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Should You Drink Black Tea Before Bed?

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There are many types of black teas with interesting and complex flavors suitable for different occasions.

I often start my day with a cup of English breakfast tea or Earl Grey tea. I feel like these popular blends of black teas provide a nice energy boost and help with starting a new day with a smile!

And what could be better than a delicious biscuit and a cup of tea in the afternoon?

But how about having a cup late in the evening? Is it going to ruin your sleep?

I think that there are better options for a bedtime tea.

Let me explain why I don’t recommend drinking black tea at night and what are some other options that you should consider instead.

Why You Shouldn’t Drink Black Tea at Night

The main reason I don’t recommend drinking black tea before bedtime is that it contains caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases alertness and both mental and physical energy levels.

While this might be obvious to some people, let’s take a quick look at what research says about caffeine and sleep.

Caffeine and Sleep – Research Results

There are many studies that focus on how caffeine affects sleep.

For example, a placebo-controlled study from 2013 had the subjects take 400 mg of caffeine 0, 3, or 6 hours before going to sleep. The study found that caffeine before bedtime had significant disruptive effects on sleep.

A systematic review gathered the results of several studies on the topic and concludes that caffeine “prolonged sleep latency, reduced total sleep time and sleep efficiency, and worsened perceived sleep quality.”

So, based on research, we can definitely say that consuming caffeine in the evening has a negative effect on sleep.

But when it comes to tea, it isn’t that simple.

Here are a few things to take into consideration:

  • Most of the studies are done with pure caffeine supplement or coffee.
  • An average cup of black tea has 50 mg of caffeine, while the doses in the studies are generally much higher (400 mg in the first study mentioned above.)
  • Black tea also contains plenty of theanine, which has a calming effect.

What about studies focused particularly on tea and sleep?

Unfortunately, there are not too many. One study from 2000 concentrated on both tea and coffee and found that compared to coffee, tea is less likely to disrupt sleep.

black tea sunset

My own experiences with drinking black tea in the evening are also similar.

Sometimes I have been working late at night and had a cup of black tea. It didn’t prevent me from falling asleep nor did it have a notable effect on sleep quality.

But there are also a few times that I had a few large cups of strong Assam tea, or one of my favorite Irish breakfast tea brands, around 9 pm. This really gave me a proper energy boost and I didn’t feel sleepy until very late.

So what is the conclusion from all of this information?

Here is the bottom line:

A cup of black tea in the evening might not ruin your sleep, but it’s still better to avoid it. If you must drink it, don’t have more than one cup.

You should also be extra careful if you are sensitive to caffeine. And remember to avoid drinking strong Assam black tea which is known to have high caffeine content.

English, Irish, and Scottish breakfast teas are blends that you might want to avoid in the evening because they often contain plenty of Assam tea.

What if You Still Want to Drink Black Tea Before Bed?

There might be times when you really want to have a cup in the nighttime. For example, black tea can relieve a sore throat, especially when you add some honey.

If you feel like you still want to drink black tea in the evening, there are ways to minimize its effect on sleep quality.

Here is what I recommend:

  • Choose a variety like Darjeeling black tea, which has less caffeine than Assam tea.
  • Steep the tea only for about 30 seconds to 1 minute so it will not be that strong.
  • Don’t drink more than one cup.

One great option is to simply choose a decaffeinated black tea.

How About Green and White Tea?

Green and white teas generally have less caffeine compared to black tea.

green tea

This means that they are a better option. However, I would still avoid drinking too many cups in the evening.

And why should you, when there are better alternatives available.

Next, let’s take a look at some caffeine-free herbal teas that can actually improve your sleep quality!

Best Teas to Drink Before Bed

I think that the best times to drink black tea are in the morning and afternoon. It can truly have an uplifting effect and increase focus and productivity.

For an evening cup, I recommend these options:

Chamomile Tea: Has a relaxing effect and is shown to improve sleep quality. This is my favorite option to drink before going to bed. I often mix dried chamomile flowers with other herbal ingredients like lavender, ginger, and peppermint.

Check out my recommended chamomile tea products for some delicious blends!

Valerian Root Tea: One of the best herbal teas for relieving insomnia and nervousness. Many studies indicate that valerian root is an effective aid for sleeping and doesn’t have any side effects.

Lavender Tea: Great option for calming down that can also help with falling asleep. It may also help with increasing the amount of deep sleep and a feeling of vitality and energy in the morning.

chamomile tea
I often drink a cup of relaxing chamomile tea before going to bed

If you want more options, check out my guide with the best teas for sleeping and relaxation.

And remember that some herbal teas, like yerba mate and guayusa, have caffeine. You should avoid them in the evening as well.

Black Tea and Sleep FAQ

Does black tea help you sleep?

We are all individuals, but for most people black tea does not help you sleep. Since it contains caffeine, it might even keep you awake or disturb sleep quality.

Yet, a cup of black tea has less caffeine than a cup of coffee making it a better option to drink in the evening. Black tea also contains theanine, which has a calming effect.

Is it okay to drink tea at night?

This depends entirely on what type of tea you are drinking.

Black tea contains a relatively high amount of caffeine so it’s not the best option. However, having one small cup of black tea might not ruin your sleep. Avoid Assam tea since it has more caffeine.

Green and white teas usually have less caffeine than black tea, which makes them better alternatives.

The best choice is an herbal tea, such as chamomile tea, which is free of caffeine and improves sleep quality.

What tea should I drink before bed?

Some of the best teas for relaxing before bedtime are chamomile tea, valerian root tea, and lavender tea.

These herbal teas are caffeine-free and may help you with falling and sleep and improving sleep quality.

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