Are You Allergic to Green Tea?

Tea (green, black, and oolong) is considered one of the most popular beverages in the world. Green tea is ranked among the top three, thanks to its high antioxidant content.

Although it is generally well-tolerated, it may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

This article will explain the symptoms of a green tea allergy, how it is diagnosed and treated, and healthy alternatives.

Green Tea In Cup

(Phethay Canthra Phun / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Health Benefits of Green Tea

Some of the health benefits of green tea include:


Ongoing research reviews green tea extract to prevent symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and lower cholesterol.

Green Tea Allergy Symptoms

Like other allergies, a green tea allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen by producing antibodies, which trigger an allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions can cause symptoms in the ears, nose, throat, and sinuses. It can also cause symptoms on the skin and the stomach lining.

Potential symptoms of an allergic reaction to green tea include:

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Symptoms such as vomiting, swelling of the tongue or throat, and difficulty breathing occur suddenly and can quickly progress. For this reason, it requires immediate emergency attention.

Why It Happens

There is little information about green tea allergies. Research suggests an allergy may be triggered by a tannin (natural compound) found in green tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Green tea also contains caffeine, which may trigger a reaction in someone with non-allergic caffeine intolerance or a caffeine allergy.

However, a small study suggests it may also be triggered by dust from tea leaves. Researchers looked at Japanese green tea factory workers who developed difficulty breathing, a cough, and a loss of consciousness after ingestion of green tea, oolong tea, or black tea. They also experienced symptoms after eating cakes or noodles containing green tea powder.

The study found less than half of the participants developed a food allergy due to inhalation of green tea dust on the job. Many participants showing allergic reactions to green tea had consumed green tea in the past without difficulty.

Risk Factors

For most adults, green tea is safe when consumed in moderation. However, the following people should check with their healthcare provider before drinking green tea:

  • Pregnant people: Some research suggests caffeine may lower birth weight and stature.
  • Caffeine sensitivity: People sensitive to caffeine may experience irritability, anxiety, restlessness, or an upset stomach after drinking green tea.
  • Young children: Caffeine is a stimulant that is not recommended for children under 12.

Green Tea Intolerance

Unlike a green tea allergy, an intolerance occurs in the digestive system. An intolerance may occur for several reasons, including:

  • Absence of certain digestive enzymes
  • Sensitivity to natural compounds in a food or beverage
  • Sensitivity to certain food additives

How to Diagnose a Green Tea Allergy

If you suspect a green tea allergy, it's important to visit your healthcare provider or an allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

To make the diagnosis, your healthcare provider will:

  • Ask for detailed information about your past medical history
  • Perform a physical exam
  • Conduct proven allergy testing techniques

Most of the diagnoses are confirmed by oral food challenges; however, more research is needed to develop a blood test for diagnosing green tea allergy.

Tea Intolerance Symptoms

The symptoms of green tea sensitivity or intolerance are different from those of a tea allergy. If you have an intolerance to green tea, you may experience:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nervousness
  • Gas or bloating

Green Tea Allergy Treatment

For mild symptoms, your healthcare provider may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines, which can help reduce symptoms such as swelling, itching, and hives.

The best way to treat a green tea allergy is not to drink it. You may also need to avoid consuming other foods or beverages from the Camellia Sinensis, such as:

  • Matcha tea
  • Black tea
  • Oolong tea

For a severe allergy that causes anaphylaxis, you will need epinephrine (EpiPen) treatment, which must be with you at all times.

Alternatives to Green Tea

If you're allergic to green tea, consider these alternatives, which have similar benefits:

  • Herbal teas
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Beet juice
  • Acai juice
  • Kombucha

Summary

Green tea is one of the world's healthiest beverages. Although a green tea allergy is rare, it can still happen. Most green tea allergies are related to its compounds (tannins and caffeine). However, newer studies suggest a protein in green tea may also trigger an allergic reaction. Treatment often includes removing green tea from your diet.

A Word From Verywell

Although uncommon, being diagnosed with a green tea allergy can be frustrating, especially if you enjoy it. The good news is that plenty of alternatives can provide similar benefits. However, if you believe you may have a green tea allergy or intolerance, you must speak with your healthcare provider or allergist.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you drink green tea before allergy testing?

    Before allergy testing, green tea and other supplements should be avoided for five to seven days.

  • Is green tea bad to drink everyday?

    No, for people without a known allergy or intolerance, drinking green tea every day can benefit a person's overall health.

  • Why does my throat hurt after drinking green tea?

    The tannins in green tea can contribute to a dry mouth and throat, leading to a sore throat.

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12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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