flavor you want without sweetener, try alternatives like honey, licorice root, or a slice of lemon. However, the best way to ensure that your tea tastes good is to get yourself high-quality loose-leaf tea.
On the other hand, adding cream to your tea makes it even more hydrating. The electrolyte content of milk helps hydrate you. A 2007 study found low-fat milk can rehydrate the body after mild sports-related dehydration.
Will Drinking Tea Dehydrate You?
Contrary to rumors you may have heard, teas with or without caffeine are unlikely to dehydrate you. In fact, tea can be as hydrating as water, and if it’s iced tea – a lot more refreshing.
Does Caffeine Dehydrate Your Body?
Like other drinks, different types of tea contain varying amounts of caffeine. Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. When this substance reaches your liver, the caffeine is broken down into different components. These components affect the function of various organs in your body.
If you consume high doses of tea, caffeine can have a diuretic effect on your kidneys. Diuretics are compounds that cause your body to produce more urine than usual. When you drink high doses of caffeine, the blood flow to your kidneys increases, so they can eliminate more water through urine.
By boosting your urination, caffeine can affect your body’s fluid balance. However, this is very unlikely. To have a significant diuretic effect on your kidneys, you need to drink more than 13 cups of tea per day. So, if you drink tea in moderate amounts, it will actually help you improve your daily fluid intake.
Different Teas Affect Hydration Differently
When it comes to teas, there are so many to choose from while you’re filling your cup. Depending on the variety, each tea contains a different amount of caffeine. The more caffeine a tea contains, the less hydrating it is.
The brewing time of the tea also affects the amount of caffeine in your cup. The longer you brew your tea, the more caffeine will be in your cup. Here are the top tea varieties and how their effects on your hydration levels.
Black tea is among the true teas made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. Compared to green or most herbal teas, it contains the highest amount of caffeine. An 8 oz cup of tea contains about 47 milligrams of caffeine. This means that you can easily drink up to 3 cups of black tea a day and keep yourself hydrated.
Aside from hydration, black tea has a whole host of health benefits and can help you lower the risk of a heart stroke, boost your immune system, and regulate your blood pressure.
Green tea is another type of true tea that is also made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. It is less processed than black tea. Therefore, they have a comparatively low caffeine level. It naturally contains about half the caffeine per cup compared to black tea.
An 8 oz cup of green tea contains about 28 milligrams of caffeine. This means you can easily drink up to 5 cups of green tea and keep yourself hydrated. Green tea is therefore slightly more hydrating than a cup of black tea.
Unlike true teas, herbal teas are made from dried flowers, seeds, or roots of other plants. These teas include peppermint, rosehip, and chamomile. Since they don’t contain leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, they’re technically considered herbal infusions instead of teas.
Because herbal teas are caffeine-free, they’re unlikely to have a dehydrating effect on your body. According to the USDA, a cup of herbal tea is the same as a cup of water in terms of hydration. Aside from hydration, these flowery teas also contain many antioxidants and are known to support your kidneys.
Decaffeinated teas are made from tea leaves that have had most of their caffeine content removed through a process. These tea leaves contain less than 2 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce cup. You can usually get decaffeinated black, green, or white tea. However, you should always remember that they are not absolutely caffeine-free like herbal teas.
Since decaffeinated tea contains a meager amount of caffeine, it is good for keeping yourself hydrated. However, decaffeinated tea leaves may also lose their antioxidants and some of the health benefits that tea leaves provide.
So, Should You Drink Tea to Stay Hydrated?
Although caffeinated drinks like green, black, or decaf tea aren’t as effective for hydration as water or herbal teas, they do replenish your body fluids. Contrary to popular belief, drinking 3 to 4 cups of tea daily hydrates your body.
Teas are a great alternative to water. Aside from hydration, these teas also offer a whole host of health benefits. The tea leaves are full of antioxidants known as flavonoids. These antioxidants boost your immune system, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve your concentration, and have a positive effect on your skin.
If you’re looking to get yourself this tasty alternative to water, look no further than Viston Tea. At Viston, we offer you a selection of high-quality loose-leaf teas from Japan, Sri Lanka, India, and China. They’re selected to be perfect for beginners and will be a great first step on your tea journey.
After you do that, read how to make it correctly to get the best-tasting tea.
Let me know in the comments – how many cups of tea do you drink in a day?
PS. We’ve recently been featured on FeedSpot list of 100 best tea blogs 🚀