Does Tea Dehydrate You? | Care2 Healthy Living

I recently swapped out my morning cup (OK – cups) of coffee for black and green tea. I’d been merrily counting each cup of tea toward my water goals until someone mentioned offhand that tea dries you out. Were they right? Does tea dehydrate you? Let’s find out!

Does Tea Dehydrate You?

Does tea dehydrate you? The short answer is: no. But the longer answer is more complicated, and it could change how you approach your hydration goals.

Caffeine and Hydration

You can’t look at the question of tea and hydration without considering caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic (meaning it makes you pee), so it causes you to lose fluids. The question is: do you lose more than you gain?

A recent study found that caffeinated drinks—like coffee, black tea and green tea—actually don’t dehydrate you. Study author Dr. Daniel Vigil told Time that while caffeine is a mild diuretic, you don’t lose more fluids than you take in.

But you do lose some fluids from caffeine’s diuretic effect, meaning that caffeinated tea is less hydrating than herbal tea or water. More caffeine equals less hydration, so the lower the amount of caffeine in your cuppa, the more hydrating it is.

Here’s a chart comparing the caffeine content in brewed coffee with a few types of caffeinated tea (source, source).

Caffeinated Drinks List

As you can see, coffee tends to contain a lot more caffeine than caffeinated teas, which explains why I felt much thirstier when I was kicking off the day with a few cups of coffee vs. a few cups of tea.

But there’s more to tea and hydration than caffeine.

Purines

Naturopath Christopher Vasey, ND told Care2 that “drinks like coffee, black tea and cocoa are very high in purines, toxins that must be diluted in large quantities of water to be flushed from the body.” While tea is actually relatively low in purines compared high purine food and drinks, it’s still something to consider, if you’re counting those mugs toward your total water intake.

Does Tea Dehydrate You?

Because of the caffeine and purine in caffeinated teas, you just need to drink more to get the same hydrating effects that you’d get from herbal tea or water.

How to Know if You’re Dehydrated

When you’re truly hydrated, you know it. Jordyn Cormier lays out the signs of slight dehydration and explains that you need to drink more fluids if you’re experiencing:

  • thirst
  • dry lips or mouth
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • dark-colored urine (A friend of mine used to joke, “Pee clear, pee to win!” Maybe she was right.)

Slight dehydration might sound scary, but Cormier says it really isn’t. Think of these signs as your body nudging you to have a drink. If you oblige, you’ll be just fine.

Tracking your fluid intake is a great way to get into the habit of consistently hydrating, but since things like caffeine and purine can play into how hydrating a drink is, that number of ounces isn’t how you’ll really know that you’re fully hydrated. At the end of the day, your best bet is to worry less about total ounces and listen more closely to your body.

If you’re chronically thirsty, it could indicate diabetes or or health issues. Talk to your doctor, if you’re thirsty all the time, no matter how much you drink.

Images via Thinkstock

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