Frequently Asked Questions
Risk Analysis of Improper Preparation/Use of Teas
- What if you use less water than the quantity recommended on the box?
If you use less water than what is recommended on the box, the tea will be more concentrated, with stronger flavor, but without any side effects. The amount of tea which should be used is calculated on the basis of official data from the European Pharmacopoeia and it is safe to consume. There is no health risk for the consumer in such cases.
- What if you use more water than the quantity recommended on the box?
If you put more water than what is recommended on the box, the tea will be diluted, with less flavor, but without any side effects. The amount of tea which should be used is calculated on the basis of official data from the European Pharmacopoeia and it is safe to consume. There is no health risk for the consumer in such cases.
- What if you prepare the tea with cold or tepid water, instead of with boiling water as recommended on the box?
On each tea box you can read precisely how hot the water should be for preparing the tea. The extraction of different herbs depends on the temperature of the water used for extraction. Some herbs have better extraction in boiling water (at 100°C), due to solubility of their active ingredients in such water. Other herbs, containing specific, thermally unstable active ingredients, should be prepared in tepid water in order to prevent their destruction.
If the tea is prepared with cold or tepid water, but not with boiling water, as recommended, the active ingredients from the herbs will not be sufficiently extracted, and they will not infuse fully into the water. In such a case, the tea will be diluted, with less flavor and less active ingredients. No health risks for the consumers in such cases.
In rare cases, when the tea is prepared with cold or tepid water, but not with boiling water, as recommended, and when the herb contains microorganisms within the limits set by regulations (in accordance with quality specifications), there is a possible risk that the microorganisms will not be destroyed by the cold water (they are destroyed by steeping in boiling water for at least 3-5 minutes). Such situations might cause side effects like nausea. There is health risk for the consumer in such cases.
4. What if you steep the tea bag in boiling water for fewer minutes than recommended on the box?
In this case the tea will be diluted and will have less flavor, due to the insufficiently extracted active ingredients. No health risks for the consumers in such cases.
In rare cases there is a risk that the microorganisms are not destroyed during the short-lasting steep in the boiling water (they are destroyed after a minimum of 3-5 minutes steep in boiling water). Such situations might cause side effects like nausea. There is health risk for the consumer in such cases.
- What if you steep the tea bag in boiling water for longer than recommended on the box?
If the tea belongs to the class of green, black or white teas, then the longer the herb is infused, the more tannins are extracted into the water. Tannins are substances contained in the herbs which cause an astringent effect, and have a very bitter taste. By steeping any of the above mentioned herbs for a longer period, the bitterness of the tea is increased. The tea is too bitter and is not recommended to drink if steeped for much longer than 5 minutes. Nausea and vomiting caused by stomach irritation due to large quantities of tannins are rare, but possible effects. There is health risk for the consumer in such cases.
As for most herbal teas, there is no risk if the herb is steeped in the water for a longer period of time. The tea can be consumed without any side effects. There is no health risk for the consumer in such cases.
Each herb is specific. It is recommended not to consume the tea if it was left to steep for more than 30 minutes.
- Is it possible to overdose on tea?
Each herb has a maximal daily dose, described on the box, which should not be exceeded. However, the likelihood of overdose on teas, is very slight and virtually non-existent.
The most common side effects which might occur as a result of tea overdose are as follows:
- Hypersensitivity, stomach cramps, gastrointestinal disorders, and irregular stool (consumption of senna leaf and buckthorn bark for a period longer than 2 weeks)
- Hypersensitivity, hepatotoxicity and genotoxicity (consumption of comfrey root and coltsfoot leaf for a period longer than 10 days)
- Hypersensitivity, over-caffeination, headache, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, irregular palpitation (over-consumption of black or green tea leaves)
- Hypersensitivity, gastrointestinal disorders, such as nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, chest pain, tremor and dry eyes (prolonged over-consumption of Valerian root)
- Hypersensitivity, nausea, and vomiting caused by stomach irritation due to presence of large quantities of tannins (prolonged over-consumption of bearberry leaves)
- What if the tea is not stored as prescribed on the packaging?
For almost all herbs, protection from light is essential as required by the European Pharmacopoeia. This is due to the fact that when the herb is exposed to light, the color of the leaves and flowers fades quickly. Additionally, light exposure speeds up the chemical processes which help decompose or transform the herb’s ingredients.
To maintain the quality of the herbs, temperature of the storage area should also be considered. In accordance with a rule set by van’t Hoff in 1884, each increase in temperature by 10оС causes the herb to double its reactions. The changes in the ingredients may be accelerated by the heat, too. The content of the volatile ingredients (essential oils) is rapidly lost by increases in temperature. Therefore, it is necessary to store the herbs in a cool, dry place.
Increased humidity has negative effects on the stability of the herbs: humidity stimulates the activity of some enzymes (mostly glycosidases) which decompose the ingredients in the herb and increase the risk of microbial growth, such as mold. For this reason it is recommended to store the herbs at dry places with relative humidity not higher than 60 %. There is health risk for the consumer in such cases.