Does green tea ever make you sick?

I’ve been drinking black tea all my life: hot or iced, higher and lower quality, with or without sugar or milk. It has never even mattered whether or not I have an empty stomach. I can easily drink black tea the way I drink water — all day every day — and have no problems. That’s why I don’t think I’m particularly sensitive to caffeine.

Though I still drink it in moderation, I have had issues with coffee causing acid reflux, not nausea, in the past.

But it took me a little while to figure out that the thing causing my recent nausea is probably the matcha I’ve tried to drink. I know that it’s supposedly like drinking 10 cups or so of regular green tea, but even so, I think it has less caffeine than coffee. I drank coffee today, and I’m fine.

I realize the matcha is quite concentrated, but now I’m a bit wary of trying other green tea. This particular matcha is organic and has no additives — it’s DoMatcha. But it caused me to have stomach pain and nausea for at least 48 hours after drinking just one cup.

Have any of you ever experienced this or other kinds of sickness from green tea?

27 Replies
Uniquity said

Green tea makes me nauseous most of the time. Green oolongs do as well some time. And white tea. And matcha. So I often avoid them all. I haven’t really found a common thread to when it happens.

Uniquity said

Just re-read your thread. It only lasts a short while for me though. Definitely not 48 hours. If you’re sure it’s the matcha, I suggest not drinking it anymore. That is a long time to not feel well!

You’re right. I had wanted to make sure it was the matcha, but eh… I guess you can never be 100% sure, but I’m definitely avoiding it now.

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AllanK said

How well did you source your matcha. With matcha you are consuming all the tea, period. There could have been something else in your tea that wasn’t supposed to be there. You could also have gotten sick from one thing and think it another. This had happened to me. However, pesticides in your matcha could do the trick.

AllanK said

It is also possible that because you don’t use boiling water with matcha but water around 175 degrees that there was bacteria in the matcha that survived the brew. With black tea this is not a problem because you generally boil the water.

That’s possible, as the water was around 175, I think. There shouldn’t have been pesticides since it was organic. The brand was DoMatcha, which I’ve seen a couple of people recommend on here. I hated it though. I tried it more than once because I wasn’t sure I was preparing it quite right.

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Ubacat said

I’ve never had a bad reaction from green tea but I don’t drink matcha. Matcha has a lot of caffeine. Another thing to consider: is the matcha flavoured or is there anything added to it? There may be something in the additives you are reacting to.

I suggest you try some straight Chinese green teas or even give raw pu’erh a chance.

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cookies said

I’ve never heard of anything like that. Maybe your matcha was somehow not sealed properly? Or did you perhaps eat/drink something else around the same time that could have caused sickness? It could also have been some sort of stomach bug. This is definitely the time of year for it.

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Matcha has a lot of caffeine in it, 3 times the caffeine than regular green tea – it’ll hit you hard if you aren’t used that much. I know if I drink too much matcha my stomach gets angry.

Also food poisoning has a very big window – from even a couple days to a few weeks. I could be something else.

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MaeMaeTea said

I actually have had the same issue with some matchas, it never lasts that long for me though. I’ve heard some attribute this effect to the detoxifying nature of green tea. Although, I’m not sure how true that is.

Interesting. I’m not sure whether I have the same issue with all green teas. I never noticed a problem drinking green tea with fresh mint leaves in Morocco, though I may have exacerbated the problem last week by drinking some of that on the same day I’d had a cup of matcha. And I don’t remember having issues with jasmine scented green teas in the past. Maybe it will just end up being the matcha.

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Teasenz said

Even though green tea is promoted to be a healthy drink, it’s actually not healthy for everyone. In China, people who have a bad stomach function often stay away from green tea. Diet guru’s promote green tea as a weight loss drink, and will tell you it’s normal to have a bad stomach, but it’s just not healthy.

I have a few tips to avoid side effects:
- Don’t drink green tea on an empty stomach (very very important, if you experience stomach problems)
- If you’re sensitive to caffeine, don’t drink it during the evening
- Green tea is more suitable during hot seasons, because it has a cooling effect on your body, even if you drink it hot. Similarly this makes it more suitable to drink it during the day, than in the evening, as the temperature is higher during day time.

In case you still experience side effects after taking into account the above, you could go for more oxidized teas that are more easy on the stomach, such as oolong, black or pu erh. White tea can be suitable, if it’s a aged one.

Yeah, I’m going to have to stay away from green tea for the most part, I think. And that’s fine because I haven’t tried one that I like all that much. I wasn’t drinking it for weight loss, but I’d thought all the antioxidants and other purported benefits would be nice if I could ever find a one I liked.

I just wouldn’t have expected it to be worse for my stomach since I’ve never had any trouble with black tea. Do you know why more oxidation makes teas easier on the stomach?

LuckyMe said

Thanks, this is good to know. Although I’ve never experienced any ill-effects from green tea, I often have a cup first thing in the morning or sometimes tea is all I’ll have for breakfast. Next time, I’ll have a bite to eat first before drinking tea.

Teasenz said

@LuckyMe, I am glad this info is useful to you ;)

@Kristinalee, it’s a bit hard to explain. It has to do with Ying and Yang properties of food, maybe this article could be helpful.
Basically, it kind of depends on the the conditions of your body and how you balance that with the environment that you are in. It’s very common sense to explain, but at the same time when try to explain this to my western friends they are like…???? _

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Ost said

Green tea tends to make me sick a lot. Particularly when it’s really buttery. There’s something about buttery notes in teas that just make me wanna puke. Buttery notes remind me of milk because it’s super thick and creamy and apparently my stomach just can’t handle that kind of thickness. :S Can’t even deal with milk oolongs.
I don’t generally like other grassy green teas so I couldn’t tell if they make me sick in general really…just teas with milky/buttery notes.

Uniquity said

I’m not alone!

I’m fine with buttery Japanese greens but not with milk oolongs, even if they’re nonflavored.

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So, I was just reading that green tea can hinder iron absorption, which I think may be one of the major issues for me, especially given how potent matcha is. I tend to become anemic easily, and when I do, I get migraine-like nausea and fatigue. The nausea that I had wasn’t food poisoning. I didn’t have the kinds of severe symptoms associated with that. I think this may very well be the explanation for my symptoms. But since I never had this issue with mint green teas I drank in the past, I may try to reintroduce them in moderation. It probably just made matters worse when I brewed a pot of the mint green tea in the afternoon just a few hours after drinking the matcha that day. As I recall, Moroccans did tend to drink that in small servings just once or maybe twice a day — and always with food.

AllanK said

A variety of illnesses can cause damage to the small intestine and stomach. After this happens things that should not make you sick can. This sort of thing happened with me but I have recovered enough so that many things that once made me sick no longer do.

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Cwyn said

I tried to find an article I read last year, thought it was a link from MarshalN but now I’m not sure. Anyway the article was an interview with a master oolong roaster noting the trend now is nearly all for too-green tea, and how people are turning up sick across regions from drinking too much green tea that is meant to be roasted. The master roaster talked about how traditional charcoal roasting is getting lost because younger people are not learning how to do it.

A lot of articles I’ve read too are about aging and a growing intolerance for green tea, that roasted tea and shou are often all that an older person can take.

Well, I’m only 35 — not sure if that qualifies as older on here or not. But that is very interesting. It surprises me a bit that you don’t hear more about this when people recommend green tea as a healthy drink.

Uniquity said

People need to stop recommending green tea as a healthy drink! :) It drives me crazy. Just because it has more of one thing or another doesn’t mean it is the be all and end all. All tea has polyphenols/antioxidants. Green tea maybe has more. But then as with all things tea, it depends on the leaf. Some has more, some has less. Perhaps preparation factors in as well. In general, health gurus have make green tea and matcha holy, while black tea is the shady cousin, full of caffeine and nothing good for you. Not true! There are also often many misleading statements about caffeine, such as that green tea contains less of it which is also healthy. And also not always true. Some green tea has more caffeine than some black teas. It’s all variable!

Clearly this is a personal issue, haha.

Oh, I agree, and in any case, I have no qualms about consuming caffeine. I really don’t think that’s my problem.

Teasenz said

We should just drink what we love! That’s the main health benefit…while listening to your body when it doesn’t feel right.

AllanK said

According to my gastroenterologist I should drink green tea as he considers it better for my digestive system than black tea because it has less caffeine. He was not talking about matcha where you consume 100% of the caffeine.

Uniquity said

AllanK, My issue with that is that not all green tea has less caffeine than black tea. You and other Steepsterites likely know a lot more about tea than she or he does, and know that unless you test the tea (or use teabags) you don’t know the caffeine content of each batch. There are green teas which contain more caffeine than black tea. I don’t think all medical personnel should research tea and caffeine levels but I dislike that broad advice, especially since it’s based on generalizations that don’t necessarily hold true in reality. If you’re sourcing loose leaf tea, you really don’t know the caffeine content unless you test it. Which of course is impractical.

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