The Caffeine Conundrum
For a while, popular opinion held that beverages like coffee and tea were dehydrating due to their caffeine content. It is true that caffeine is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more frequently, causing you to lose some water content from your body. However, more recent studies have shown that in a plain cup of tea, the ratio of water to caffeine still results in a net gain of water for your body.
In short, there’s not so much caffeine in tea that it doesn’t hydrate you at all. A cup of water may give you more hydration overall, but tea still offers some hydration. If you’re really thirsty, it’s better to drink a cup of tea than nothing at all.
What About Cream and Sugar?
There is another element that may decrease the hydrating benefits, however. Does tea dehydrate you if you add sugar or cream? Sugar also serves as a diuretic. So, while it will still provide a bit of hydration, tea with sugar is less hydrating than plain tea. If you can’t seem to get the taste you like without sweetener, try some of these suggestions on making tea taste good without sugar.
On the other hand, the addition of cream may increase hydration. Some studies of athletes’ post-workout recovery strategies have seemed to indicate that milk aids in hydration due to its sodium content.
So far, we’ve mostly taken into account true tea -- teas that come from the camellia sinensis plant, all of which contain some caffeine. These include green teas, white teas, black teas, yellow teas, oolongs, and pu’erh. However, there is a wide range of herbal blends that are referred to as “teas” but do not come from the same source at all. Aside from a few exceptions, such as maté and guayusa, most herbal teas, or tisanes, do not contain any caffeine. This means that these herbal teas are even more hydrating than caffeinated true teas.
In fact, there are even some herbal teas that provide extra benefits to your entire system. Hibiscus, for example, is a hydrating flower popular in many herbal teas. It is packed with antioxidants and has been known to benefit the kidneys and urinary tract by pulling excess salt from the body. Rose and chamomile are also popular floral tea ingredients that aid in hydration.
To conclude: Does tea dehydrate you? Recent studies seem to show that it does not. Some teas hydrate better than others, though. Next time you’re feeling dehydrated, consider reaching for some herbal tea, such as our chamomile and lavender tea with rose for a double dose of floral refreshment. You can even make a simple, tart, and tasty infusion with our Just Hibiscus organic hibiscus herbal tea. Whether you drink tea constantly or switch it out with other drinks, be sure to pay attention to your fluid intake, and keep your body running smoothly!
The Nutrition Professor