If you’re reading this, you could be a coffee drinker looking to lower his caffeine intake by replacing the day’s second cup with tea. Alternatively, you might be a tea taker who had coffee for the first time and is wondering whether the next teacup is still on the menu. Ultimately, the question of whether you can drink tea after coffee is a question of whether you can stomach it.
You can drink tea after coffee as long as you eat something and have enough water to offset the dehydration caused by the beverages. Moreover, you should be mindful of caffeine’s effects and should manage your intake according to your caffeine tolerance.
In this article, coffee consumers and tea lovers will both find interesting things about both beverages, which will help them decide whether they should pair the two cups or let go of one. Among other things, you will learn the effects that are common in coffee and tea, the specific effects exclusive to each beverage, and the best practices of having tea after coffee. But first, let’s go to the short answer that sums up what you need to know right away.
Should You Drink Tea After Coffee?
While drinking tea after coffee isn’t always going to have a negative effect on your health, you should be mindful of the practice and your own caffeine tolerance and reaction to tannins. If you are a regular tea consumer who has had coffee before their daily tea time, you’ll need to be more cautious than if you’re a coffee drinker being offered a cup of tea.
The short answer is that coffee drinkers can have tea after coffee as long as they do not do so on an empty stomach, and tea lovers can have tea after coffee if they have sufficiently hydrated. To explain this further, you need to know what tea and coffee do to your body. Some effects are common to both beverages, while others are exclusive to one or the other.
Effects of Having Coffee or Tea
Let’s explore the effects common to both beverages. Regardless of whether you have coffee or tea, you will experience the following to varying degrees depending on your tolerance of the beverage.
Tea and coffee both dehydrate you, and you’re likely going to feel thirsty right after having a cup. If you do not feel thirsty, you should still strive to have at least as much water as the volume of coffee or tea you consumed. One cup of water after one cup of tea or coffee should be the bare minimum. Not drinking water within a few hours of having coffee can have an adverse effect on your kidneys.
Both coffee and tea contain tannins that are acidic in nature. If you consume either beverage while maintaining an overall acidic diet, you might feel heartburn. This is acid reflux that is otherwise experienced as a consequence of overeating. Gaviscon syrup is an over-the-counter solution that can help relieve heartburn.
Coffee and tea both cause bowel movements. If you are a habitual consumer, this becomes a part of your routine, but having either beverage for the first time can make the resulting urge to use the restroom a little inconvenient. Diarrhea can happen if one hasn’t had enough food for a while.
Given how both tea and coffee can cause acidity, diarrhea, and dehydration, it is advisable not to have the beverages together as the adverse effect can compound upon having tea and coffee in rapid succession. That said, the effects above aren’t universal in their intensity.
People who have multiple cups of coffee habitually are more used to the high caffeine content. For them, a cup of tea will not cause a noticeable difference, mainly because tea doesn’t have as much caffeine.
In fact, if you have two cups of coffee daily and switch one for tea, you will end up having less caffeine than before. However, you’ll be consuming more tannins, which might make you nauseous if you have not had enough to eat before.
Tea vs. Coffee: A Closer Look
It helps to use the following verbal device to remember the effects of tea compared to those of coffee. “T for tannin, C for caffeine.” Tea has 11.2% tannic acid, according to FAO’s 1986 findings. Compared to that, caffeine has only 4.6% tannic acid.
Coffee drinkers usually know that they have higher caffeine tolerance and may consume tea right after coffee because they’re not bothered by being overcaffeinated. The nauseous feeling that follows might take them by surprise.
Coffee can be consumed on an empty stomach, though new consumers can feel a little nauseous having a cup without something on the side. But in most cases, it takes little time to get accustomed to the 4.6% tannic content of coffee.
It seems like the same is difficult to replicate with tea. 11.2% is too high a percentage of tannins to stomach without a buffer. In the evening, one might be able to have a cup of tea without feeling like throwing up. But that’s due to breakfast and lunch already occupying one’s stomach.
Tea tannins aren’t kind to your stomach lining, so if you have only coffee as your breakfast and want to have tea before lunch, you’ll need to add a croissant or another snack as a buffer. And as long as you do that, you will not experience adverse effects.
There’s also the possibility that you’re not a habitual coffee drinker. In that case, your tea-taking practices already account for the beverage’s tannin content. You might take your cup alongside a slice of cake or toast. You may have it solo after a meal. Coffee’s tannin content is less than half of what a cup of tea contains, so nausea is the least of your worries.
However, coffee’s caffeine content is something you should be concerned about. The caffeine content of coffee is over three times that of tea. If you do not have four cups of tea a day and have had a cup of coffee today, the next cup of tea you take will add more caffeine into your body than you’ve had in a day. As a result, you will feel energized and alert, but you can become anxious and restless as well, depending on how the compound affects you.
Tea contains 26.2 mg caffeine in an 8-ounce cup, while coffee contains 94.8 mg in the same volume. Teacups are often smaller than coffee cups, which further lowers the caffeine content that tea takers are used to. Before deciding to take tea after caffeine, it is advisable to take a moment and consider how energized and/or dehydrated you are.
Coffee dehydrates more than tea, which is why you should drink more water after having it. Sometimes, dehydration can make you feel drowsy, which is ironic given how caffeine is often consumed because it can make one alert and focused. If the drowsiness from caffeine is the reason you’re thinking about having coffee, you should drink water instead. In case you still feel like you need an extra dose of caffeine, you may go ahead and have tea.
Is It Bad to Drink Coffee and Tea Together?
Having covered what to expect if you have tea after coffee, let’s look at the possibility of combining the two. Whether you’re pouring a little bit of instant coffee powder into your teacup or adding black tea into your french press, you’re increasing tannin and caffeine in the resulting cup. This is not a good idea.
It is bad to drink tea and coffee together if you mix the beverages because the tannin content of the resulting beverage and its caffeine volume are much higher. One cup of this mixture has more tannin than two cups of coffee and more caffeine than two cups of tea.
As a result, tea lovers and coffee consumers are likely to experience an excess of caffeine and tannin, respectively. People who have tea habitually will feel anxious or overactive having had coffee, and those who like coffee will experience heartburn or nausea because of excessive tannin consumption.
Best Practices of Having Tea After Coffee
Now that we have looked at the best-case scenario as well as the worst-case scenario of having the two beverages in succession or together, let’s dive into the best way to have these drinks without experiencing gut issues or anxiety.
Space Out the Servings
If you’re a coffee-lover, any cup of tea you have is technically after coffee, at least chronologically. But you don’t experience the effects listed above when having a random cup of tea. That’s because of time. If you can space out the cups to the point where the contents of one cup are no longer impacting you, the second cup’s contents will not compound side effects. This brings up the question of the ideal time you should wait after having coffee to have tea.
You should wait a minimum of three hours after having coffee to have tea to minimize the effects of both beverages’ contents compounding. Waiting longer is okay, but if you have tea before three hours have passed, you might experience acidic reflux or nausea.
Have Volume-Rich Food
The next thing you can do to minimize the effects of tea tannins is to have food that is rich in volume. Anything from bread to proteins will protect your stomach lining from being exposed to tea. Ideally, you should have a meal between coffee and tea, but if you’re having the second cup in short succession, you should sneak in a bagel or a light snack alongside the second serving.
Drink Plenty of Water but Not in One Go
Coffee causing dehydration is common knowledge, but people can misunderstand this fact. They believe that to offset coffee’s dehydrating effect, they need to drink a lot of water in one sitting. Doing so can cause nausea, especially if you have coffee on an empty stomach. It can also bring coffee closer to your pylorus (the stomach’s opening), which can lead to heartburn.
You must be more methodical in hydrating yourself after having coffee. Slowly sipping water every few minutes for up to two hours after having coffee can neutralize the hydration burden on your system and prepare you for your cup of tea.
Can You Drink Coffee and Tea in a Day?
Moderation has been recommended throughout this article, so it is only fair to ask how much moderation is too much? While drinking tea right after having coffee on an empty stomach is not a good idea, can one have the two beverages within a 24-hour period?
You can drink coffee and tea in a day, especially if you’re a regular coffee consumer. The caffeine content in tea is less than one-third of an average espresso. As long as you space the cups out by 3 hours, you should not experience adverse effects.
The only instances where having coffee and tea within one day is a bad idea are situations where having two cups of any caffeinated beverage is a bad idea. Do not have coffee and tea on the same day if you:
- If you’re naturally anxious and don’t regularly drink coffee – Caffeine can make you restless and overanxious.
- If you’ve only had tea before and are generally anxious – Coffee has more than three times the caffeine in a cup of tea.
- If you’re pregnant – More caffeine than is in a cup of coffee isn’t advisable for pregnant people.
- If you have an irregular heartbeat – Caffeine can cause heart palpitations.
- If you have not eaten anything in 24 hours – Tea and coffee tannins can make you nauseous.
- If you have not eaten anything after having one of the beverages – Coffee and tea can cause nausea.
While drinking tea after coffee will not have serious medical consequences for the average individual, it will make most people slightly nauseous if done on an empty stomach. As long as you take a light snack with your tea or have a meal after having coffee, you should be okay having tea after coffee.