How much tea should I drink?

Pouring Chinese tea

How much tea a day, keeps the doctors away?

About 500ml - 600ml.

Being a health-conscious tea lover, I would sometimes wonder, is drinking too much tea cause harm to my body? There’s an old Chinese saying, “Sometimes enough is enough, too much water drowns the miller”.

A fellow tea enthusiast once asked me:

“Is it a problem if I replace water with tea and only drink tea every day?”

Well, yes - this would cause a problem.

It is healthy to have a regularly tea-drinking habit, but if you only hydrate your body with tea, this is not good. Another misconception that a lot of people have is that we should drink as much tea as we can because drinking tea is healthy.

Along with these misconceptions, comes a range of serious health issues.
Why do we have to drink tea daily? What nutrition or substance does our body consume the most when we drink tea? Is it tea polyphenol? Is it caffeine or theanine?

Actually, the correct answer is H2O, Water!

Our body loses a huge amount of fluids every day, we dehydrate when we sweat, when we go to the bathroom etc. Most adults need to rehydrate their bodies with 1.6L to 2.5L of water on a daily basis. After vigorous exercise or excessive sweating, we have to drink even more water to replace the lost fluids. Drinking tea not only rehydrates the human body but also replenishes minerals and nutrients our body craves.

Then, what is the relationship between the amount of water and tea we drink?

Let's do some calculations:

Let’s assume that the human body needs 2500ml of fluids each day
600ml of the required fluids is from the food we eat,
300ml of fluids is generated because of our daily metabolism,
Therefore, the amount of fluid we need in order to rehydrate is:
2500ml - 600ml - 300ml = 1600ml.

In other words, the amount of tea that we should drink is within the 1600ml of fluid that our body needs. Even though drinking tea does give you a healthy body, you shouldn’t rehydrate the required 1600ml of fluids with tea only. Drinking water regularly, as most of us know, is the key to rehydrating.

So how much tea do we have to drink to rehydrate healthily?

The answer, as a matter of fact, varies due to factors such as drinking habits, age, health conditions, lifestyles etc.

We recommend average adults to drink a total of 6-8 grams of tea a day. Let’s assume that every time we make tea we use 200ml of water, in total we make tea 3 times daily, this results in an optimum daily tea consumption level of around 600ml. If you replace tea with water and only drink tea, the daily tea consumption level would be much higher than 600ml.

For people who do labour intensive jobs or work in high heat environments, 10 grams of tea per day is good. For children, expectant mothers or people with heart illnesses, the daily dosage of tea should be decreased accordingly.

What happens if you accidentally drink too much?

1. Insomnia

You might get trouble sleeping because of a substance contained in your tea called caffeine. Caffeine is a double-edged sword, it keeps you refreshed and energized, but when you’re trying to sleep this could be a nuisance. Therefore, if you want to drink, try to drink before 6 pm, and avoid drinking strong teas such as puerh tea - lighter teas contain lesser amounts of caffeine, such as white teas and green tea.

2. Getting “Tea Drunk”

This is also a problem caused by caffeine. When our body drinks tea that is too strong or tea that contains a relatively higher amount of caffeine such as black tea and puerh tea, the circulation of our blood increases, we feel gastrointestinal discomfort, we feel dizzy and nauseous; the symptoms are similar to getting drunk with alcohol, therefore in Chinese’s term this is referred to as getting “tea drunk”.

Some people get “tea drunk” easily when they drink tea while their blood sugar level is low. Some people don’t get “tea drunk” even if they drink strong tea or large amounts of tea while having a normal blood sugar level. So it all varies according to the condition of your body. Like wine, it is easy to get “tea drunk” if you drink large amounts of strong tea continuously.

The quickest antidote for “tea drunk” is sugar (for people who enjoy wine, you might have heard of this solution too) simply because consuming sugar helps relieve low blood sugar. Candies, fruits or desserts all contain sugar, so feel free to reward yourself with a treat next time if you accidentally get “tea drunk”!

In conclusion, try to rehydrate yourself with 1.6L to 2.5L of fluid daily, containing around 600ml of tea. Average adults should not exceed their daily tea limit of 12 grams, this helps prevent conditions such as insomnia and being “tea drunk”.

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