A Tinge of Doubt: Can Tea Stain Your Tongue?

can tea stain your tongue

Have you begun to notice a discoloration of your tongue? Now, it is natural for you to imagine that the culprit may be your daily cup of tea. After all, tea stains your teeth, why wouldn’t it stain your teeth as well?

In case you have been trying to figure out can tea stain your tongue, then this is the post for you. Check out all the reasons that your tongue may have changed color and what you can do about this. 

Can Tea Cause Tongue Discoloration?


So, first things first, can tea cause your tongue to look stained? Well, the answer isn’t quite so straightforward. Tea, by itself, can’t stain your tongue. However, it can be a factor in why your tongue appears to be a different color.


So, to know if tea might be cause, check out the reasons for the following discolorations:

Can Tea Make Your Tongue White?

If you have found a white patch on your tongue, you may be wondering this means and if tea could be responsible. This is especially true if you tend to indulge in several cups of milky tea. If you are noticing a thick white film on your tongue, though, there is another medical condition at work here.


The condition is actually referred to as white tongue and it can be caused by a number of things. This includes yeast infections, bacterial infections, or an overgrowth of cells in your mouth. Therefore, tea isn’t directly responsible.


That being said, having a dry mouth can actually put you at higher risk of developing white tongue. And, the tannins in tea have a tendency to dry out your oral cavity. So, if you do notice that the dryness in your mouth is responsible for white tongue, cutting down on your tea consumption or increasing your water intake may help.


Treating White Tongue

Since it can be tricky to know what caused your white tongue, it is important to visit a doctor. They will be able to pinpoint whether an infection or fungus is the root cause. Keep in mind that such problems are unlikely to go away on their own. As such, you will probably require medication to get rid of white tongue.

Woman with wide open mouth

Can Tea Make Your Tongue Black?

So, what if you notice a dark brown or black stain on your tongue, much like the color of tea? Surely this means that your favorite beverage is responsible, right? Well, not exactly. Once again, this particular issue is a medical condition known as black tongue.


See, the surface of your tongue is covered in small bumps that are known as papillae. In some cases, dead skin cells can begin to collect on the tip of the papillae, making them look longer. In turn, various substances can accumulate on the papillae causing it to change color.


Now, this condition can be caused by low saliva production, poor oral hygiene, or medications. The actual staining of the dead cells may be a result of your tea drinking habits though.

Can Tea Make Your Tongue Yellow?

If you notice a yellow-like brown tinge on your tongue, tea isn’t really to blame here either. A yellow tongue is a precursor to black tongue. Essentially, the papillae are becoming more and more stained. Eventually, they will turn black.


In this instance, the more tea that you drink, the more likely it is that you will be staining the dead cells at a faster rate. If you treat the black tongue problem directly, though, then you will be able to prevent this from happening.


Treating Black Tongue

The good news is that black tongue isn’t anything to worry about. In fact, lifestyle changes can often help to get rid of the problem in a few weeks. For instance, brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper can help to remove the buildup of the dead skin cells.


Apart from this, following a healthy diet and maintaining a good oral health regimen can help to clear the issue and prevent it from coming back. If the black tongue does concern you, though, it is a good idea to visit your healthcare provider.

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Can Tea Affect Your Tongue?


It is unusual for tea to have any kind of impact on your tongue. At most, you can expect a burned tongue from drinking too-hot tea. Apart from this, though, tea shouldn’t affect your tongue in any way.


Still, you should keep in mind that tea can cause your stained tongue to look worse if you have another oral health issue. So, you may want to reduce your tea intake until the issue has been addressed and has cleared up.

Lady drinking tea near the window

What Does an Unhealthy Tongue Look Like?


Now, remember, the above discolorations aren’t the only things that you need to watch out for. It is important to be aware of what an unhealthy tongue looks like. Spotting the symptoms early on can help to prevent the problem from becoming worse. It can also save you a great deal of discomfort too.


On this note, what does an unhealthy tongue look like? In short, an unhealthy tongue is when you notice any kind of deviation from your tongue’s natural color and surface texture. This means that if you notice any spots or patches of discoloration appearing, you need to get it checked out.


At the same time, pay attention to the surface of your tongue. If any lumps, bumps, or similar features begin showing up, head to your doctor. If you do experience any kind of pain on your tongue, especially when eating or drinking, it is something that you should attend to.

As you can see, tea doesn’t actually stain your tongue. Still, it can worsen certain tongue issues, causing your tongue to appear even more discolored.

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Dheena Sadik

Dr. Dheena Sadik

Consultant Nutritionist and Dietician

Author Bio

Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. However, her love for tea began long before she understood the health benefits of tea. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Dheena had the privilege of being surrounded by the world-famous Ceylon tea. This is what got her started on her exploration of the various types of tea. She has now extensively tasted and examined teas from all over the world.

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