In many parts of the world, the average person wakes up each morning with a fresh cup of brew. That brew could be the UK's stereotypical breakfast tea or something stronger like coffee. Essentially, all it has to contain is caffeine to make you people feel more alive. But is there such a thing as too much of the good stuff? In other words, can you be addicted to tea?
If you're a person who drinks a cup on the hour every hour, you're definitely nodding your head to that question. To answer it accurately, however, you have to understand the caffeine content of various beverages and how the stimulant affects your body.
You've probably heard about the effects of caffeine before. With its ability to transport itself straight to your brain and trigger a dose of adrenaline, it's no wonder that a few swigs can leave you feeling alert and energised. Tea in particular has also been linked to various health benefits including the ability to fight against certain diseases.
However, what goes up must come down. The buzz that caffeine gives you will wear off eventually and can actually leave you feeling worse. “This is because brain chemistry doesn't like being interfered with by taking stimulants, so it releases chemicals that dampen the alert response," Dr. Chidi Ngwaba told the Mirror. "This lowers energy levels and mood, so you feel like another coffee — which continues the cycle.”
So can a love of tea result in a caffeine addiction? According to Time, although it is possible for a human to develop a tolerance to caffeine and therefore feel more dependent on it, it's unlikely that you'd be drinking enough tea for that amount of caffeine to enter your bloodstream.
Tea actually contains a lot less caffeine than a typical cup of coffee. A study carried out in 2008 found that a range of teas (including white, green, and black types) contained between 14 and 61 milligrams of caffeine per serving. A cup of coffee, on the other hand, had around 100 milligrams. That's almost three times as much in some cases.
A large-scale review of caffeine safety also determined that a caffeine intake of 400 milligrams a day (300 milligrams if you're pregnant) posed no health risks. However, the NHS recommends that pregnant women stick to consuming no more than 200 milligrams a day.
One way to figure out if you do have a caffeine addiction is to see if you experience any withdrawal symptoms when you reduce the amount of tea, coffee, or energy drinks you're consuming. As Healthline reports, these may reveal themselves in things like headaches, muscle aches, and feelings of irritability or fatigue. If these symptoms disappear when you ingest a beverage containing caffeine, you could be experiencing some form of addiction.
In order to slowly reduce your tea-related caffeine intake, try and use one teabag for multiple cups of tea or reduce the amount of time you leave the teabag in to brew. Or switch to herbal teas which contain precisely zero milligrams of caffeine. Ultimately, remember that, unless your tea drinking regularly runs into double figures each day, there's probably no need to panic.