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Can Tea Cause Hives or Itching of the Skin?

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Can Tea Cause Hives or Itching of the Skin?
Some people may experience hives or itchiness after drinking a cup of tea. Photo Credit: Hue/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images

Tea is one the most widely consumed beverages in the world. It's a common food allergen, but it may cause an allergic reaction in some people that includes hives and itchiness. If you're allergic to tea, the best way to prevent the annoyance and getting sick is to avoid the food that causes the allergy. Consult your doctor if you suspect you're allergic to tea.

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Tea Allergy

Tea generally refers to beverages made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which includes black tea, green tea, white tea and oolong tea. If you have an allergy to tea, it can be from any component in the tea. However, the Georgia Institute of Technology reports that it's usually the caffeine and tannin, although the catechins and volatile oils may also be to blame.

Allergy Symptoms

How you feel after you drink a cup of tea may vary. Common allergic reactions not only include hives and itchy skin but also eye irritation and tearing, runny nose, sneezing, difficulty breathing, upset stomach, diarrhea, tingling in the mouth, swelling of the throat or asthma.

Even if your symptoms are mild, you should avoid drinking tea if you have an allergy. Allergic reactions can get progressively worse, which can be dangerous, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

What to Avoid

If drinking tea is making you itch, it shouldn't be too difficult to avoid. In addition to steering clear of the different varieties of tea, you'll also want to avoid iced tea, both fresh and bottled. Although chai tea is made with a variety of spices, one of the main ingredients is black tea, so you'll need to avoid this tea as well. You may also need to review the ingredients on tea blends, which may contain herbs but also leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant.

Herbal Tea Allergy

Herbal teas may also be a source of irritation. For example, dandelion, which may be found in herbal blends used for weight loss, is a member of the ragweed family. If you're allergic to the flowers in this family, which includes daisies and marigolds, you may also be allergic to the tea that contains this herb. You may have a harder time determining the specific cause of your hives in an herbal tea if you're drinking a blend. Consult your doctor if you have a reaction to a tea you're drinking to help you identify the cause.

Added Ingredients

There's also a possibility that some of the ingredients added to tea may be causing hives or itchy skin. Milk, for example, is one of the most common food allergens and is often added to tea. Or you may be using a plant-based milk, such as soy and almond milk, which are also common allergens Also, lemon or your sweetener might cause side effects.

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