The UK is well-known as a nation of tea-lovers. There are so many types of tea to choose from traditional English breakfast tea, flavoured tea, green tea and black tea being the most often consumed.
One type of tea that has grown in popularity is decaffeinated tea, and we wanted to discover more about decaf – particularly to find out if it is a diuretic and if making the switch to decaf is less dehydrating than caffeinated tea.
What is decaf tea?
Decaffeinated tea is simply caffeinated tea that’s been through a process to remove the caffeine.
Whilst it is classed as decaf, there is actually a very small amount of caffeine that remains (2mg of caffeine per 200ml cup on average) but it’s significantly less than caffeinated tea which roughly contains 50mg per 200ml cup. Discover more about the health benefits of decaf tea in our previous article – ‘Is decaf tea healthy?’.
A cup of caffeinated tea or coffee can give you a quick pick me up and make you feel more alert. But caffeine does more than just keep you awake. It’s a stimulant that affects the body in many ways. Tea, when consumed as part of a balanced diet is fine, but it’s worth noting that all caffeinated drinks can make the body produce urine more quickly.
Some of us are more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine and making the switch to a decaf option could be helpful if drinking tea acts a diuretic for you.
An overview of diuretics – and how they work
Diuretics are found in some of the food and drink we consume. They can also be medically prescribed to increase the amount of urine your body produces to help rid the body of excess fluid and salt.
Often people with kidney disease or high blood pressure take a diuretic to help manage their condition.
Diuretics work by stopping fluid and salt from re-entering into your bloodstream, therefore increasing the amount of urine your body produces. By reducing the amount of water and salts in your bloodstream it can lower your blood pressure and put less strain on your heart.
Caffeine has a diuretic effect on the body. Caffeine is commonly found in tea, coffee, fizzy drinks such as Coca-Cola and many popular energy drinks including Red Bull or Monster.
Another common diuretic is alcohol, which like other diuretics, works on the kidneys to make you urinate more.
Professor Oliver James, Head of Clinical Medical Sciences at Newcastle University has discovered that for every 1g of alcohol drunk, urine emissions increase by 10ml. Of course, we need not remind you that alcohol is something that should be enjoyed in moderation as it has many other damaging effects on health.
Is regular tea a diuretic?
Regular tea contains caffeine which has a diuretic effect but studies have shown that consuming two or three cups of caffeinated tea a day should have no diuretic effects on a healthy adult who regularly drinks tea.
If your body has not been exposed to caffeine for a few days, then regular tea can have a mild diuretic effect.
Is decaf tea a diuretic? Can it dehydrate you?
Liquids keep our body functioning healthily, and any waste liquids will be evacuated during urination. It’s a natural process. But decaf tea contains such minuscule amounts of caffeine that it does not cause any additional diuretic effect than drinking water would. In summary, decaf tea won’t dehydrate you.
Decaf black tea and green tea
The same applies to all type of decaf tea including black and green tea. They will not have a dehydrating effect but it is worth noting that green tea provides more health benefits than black tea as it undergoes less processes making it higher in flavonoids, which provide powerful antioxidants.
Is decaf tea hydrating?
Yes, it is. Tea (decaf or regular) counts towards your recommended daily fluid intake of at least two litres. It also makes a flavoursome alternative to water, especially if you like a hot drink in the morning.
Can you get dehydrated from drinking more than five cups of decaf tea a day?
No. Tea and other caffeinated beverages have often been believed to lead to dehydration as they may have a diuretic effect if consumed in large quantities.
Whilst caffeine could dehydrate you if you consume 500mg or more per day (approximately eight cups), switching to decaf will hydrate rather than dehydrate you.
How much decaf tea is too much?
Any food or drink can be damaging if consumed in excess. However, to drink more than the 500mg required to have a dehydrating effect, you’d need to have an incredible 250 cups of decaf tea in a single day. Obviously, this isn’t a possibility, so you can enjoy your decaf tea without feeling dehydrated.
Is decaf tea a diuretic? If you are consuming less than three or four cups a day then we believe not. If you want to cut down on your caffeine but still want to enjoy a cup of tea, then decaf is a great option.
Kerry Garner has an interest in health and nutrition and is always on the look-out for new, healthy and exciting snacks for her son’s packed lunch to ensure he gets a balanced diet that’s not boring. She is a keen home-cook and loves nothing more than experimenting in the kitchen and inventing nutritious, yet tasty meals for her family to enjoy.