Can you eat tea leaves? (+3 benefits)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat tea leaves?”, and how you can get the benefits from the tea?

Can you eat tea leaves?

Yes, you can eat tea leaves. Tea leaves are best eaten after steeping. This not only softens them but extracts roughly 80% of the caffeine content of the tea as well. Steeping also removes any dust and debris whilst reducing the microbial load of the leaves so they won’t cause any harm. 

But drinking tea is a very calming experience. The question is If eating tea leaves is worth the deal or not because tea leaves taste bad. Let’s dig into how you can reap maximum benefits by eating tea leaves and what might be the risks associated with it. 

How you can get the benefits from the tea?

Steeping the tea leaves puts you at a little disadvantage there. It is because almost all of the antioxidants, caffeine and other nutrients are water-soluble. Eating such tea leaves without the nutrients does not make sense. 

So we have established the fact that you cannot gain more health benefits by eating tea leaves whole than drinking the infusion. This is true for all types of tea regardless of how they are processed. 

It also includes the Pu’er tea which can make you up to 10 cups of tea with the nutrient profile of the brew getting poorer and poorer with subsequent brew.

Eating tea leaves can cause constipation 

Tea leaves are basically fiber. Some of the composition is protein while fat is in very little amounts. The older the leaves, the harder the texture and the more difficult they are to digest by our body. 

The fiber of the tea leaves is hard to digest and the whole situation will be made worse If you ate a lot of tea leaves in a single sitting. The result is constipation. This particularly happens after eating green tea leaves. 

The effect on the digestive system is reinforced by eating green tea leaves on an empty stomach. This explains why drinking lemon water or coffee on an empty stomach is also a bad idea. 

Your stomach produces gastric when it senses you are ingesting food. But the acidic brew adds to the acidity of the stomach which does not have desirable consequences. So you must eat tea leaves along with some snacks or between meals.

Some tea farms use pesticides to control their crops 

The pesticides are added to get more plant yield. These chemicals do not dissolve in water, thus, do not pose a risk If you are drinking tea infusion. 

So, you are automatically exposed to a lot of pesticides If you are eating tea leaves. If you are firm on eating whole tea leaves, consider eating the ones sourced from an organic farm or pesticide-free tea leaves.

Other FAQs about Tea which you may be interested in.

Can tea bags be reused?

Can tea bags expire?

The case for matcha, and why is it different from eating whole tea leaves 

Matcha is a very exquisite green tea. The matcha tea leaves are dried and powdered. This powder is steeped. So, you are not just ingesting the tea leaves, you are actually drinking the infusion with the powdered tea leaves, thus, getting all the benefits. 

However, matcha latte, matcha ice cream, cakes, or desserts do not provide you any nutritional goodness of matcha tea. Milk or dairy reduces the bioavailability of the matcha plus a lot of sugar goes into the milk to make the matcha milk combination tasty. 

Eating black tea leaves out of the teabag 

Teabags contain dust and fannings and not to forget the sweepings of the factory or industry food. The greater surface area of the tea in the teabags allows a quick release of tannins, polyphenols, enzymes, and other nutrients. But the result is quite the opposite when you are eating them as is.

Benefits of eating loose leaf tea 

  • Eating whole tea leaves may provide you some of the anti-oxidants that are not available via steeping. 
  • Moreover, whole tea leaves will provide you a whole lot of caffeine than the tea infusion. 
  • Whole green tea leaves have 90 times more catechins than their steeped counterpart. 

Bacteria in loose leaf tea 

If you want to consume steeped leaves, make sure you do not allow them to sit on the counter for too long. The moisture on the surface of these leaves will provide shelter for bacteria to grow to unacceptable levels. 

Therefore, If the leaves are not to be consumed within an hour, refrigerate the tea leaves after putting them in an air-tight container.


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat tea leaves?”, and how you can get the benefits from the tea?


What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.