The different types of tea
Pour some hot water on dried leaves, wait for a few minutes and you have your cup of tea. People have been using this simple process and drinking tea for thousands of years.
During these years people found out many ways to make different types of teas. These are the most common ones:
- black tea
- green tea
- white tea
- oolong tea
- herbal tea
- rooibos tea
Even these types have many varieties.
Tea leaves can be processed in multiple ways, like with or without fermentation and oxidation.
As you can see, there is a wide variety of tea types to choose from, and each can affect our bodies differently.
Can tea cause chest pain?
Because there is a wide variety of tea types and our bodies react differently to the same foods and drinks, there is no definitive yes or no answer to this question.
There are a few different ways tea can cause chest pain:
- Drinking very hot tea can damage the lining of the esophagus, which translates as chest pain or discomfort around the middle of the chest, under the breastbone.
- Drinking excessive amounts of teas that contain caffeine might cause heart problems, like irregular heartbeat, chest pain, or angina.
- Acidic or caffeinated teas might cause acid reflux. Chest pain or heartburn is a common symptom of this.
Pain in chest when drinking hot tea
Chest pain after a cup of hot tea usually indicates an issue in the food pipe. The most common reasons are heartburn and esophageal damage:
- Hot foods and drinks might exacerbate acid reflux for some people. Such people might experience heartburn after drinking hot tea, which feels like a burning sensation around the center of the chest.
- Drinking very hot tea can cause a so-called “reversible thermal injury” to the esophagus. Such esophageal damage might explain why your chest hurts when you drink hot tea.
Another possible problem is the increased risk of developing esophageal cancer in the long term. According to this study, there is a link between drinking very hot tea and esophageal cancer.
Can tea cause heartburn?
Some people do experience heartburn after drinking tea. Possible causes might be the caffeine content, or the components added – such as sugar, lemon, or milk.
However, looks like the relationship between tea consumption and heartburn is still debated.
A examined 48,308 women, 42–62 years old, and concluded:
In an analysis of data from the prospective Nurses’ Health Study II, intake of coffee, tea, or soda was associated with an increased risk of GER symptoms. In contrast, consumption of water, juice, or milk was not associated with GER symptoms. Drinking water instead of coffee, tea, or soda reduced the risk of GER symptoms.(source)
However, this study – which is a meta-analysis of 30 other studies – found no association between tea consumption and acid reflux.
To make it more confusing: the study found that drinking tea may increase the risk of chest pain in East Asia and decrease in Middle Asia. The conclusion, of course, is that further studies are required.
Probably where you live has little impact on whether tea causes heartburn or not, but the type of tea you drink might have a more significant effect.
Black tea and chest pain
Drinking small, moderate amounts of black tea is probably safe for your heart, especially if your heart is healthy. This study found no significant effects of black tea on cardiovascular biomarkers.
While black tea is likely safe for your heart, it can still cause chest pain for people prone to acid reflux. This is because black tea is somewhat acidic, and its caffeine content helps to relax the lower esophageal sphincter (LES).
A relaxed LES cannot stop your digestion acids from flowing back up into the esophagus, causing you heartburn, chest pain, throat pain, or coughing.
Green tea and chest pain
Green tea is another popular tea type. It has many health benefits, but, just like black tee, it contains some caffeine, although in smaller quantities.
However, this might not be the case for your stomach. The effects on the LES are similar to black tea, albeit green tea is less acidic and contains less caffeine, so symptoms are somewhat less likely to occur.
This study mentions green tea as one of the factors associated with acid reflux, so it might not be ideal for people with a history of stomach disorders or acid reflux.
White, oolong and rooibos teas
All of these types should be well tolerated by the body and are unlikely to cause unwanted side effects.
However, all of these teas are somewhat acidic, so they might cause symptoms like chest pain, heartburn, etc. to people with acid reflux.
Many people like to make their tea tastier by adding some sugar, milk, or lemon. It is quite possible that symptoms are not caused by the tea itself, but by these ingredients. Especially sugar and lemon tend to cause chest pain for those who have acid reflux.
When drinking in moderation, tea consumption is unlikely to cause stomach or chest problems.
Unless you have heart problems or serious acid reflux, it is usually safe to try a cup of tea and see if it causes any problems for you.
Frequently asked questions
Because of the caffeine content, some types of tea might give you indigestion. Black tea is probably on the top of the list.
Back pain is a possible acid reflux symptom, so you might experience back pain after drinking tea. In such cases, you usually experience chest pain and/or other reflux symptoms as well.