March 7, 2007

Update on my tea allergy

Last month I wrote about giving up green tea and chocolate in hopes of curing a chronic cough that had gotten really annoying. Well, the cough disappeared quickly. I figured it was caused by an allergy to tea because allergy testing two years ago had revealed that I was allergic to black tea, and green tea is from the same plant.

After a week of being cough-free, I tried chocolate again and had no reaction, so the allergy was at least only to tea, not chocolate. In place of green tea I am drinking St. John's Wort Tea and Essiak Tea. The latter is made from herbs that were supposedly used by the Chippewa Indians to treat cancer, so I imagine that it's as full of antioxidants as green tea is. It tastes good to me.

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Other topics in last month's blog

Stafford area historic sites, mountain snowfall photographs, pictures of squirrels, birds, and dogs.


  1. you could try rooibos/ red bush tea which is made from a flower and is caffine free and has half the tannin of ordinary tea and it tastes lovely like very milky tea

  2. Thanks for writing. I tried rooibos tea several months ago and it made me cough so violently that I threw up. A little Benadryl made me feel better, but I don't plan to try the tea again.

  3. I have never heard of anyone being allergic to tea, however I suppose can believe that. You should stick to only herbal teas than for sure. One thing you may want to check is the quality of the tea. Sometimes really low quality will make my wife ill. My wife sometimes has a night time cough. We found she was allergic to MSG (which is in everything). After a while we found that lots of fiber (specifically granola) really helped reduce her symptoms. Now she can again enjoy her favorite food, Top Ramen (dont ask me I think she is crazy also).

  4. Actually, this blog gets a lot of hits from people searching for "allergic to tea" and "tea allergy" so I suspect it's not that rare. Also, it was included in a group of skin tests for allergy; not the basic group but an extended group. Both black tea and black pepper made my skin react. (I'm fairly sure the fact that both are black is just an accident of language.)

    I stay away from MSG, although I've no doubt eaten it in Chinese restaurants (where I only eat once every few months). Since I don't eat many convenience foods due to my other allergies, MSG is not a normal part of my diet. (Just try to find a frozen dinner that is free of dairy, wheat, yeast, soy, tomato and pepper! Actually there is one, a Thai dish of chicken with basil, but that's the only one I've found.)

  5. I have an allergy to tea. Firstly, after drinking some Rooibos tea I had an asthma attack which I didn't connect with the tea at the time. Several days later my son tried it an he too had an asthma attack, and no it was not coincidental - I had another cup and another asthma attack.

    Secondly, any tea inflamed my gums so badly I was getting tooth infections. Again I didn't connect this to tea but excluding it and then trying it again several times proved this to be the case.

    So no White, Red, Green or Black tea in my house.


  6. I found this post while looking for information on rooibos/red tea allergies. I noticed you said you were also allergic to tomatoes and peppers. I have a fairly severe tomato allergy myself [and I sympathise entirely with how ubiquitous tomatoes are] and I discovered recently that it's actually a nicotine allergy. Nicotine is in tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, as well as tobacco and coca. It is also used often as a pesticide in developing countries, so depending on where your tea originated, or even where your produce comes from, it might be something to keep on your mind. The connection between tomatoes and the specific nicotine alkaloid really helped me manage some of my allergies better. Even if it might not be the same allergy as yours, I thought I might pass the information along as something to ask your allergist about.

    Cheers, and good luck managing your allergies.

  7. Wow! Nicotine in tea! Turns out that the writer above is correct. A study called Determination of the Nicotine Content of Various Edible Nightshades (Solanaceae) and Their Products and Estimation of the Associated Dietary Nicotine Intake at the Graz University of Technology (Austria) attempted to measure nicotine in certain vegetables (including tomatoes) and tea and found that the amount of nicotine in tea varies greatly -- but it's there.

  8. This describes me exactly. I found this while searching for "tea allergy". I also have strong allergy to tomatoes, all peppers, and eggplant. Hope others will see this if they need help. Most doctors are not that knowledgeable about food allergies.
    I'm also allergic to all fruit, dairy, eggs, almonds, and all spices. I've found the most help and info for my food allergies from blogs and fellow food allergy sufferers. Thank you!

  9. I am also suffering tea allergy ,i never thought this way because it cleans our body. The allergy went through many parts in my skin (sculp,neck,organ) and its been almost a year ,until this article proves right.

    I'm thinking of a pure tea leaves,is it advisable?

  10. Chingkkay, I would be very cautious about trying pure tea leaves. Perhaps an allergist can advise you. Sounds like your reaction was widespread. Be careful.

  11. I always thought that Roiboos did not cause allergic reactions. In fact many advice to drink this tea to combat allergies. I drink Roiboos on occassion but one evening I drank quite a lot of it and ended up coughing violently. I don't know if it is the Roiboos itself or the flavour (Toffee) which I was allergic to.

  12. Hello all. After years of near freedom from skin allergies, I began to suffer again, in varying severity. A course of cortisone (so hard on the body) was ultimately necessary. That cleared up all but the red, itchy, flaky skin around my eyes, mouth and cheeks. These areas would also vary in severity, disappearing altogether for days at a time then reappearing suddenly. Finally, I made the connection of the relapses coming shortly after drinking Arizona Brand Diet Green Tea. I have stopped that beverage and my facial skin has been getting progressively clearer and healthier, and I have had zero regression since stopping the Ariz. Diet Green Tea. I suspect neither caffeine nor nutra-sweet was involved because I still drink Diet Sodas that contain both ingredients with no symptoms mentioned above. God Bless, and take care.....


  13. Long story short, I've had chronic hives three times - 1st time for a year, 2nd time for 1.5 yrs, 3rd time for 3 yrs. Each time, I was drinking A LOT of iced and hot tea daily. My allergist told me that I could not possibly be allergic to tea itself, but I was probably allergic to caffeine. So I drank decaffinated tea. But my hives did not stop. I tried different laundry detergent, lotions, etc. Nothing. When I stopped drinking tea altogether, my hives finally went away. I don't think it is the caffeine because I can drink caffinated sodas and eat some chocolate without getting hives. I haven't noticed any problems with Splenda, but a lot of people wonder about this so worth a look as well.

    The other thing to mention is that my new immunologist insists that my hives are related to my autoimmune disease, Hashimoto's, which attacks your thyroid. His theory is to push the thyroid medication as high as possible without becoming hyperthyroid and this would help my immune system stop being hyperactive and attacking my skin. Sadly, I did not notice any changes after several months of treatment. The doctor had me on 3 zyrtec, singulaire, ranitidine, occasional prednisone and plaquenil (used for lupus) daily to try to control my symptoms without success. So I'm not convinced that my thyroid autoimmune condition is the problem, but it may be worth a look for those with chronic hives as well.

    Good luck to everyone!

  14. My thyroid is low too, but while taking T4 and T3 has helped my energy somewhat, it hasn't helped my allergies noticeably.

    A couple of writers mentioned other allergies and we have these in common: tomatoes, peppers, some fruit, cow dairy, almonds, and some spices. If your allergies cause digestive problems, I recommend the enlightening book "Why Doesn't My Doctor Know This?"

  15. I read these posts with great interest. I am prone to migraine and certain foods trigger migraine such as the usual: too much coffee, cheese etc. Rooibos is an instant trigger. I thought it was just me, but then researched it on the internet and found that while some people enjoy it with no side-effects and apparently many health benefits, others are sensitive to Rooibos tea. I have cut it out of my diet instantly and have haven't had a migraine for quite a while now.

  16. Thanks for sharing your experience, Marianne. I have not been able to find out why rooibos causes reactions in a few of us. In "Healing Herbs A to Z," author Diane Stein says rooibos is considered safe but can be toxic in overuse with symptoms of "warmth, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or convulsions" and says to avoid if epileptic or pregnant. It can also increase the effects of some medications.

    Another report says that some batches of rooibos tea contain coliform bacteria. I imagine that any herb could be contaminated, and I would hope that boiling water would minimize the problem.

  17. I just realized that I am allergic to tea! I think it must be the mold spores that grow while tea is being dried.

    Other foods that have mold spores on their skin also cause me problems like cantaloupe, oranges, and avocados.

    My problem was intermittent diarrhea that went on for years. When it eased up, I thought about what I had eaten and tried elimination. Even thought I had lactose intolerance for awhile.

    I did not suspect tea, since the water is boiled. Finally, I stopped making tea for several months while dieting. My symptoms cleared up! When my son came home from college, I made a pitcher and enjoyed a glass several days in a row--bathroom symptoms came back with a vengeance--cramps, gas, and running to the bathroom.

    Fortunately, I can drink bottled or canned tea (I love Arizona Southern Sweet Tea) and have not had the problems as bad as before.

  18. Just got an email from Doug in Oregon. He writes: "I had what I thought was jock itch for many years. But antifungal medication didn't cure it.

    I suspected food allergy, but not tea allergy. I drank a lot of decaffeinated tea for many years.

    I finally realized that when drinking herbal tea, the problem would get a bit better.

    After having stopped all true tea for 2 weeks, the problem is 100% gone!

    I bet a lot of people with apparent fungal infections are actually allergic to something. I also bet a lot of people are allergic to tea and have no clue."

    1. Just this evening I questioned if perhaps I am allergic to sweat tea. I drink a lot of it and I make it daily from lipton black tea bags and sweeten with real sugar. I got over a cold a couple of weeks ago but my cough wont go away. My throat gets pasty and I feel like post nasal drip is in overdrive. It seems to be intermittent. I know I have mold allergies so I got to thinking maybe the Tea sat out to long, I drink it at room temperature so I'm wondering if it starts growing mold after a while. Anyway I'm not sure yet but I'm glad I found your post. I also suffer from what I thought was jock itch, blamed it on candida overgrowth which may or may not be correct. The normal treatments didn't help but the cream ladies use for yeast infections seems to help(can't think of the name of it right now).

  19. You'll want to be *really* careful taking St. John's Wort in any form. It's contains some very potent chemicals that are true anti-depressants (so potent that it's prescription only in Germany). The problem is that it interacts (negatively) with almost any medication.

  20. Good point about the St. John's Wort; it does interact with several medications. Also, it can make you sensitive to the sun. I don't drink it in summer for that reason.

  21. Thanks for sharing crucial information with us. This is really eye opening article about Skin Allergy Doctor Virginia. Once again Thank You for sharing this article.


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