Safe To Eat Tea Leaves from Tea Bag?

by TRM
(Brentwood, CA, USA)

I don't care for tea (of any kind) but want the benefits of green tea. I have been dumping my organic tea bags into smoothies, salads and cereal. There isn't much flavor to speak of. I'm just wondering if it's effective and/or safe.

Answer:

TRM, if the tea doesn't taste like anything, then chances are there are fewer health benefits.

In tea bag, the leaves have been chopped into small pieces, and with possible long shelf life, it means the antioxidants can easily oxidise away.

Green tea antioxidants such as egcg are extremely active and do not store easily. Good quality loose tea is freeze stored in air-sealed bag and keep fresh for only up to 12 months.

And it is these compounds that give green tea its taste.

As for eating tea leaves, doing it occasionally is fine, but I do not recommend.

Many people say by eating the leaves whole you are getting all the health benefits. This is not true.

This is because important tea compounds such as the catechins (antioxidants), caffeine and theanine (a relaxant that gives tea its characteristic taste) are all water soluble. So are many of the lesser compounds.

What is not water soluble are some of the pesticides and other unknown compounds. Because they are not water soluble, they have greater chance of accumulation in the body.

So it turns out that in green tea the safest way to consume it is the old trial and tested way - by steeping the leaves in hot water.

I hope this answer helps.

Julian

Comments for Safe To Eat Tea Leaves from Tea Bag?

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Apr 11, 2009
Eating Tea Leaves
by: Anonymous

Consider that tea leaves are only washed and sun dried, before chopping and bagging. That means they are not COOKED until you pour boiling water on them. Bacteria, bird and insect droppings, and other matter may be present. I would advise against eating from the bag.

Apr 12, 2009
Raw vs Cooked Tea
by: Julian

Tea is roasted at high heat during the making process to kill enzymes and halt the oxidisation process.

The process also reduces moisture to minimal and prevents the growing of bacteria.

(However, if tea leaves gain moisture later, which is inevitable for tea bags, it will gradually turn bad later.)

But still, it is not a good idea to eat tea leaves. Tea leaves are uncooked are is not the the main reason.

Jun 21, 2009
Inconclusive
by: Anonymous

Disappointing. I don't see how the water solubility of tea leaves makes it inadvisable to eat tea leaves in some way or form. The explanation of the methods of storing tea and such were thorough, but this piece seems to have failed in addressing the question accurately. So did the previous comments.

As for the comment about contamination, if tea leaves were somehow contaminated and unsafe to eat, then it stands to reason that in some obvious ways they would be unsafe to steep in water, strain, and drink.

Jun 22, 2009
Assymetrical Benefits and Risk
by: Julian

It is NOT so much about dealing with the situation accurately, or finding scientific evidence to justify eating tea leaves.

The starting point is for hundreds of years, Chinese tea experts have advised against eating tea leaves, can we find a reason to DO it?

We start with three facts:

- Most of the health benefits of tea leaves are water-soluble: theanine, caffeine and catechins (antioxidants). So you don't gain much by eating tea leaves.

- Most of the health hazards are much less water soluble: heavymetals and pesticides. So you lose much by eating tea leaves.

- The trial-and-tested method of consuming tea leaves are steeping and infusion, not eating.

So if I want to recommend eating tea leaves, I need to see firm scientific proof that it is safe, not the other way round.

Oct 16, 2009
hummmm
by: dorothy

Well, in looking for information about green tea as to fighting the Flu, I found just what I was looking for. Several web sites had great information and even this site, I found additional info.

But I had to leave comment because I was tickled by the response left by Anonymous to julian; "you are a bitch". (laughing) Grow up Anonymous!!! (laughing)

So, I thank you Julian for your posting. I agreed with it and thought it well stated and so I will take it into consideration as I more properly sip my green tea to ward off the flu.
dorothy

Oct 19, 2009
I inclined to agree with "anonymous"
by: Anonymous 2

None of this is conclusive PLUS chinese people (and Japanese and Korean) actually eat tea leaves all the time or so I'm told by all my international student friends from east Asian.

One friend went so far as to say that it's a cultural norm to eat tea leaves because it cleans the palelt and keeps your mouth fresher.

Also - there's heavy metals and all kinds of things in pretty much everything we eat. and it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Zinc is a necessity and it's absolutely a heavy metal. and putting tea in BOILING water is going to de-lodge contaminants whether they're water soluble or not.

Oct 19, 2009
Drink versus Eating Tea Leaves
by: Julian

I think it just comes back to how comfortable you are eating tea leaves.

The issue is that tea leaves have the tendency to absorp contaminants from the environment.

The older the leaves, the higher the risk.

Risks are the lowest when:

- you are drinking a young tea buds (i.e. the first two leaves at the top of the bush)

- green tea (because they are younger leaves)

- your tea leaves are high quality and taste good

- you drink a small amount of tea each day

There is a big difference on what you actually consume when you are drinking soluble soiids OR eating whole leaves.

If you are not confident of the quality of your leaves, or just want to be safe, or you are drinking a lot a lot of tea, then my advice is to drink it, not eat it.

Nov 15, 2009
Tea leaves are good
by: Trevor S.

A contaminated tea bag will still give you the contaminates when placed in water.

Bacteria will often die in high temperatures , so your probably safe on that part . If there are pesticides which I highly doubt.

You are still consuming that, no matter if you eat it or if its placed in water , most pesticides are water soluble.

Not to mention , a lot of foods in your local grocery mart probably have had pesticides on it at one point , or are still in the food itself.

So don't be scared to eat some tea leaves, after all you are getting all of its benefits when eating it , and your getting less from drinking.

There is so much nutrients and such being absorbed in to the water that it cannot absorb anymore and therefore you'll be loosing out because a lot of the benefits are still in the leaves and not in your cup of tea.

My advice: Eat tea leaves or drink them, whichever you prefer.

Nov 16, 2009
Eat dry leaves for your health
by: Bev

While traveling in Morocco, I got a case of diarrhea. Our guide procured some dry "Moroccan green tea" leaves (I think it is actually a certain variety of Chinese green tea) in the dried form of little pearls. He gave me the tea and instructed me to swallow two or three teaspoonfuls with as little water as possible just to get it to go down.

It worked like a charm - very quickly and completely - my previously recurring, miserable symptoms disappeared. I have used it several times since for severe indigestion and nausea and again had very satisfactory results.

My theory is that the tea leaves expand, and thoroughly absorb everything in their path. From stomach to colon, they cleanse and carry a lot of contaminants right on out of the body. Like a sponge, soaking up and clearing out bacteria, mucous and acid.

After waiting an hour or two for the tea to do its job, then you should hydrate once again by drinking plenty of water.

Feb 02, 2010
Batchy and Annoying
by: Hater

You people should stop being batchy and
annoying and just face the fact.
What a bitch fight. Gosh

Aug 01, 2010
Toxicity
by: Abel

The bottom Paragraph of the page in this link may be true:

Green Tea Medical Benefits

Aug 09, 2010
Eating fresh
by: teaguy

I've grown tea now for several years. I pick the young tender leafs and use them like chewing tobacco and I do eat them as well (fresh). With all these comment on green tea I hope this practice is healthy for me. I guess I'll find out. How about fresh green, is it safe.

Teaguy

Aug 19, 2010
Solution...
by: Anonymous

Why not just make the tea and add it to your smoothies in place of water? That way, it is brewed, and you still don't have to taste it.

Aug 26, 2010
Tea leaves
by: Anonymous

I do, and in Burma its, tomatoes,cabbage, and its really tasty. But the thing is my parents told me if I eat a lot, it could cause constipation, but don't eat a lot. I have to say I'm rather addicted even though its bitter.i still love it.

Sep 20, 2010
Compromise
by: Thomas J.

I thought this was a very helpful article and comment section; however, it still leaves me standing in the middle with uneaten white tea leaves in my cup. So, I think it's best to stick with merely sucking on the leaves for a minute and then getting rid of them. I've yet to experience negative effects from doing this. Contrarily, I have been feeling great, and I don't think it's worth the risk to soak up every drop.

Nov 13, 2010
Hater is a troll
by: Anonymous

LOL. enuff said.

Nov 14, 2010
Trial
by: TriedtheTrial

Why do you say "trial and tested"?

Do you mean the phrase "tried and tested"? That's what everyone else says....

Nov 15, 2010
Dangers of chewing tea leaves
by: Tina

Effects and dangers of tea leaves.

Nov 15, 2010
Dangers of chewing tea leaves
by: Anonymous

Been chewing and eating tea leaves without mixing them in hot water. I do consume alot of it to an extent at times I don't believe that I finished a whole box of tea bags in 2 days which contains 75 tea bags of tea leaves.

I do tie them up and pour in my mouth and I actually feel great after chewing. I have done this for almost a year now.

What bad effects or dangers could or can this bring??. The only thing I can now notice is that I bleed a lot when am in my periods. It takes almost a week.

Will I ever have kids in future? How about my lungs, kidneys and so forth. Please I need your help on this?

Dec 30, 2010
Matcha!
by: mattlant

Green tea leaves are eaten, a lot, in the east. Matcha is just one example, finely ground green tea leaves. According to wikipedia (hence another ref on the page) the ingestion of matcha can potentially give 137x the benefits of steeped green tea!

I know there is some difference between the two, mainly preperation, but still, I would imagine that is is safe to eat/drink.

I take green tea that i would normally steep in a bag, grind it in a mortar and pestle, and steep that, and usually end up drinking 2/3rd the leaves. I will say this, it sure is tastier, much stronger green tea!

One important quote that is worth reprinting: "The aforementioned health benefits of matcha green tea can largely be attributed to the fact that the whole tea leaf is ingested, as opposed to just the steeped water in the case of 'bagged' green teas"

Matcha: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matcha

Jan 24, 2011
Green tea
by: Anonymous

You could boil it like you do normal tea, just use less water. Then add it to a smoothie.

Apr 28, 2011
Eating Tea Leaves
by: Jaeny@http://www.yeastfreecenter.com/yeast-free-foods

That is indeed a good reason to not consume tea leaves on a daily basis. Taking tea as it is in a cup of hot water and maybe a bit of lemon or honey to taste, not only is good for our health, it also helps us relax.

May 11, 2011
How about smoking it?
by: Amanda

I too hate the taste of tea no matter how much honey or sugar I add. So I had this idea what if I smoked it or baked it like you do with weed. I found many other people who had this idea and some who had actually tried it, but know one could answer this question:

Do you still get the benefits, ie: antioxidants for your immune system, phytochemicals for your bones, and whatever lowers your risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and blood clots?

I know tea is really good for you and has tons of benefits, but if I hate it I'm just not going to indure it enough to see any.

Jul 31, 2011
Delicious
by: Anonymous

After reading the article and all the comments here, I just wanted to add, that I do eat dry Japanese green tea leaves simply because they are delicious.

So delicious, I find it hard to care about the positive or negative effects. It must be the enzymes or glutamic acid that tastes so irresistably good - I took a tiny taste out of curiosity and now I can't stop. I prefer eating the dry leaves to drinking brewed tea. But only expensive tea tastes good - my favourites are sencha mixed with matcha and deep steamed first flush sencha.

Gyokuro is very sweet, but bland and a little fishy. I have been doing it for about 5 months, on a daily basis (really, I CAN'T stop it!) with no ill effect.

I have noticed that I have not had a single episode of flu since I started, even a couple of times, when my entire family (husband and 3 kids) were down and miserable with the flu - I was fine.

Oct 27, 2011
Tea Leaves
by: Cresix

I would boil it, drink the tea infusion while eating ice cream with tea leaves mixed in!

Dec 07, 2011
You really don't know what you're talking about
by: Anonymous

Julian, you basically change your answer with every comment.

First, drinking tea was the only way to get the nutrients and it could be potentially dangerous to eat tea leaves.

Then, after basically being told you were wrong, covered it up by saying it depended on whether you were comfortable eating them.

Feb 18, 2012
Go Organic
by: Barbara Gene

I have been putting green tea in my smoothie for about 6 months now. After reading all the helpful comments I think I will only use organic green tea for my smoothie. I also take green tea capsules 400mg each, but not on the days I use tea in my smoothie.
Thank you everyone
Seattle Wa

Sep 09, 2012
In reply to Answer
by: Super De Duper

I agree with all except the pesticide thing. He said he was eating organic green tea, it should be void of pesticides. I've been doing it and have had no ill effects. It makes it more convenient to just throw into a smoothy too, instead of boiling the water, waiting for it to cool, then putting it into the smoothy. Great pick me up for the morning!
Disclaimer: To each their own, what works for me does not work for everyone :)

Sep 18, 2012
thanks
by: alexander

this was very useful info i wonder what the unknown compounds are haha cheers to good health via tea lol

Oct 20, 2013
Best of both worlds
by: Marveen

I have recently started making a cup with a tea bag as usual (I will get some better quality loose tea when I can afford to), letting it steep therefore helping to release any nutrients that depend on being immersed in water and killing off potential bacteria, drinking the tea and leaving the tea bag on the side to coo then opening it and swallowing the contents down with a sip of water/tea/juice a little later.
I am thinking it has to be beneficial, people re-steep tea because not all it's flavour/goodness is released in one brew so it makes sense that there are still benefits to be had from the leaves.

Dec 24, 2013
Thanx
by: Anonymous

This was very helpful!! thank you very much!!

Jan 30, 2014
more green teas
by: Mary

Nice reading this, I also like this top 10 green tea list:
http://bestteareview.com/best-green-tea-top-10-list/

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