Does Tea Dehydrate You? – Tea and Water Compared
Tea like Earl Grey is black, caffeinated tea leaves flavored with bergamot. There are lots of rumors about the effect of caffeine on the body. Earl Grey is a classic brew, but we’re asking the question, does tea dehydrate you? We look into the science to find out how tea is affecting your hydration status.
Your classic cup of tea
Let’s talk about that British classic, Earl Grey tea. For many of us around the world, tea makes up a big part of our daily fluid intake. Worldwide, tea is our favorite drink, second only to water . There are countless types of tea you can drink, but if you are partial to a more sophisticated blend you can’t go wrong with Earl Grey.
Earl Grey is slightly different from a standard brew. Its black tea leaves are combined with the rind and/or oil of a Sicillian citrus fruit called bergamot . Sometimes there are also notes of lavender, vanilla, or lemon in this well-loved blend. What’s important to note is that Earl Grey is primarily made up of black tea leaves, and these contain caffeine.
It’s not unusual to have several cups of tea in a day, but what effect does it have on hydration? Let’s find out.
What about the caffeine?
Here comes the clincher. A cup of Earl Grey can have anywhere from 14mg to 61mg of caffeine in it, depending on how the leaves were processed and how it’s brewed. For comparison, a cup of coffee has 95mg to 200mg of caffeine per cup, and a cup of green tea has 24mg to 40mg . While we aren’t talking about massive amounts of caffeine, as many of us know from drinking coffee, it doesn’t take much to have a big effect on your body!
There seem to be mixed opinions in the scientific community on whether caffeine actually dehydrates you. Caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, increasing blood flow to the kidneys and stimulating increased urine production. The question is whether this effect is strong enough to cause dehydration. The current general consensus is that it is not .
It’s safe to say that consuming caffeine in reasonable amounts isn’t a huge problem in terms of your hydration level, and drinking caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and sodas will contribute toward your daily fluid intake. However, it is important to remember that tea with caffeine isn’t as good at hydrating as water. The more caffeine in the drink, the more extra fluid we recommend consuming.
Can you hydrate on tea alone?
The real question for tea lovers is how much tea do you need to drink in a day in order to properly hydrate? Well, authorities often recommend the 8x8 rule: eight glasses of water each day, each containing 8 ounces . This number will need to go up, of course, if you are losing extra fluids, such as by sweating heavily.
Drinking eight 8-ounce cups of tea in a day theoretically gives you the 8x8 you need for that day. However, it is important to remember that your environment will have an influence on how much you need to drink. Good hydration happens when you are replacing all the fluids your body is losing, at a similar rate. You will lose more fluids if you are exercising, are in hot conditions, have been drinking alcohol or take medications with a diuretic effect. Make sure you are adjusting how much you drink according to the conditions and environment your body is in.
Generally, drinking tea won’t be a problem. It’s not as highly caffeinated as coffee, and is generally served in cups of 8-ounces or more, so it’s not presenting the same challenge to your body as an espresso (low water content, high caffeine content!).
You probably could hydrate on tea alone if you wanted to. However, as we’ve explained, it is worth keeping in mind that the effect of caffeine in these quantities is up for debate. You probably want to increase your fluid consumption to above the 8x8 rule, just to allow for any small dehydrating effect the tea has (and the more tea you drink, the greater this effect will be!).
So, does tea dehydrate you?
It looks like the answer is no. However, as with any caffeinated drink, it won’t be as good at hydrating you as water, so make sure you have some extra fluids if you’re a tea drinker, just to keep your hydration levels in tip top shape! And if in doubt, grab a decaffeinated tea (yes, this is available. We’re excited too!).
Did you know?
Interestingly, this is a field that scientists are constantly researching. For example, a report in 2004 looked at the effect of rest and exercise on urine output in participants who had and hadn’t had caffeine. They found that although caffeine usually leads to an increased urine output, this doesn’t happen in exercise—it seems like exercise might over-rule the dehydrating effect of caffeine .
Don’t take it as gospel until there’s further research, but this paper reminds us that our bodies are insanely clever, and take the conditions around us into account. Your job is to give your body the tools to function at its best, and good hydration is one of them. Read about how to recognize the signs of dehydration so you can learn what your body is telling you. And if in doubt, grab a glass of water, and maybe even add a splash of Hydrant! Hydrant has the right balance of electrolytes to ensure optimal hydration.
Are you concerned about your own hydration levels? Take the quiz below to find the best Hydrant for your hydration routine.
 World Tea News - Tea Consumption Second Only to Packaged Water. Dan Bolton. May 18. - This article is full of statistics, all referenced back to their sources, which helps build confidence in their validity.
 Twinings - Earl Grey - Twinings is a renowned tea brand with a great reputation, so we can trust them to provide solid information on all things tea.
 Teatulia - What is Earl Grey? - This article is jam packed with everything you want to know about Earl Grey tea, and some stuff you didn’t want to know.
 Mayo Clinic - I've been seeing ads that say caffeinated drinks hydrate you as well as water does. Is this true? Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. - This is a short answer from one of the writers linked to the Mayo Clinic. This isn’t as reliable as say, a scientific paper with properly referenced research, however, it’s a good place to start.
 Healthline - How much water should you drink per day? - Healthline writes articles on all sorts of health topics, and this one covers plenty of information regarding how much to drink each day.
 Zhang, Y., Coca, A., Casa, D. J., Antonio, J., Green, J. M., & Bishop, P. A. (2015). Caffeine and diuresis during rest and exercise: A meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 18(5), 569-574. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2014.07.017 - This is the report of the scientific research looking into the effects of caffeine and exercise combined on urine output. It’s a well written paper, so why not give it a go!