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Does Tea Give You Heartburn? Exposing a Fiery Issue

August 4, 2021

Unfortunately, tea can give some people heartburn, although this is not a side effect that everyone has to contend with.

There are many instances where I have gotten hurried phone calls from my clients, desperately asking, “does tea give you heartburn?” A lot of people readily indulge in tea because it is low calorie and has numerous health benefits. However, not everyone is aware that tea may not always agree with you. Thus, my clients are surprised by the fact that their daily brew is giving them digestive issues.

In this post, I break down all the information for you. This includes why tea causes heartburn, who is at risk, and what you should do if you aren’t ready to give up your brew just yet.

Here is what you need to know:

man experiencing hearburn

The Relationship Between Heartburn, Acid Reflux, and GERD

Before I go any further, I want to clear up a few medical terms. This will help you to understand the link between tea and heartburn a little better. In particular, I would like to talk about the link between heartburn, acid reflux, and GERD.

First, let me explain what heartburn is exactly. When digestion occurs normally, a band of muscle at the lower portion of your esophagus relaxes to allow food and drink pass through. Then, the muscle tightens so that the food, drink, or stomach acid can’t move in an opposite direction.

If this muscle is weak for some reason or is temporarily relaxed, then stomach acid moves up your esophagus. This is known as acid reflux or gastroesophageal influx (GER). Thus, acid reflux causes heartburn.

GERD or gastroesphageal reflux disease occurs when the heartburn occurs on a more frequent and consistent basis. This may be accompanied by other digestive issues as well as chest pain.

Can Drinking Too Much Tea Cause Heartburn?

Now, as mentioned, tea isn’t an issue for everyone. A lot of people can drink tea and not experience any kind of heartburn. And, this is precisely what the research indicates as well.

In a meta-analysis, it was found that tea didn’t have a negative impact on most populations. For instance, in Middle Asia, tea appeared to reduce the risk of GERD within those countries.

However, East Asian populations were disproportionately negatively affected by tea. Here, it was discovered that drinking tea frequently raised the risk of GERD. This could mean that someone people do have a genetic disposition for heartburn that can be triggered by tea.

This means that you have to consider each case carefully. Do you notice that your heartburn makes an appearance shortly after drinking tea? If so, try cutting it out of your diet for a little while or just reduce your intake.

If you notice that the symptoms reduce, then there is a good chance that the tea is causing your heartburn. Otherwise, it is some other element of your diet or lifestyle that is the trigger. 

black tea leaves and cups

Is Black Tea Good for Acid Reflux?

Now that you are aware that acid reflux and heartburn are linked, you may be wondering how to soothe it. In particular, you may be trying to figure out if black tea is a good remedy. After all, this brew can be used to ease other digestive issues.

Well, black tea may not be the best candidate here. This is because it can be mildly acidic. As a result, the tea can worsen the issues that you associate with acid reflux. In turn, this can make your heartburn worse.

Once again, though, this isn’t necessarily true for everyone. Due to this, it is all about the process of elimination. Examine how you feel after drinking tea. If you aren’t suffering from any side effects, you can proceed as normal. Otherwise, it is best to cut down on your consumption. 

How to Avoid Heartburn with Tea

Let’s be honest, if you are like most people, then you aren’t going to want to give up your daily cup of tea. In this case, how can you enjoy your favorite beverage without succumbing to the side effects?

Once again, it is all about moderation. If tea does seem to be triggering your heartburn, then you do need to cut down on how much you drink. You can do this gradually to identify just how much you can drink without experiencing any acid reflux.

Another option is to dilute your tea. Trying making your cup of tea at half-strength. With fewer tea components in the drink, you will be less likely to have any adverse effects. Some people find that adding milk to their tea can help their stomach to produce less acid.

Or, you can try making the switch to herbal teas as there are fewer side effects associated with these. Teas such as peppermint and ginger are known for their stomach calming effects as well. So, if other foods are triggering your heartburn, then these herbal teas may be able to ease your discomfort.

You should watch out for fruit-based teas, though, as they can be quite acidic and increase the risk of heartburn. In general, it is a good idea to consider just how acidic a brew is before adding to your diet.

If you continue to experience heartburn even though you are cutting tea and other triggering foods out of your diet, it is important to go see your doctor. It is possible that there is another medical issue and you should get it checked out as soon as possible to prevent the problem from worsening.

To wrap things up, tea can give you heartburn, but there is no guarantee. It appears that only some people may struggle with tea-related acid reflux issues. Therefore, there is a good chance that you can continue to enjoy your brew as you always have.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, make sure to check out our Pinterest page. We have tons of other posts on the impact of tea on the digestive system and issues. There is a lot more for you to learn!

About the Author
Dr. Dheena Sadik
Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry.
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