Is it safe to eat tea leaves

By November 26, 2021

Loose-leaf green tea of the modern variety. Archaeologists have discovered ancient tea in the tomb of a Chinese emperor who died in 141 B.C. It's the oldest known physical evidence of tea. But scientists aren't sure if the emperor was drinking tea as we know it or using it as medicine.

Tea is a great beverage with lots of health benefits. For those who want to get more out of tea, one frequently asked question is: can you eat tea leaves? The answer is yes, no matter which tea type it is. Actually, in parts of the world tea leaves are even made a cuisine.

Benefits of tea leaves

The fact is, tea leaves is not harmful at all, but eating tea leaves won’t offer you more nutrient than drinking brewed tea. Many of the benefits like caffeine and antioxidants only come out after infusion, and the more you steep the tea, the less nutrient you’ll get.

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Concerns of tea leaves

  • Taste: Theoretically, fresh tea leaves and steeped tea leaves are both edible, but the latter will be much softer to eat and easier to digest. Even so, some people still don’t like the nasty taste tea residue brings.
  • Contamination: Studies show that there’s a higher level of contaminants in tea leaves than brewed tea, such as lead, aluminum, etc. Note that many of these contaminants only appear in brewed tea, so drinking tea will exempt you from the risks, while directly eating tea leaves do the opposite. Therefore, it’s better to ensure the reliability of the tea manufacturer before eating tea leaves.

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  • Constipation: Aside from some protein and water content, a large part of tea leaves is fiber, which is very hard to digest. Old tea leaves take time to mature, and you need time to pass them through your body. So it’s safe to eat tea leaves, but never take them in too much, or else you may get constipation or other bowel problems.
  • Stomachache: Sometimes eating tea leaves on an empty stomach may lead to stomachache, just like what drinking lemon water in the morning will do to your body. Once your stomach senses the food, it will produce more gastric. This is especially obvious for astringent green tea. The suggestion is, you eat some healthy snacks as well if you plan to eat tea leaves.

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The takeaway

It is safe to eat tea leaves, as long as your body accepts them and the tea source is reliable. But if you want to benefit from the caffeine, antioxidants and other healing components of tea, you may have to brew the leaves and take the hot beverage instead.

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