Why Pu Erh Tea Upsets Your Stomach And How To Prevent It

Sometimes after drinking a lot of Pu Erh tea, you may not feel well. Symptoms like nausea and an upset stomach are common when drinking too much tea at the wrong time.

Here you will learn what causes these symptoms and how you can prevent yourself from becoming nauseous and feeling ill while drinking Pu Erh tea.

SHORT ANSWER – Upset Stomach Is Caused By Chemicals

Pu Erh tea contains different chemicals that cause nausea and upset stomach when consumed in high quantities. Both oils and caffeine have a major impact on the digestive system. Depending on your diet and stomach the symptoms can be more or less severe.

To further understand how an upset stomach is caused by Pu Erh tea, how to avoid these symptoms and how you can aid yourself while experiencing this, you are welcome to keep reading.

How Tea Causes An Upset Stomach

Pu Erh tea is rich in caffeine and therefore very good at keeping you awake and active. But with everything that has a positive effect always comes a negative one too. Caffeine (and some other oils and chemicals) is a major component of all teas derived from Camellia Sinensis which is the plant all true teas are made from. Caffeine has been found to trigger acid production in the stomach and can, therefore, cause nausea and heartburn.

A more intense feeling of nausea and an upset stomach will be caused when the produced acid can not be neutralized or diluted in the stomach. This is always the case when you drink a lot of caffeine on an empty stomach.

What You Can Do To Prevent Nausea

Eat Beforehand

When you eat beforehand, the produced acid will be attacking the food in your stomach and not the stomach itself. Ideally, you should avoid fatty or acidic foods and opt-in for more healthy foods that contain lots of water or can neutralize the acid.

A good example of alkaline food is banana. Any food made from grains, like bread, oatmeal or cornflakes will be able to help with your condition. Vegetables will also have a calming effect on your stomach through the high percentage of water.

Generally, you also should avoid processed and foods containing large amounts of sugar. High sugar content in your food may encourage the growth of unwanted bacteria in your bowels and highly processed foods may contain chemicals that further irritate your stomach. You are better off eating more healthy and natural food choices to avoid problems.

Drink More Water

Drinking water or any non-acidic beverage will dilute the acid produced. When you drink Pu Erh tea – or another tea with higher caffeine content – in large amounts, the contained caffeine will dehydrate you.

By drinking a sufficient amount of water before tea consumption your body will be able to flush out the caffeine and other chemicals, which is why you almost always get an urge to go to the toilet after drinking tea.

Avoid Antacids!

It may sound logical to take antacids when you experience stomach aches from too much caffeine, but DO NOT TAKE antacids as a remedy. While these will neutralize some of the acid that was produced, it will also trigger the production of more acid. This will lead to more pain and nausea. You will be better off with a sufficient amount of water and some light food as described above.

Lower Water Temperature Or Less Leaves

Since the described aches are mostly caused by the intake of too much caffeine, the most logical step is to cut down the consumption. Since caffeine is very soluble in water, the caffeine from the tea leaves will dissolve into your tea at both boiling and low water temperature.

You will not be able to reduce the caffeine content through water temperature. To cut down the caffeine consumption, you could use less Pu Erh tea leaves with longer steeping times, which might as a side effect result in a more complex brew, too.

Another option would be to share the tea with someone you enjoy spending time with or even split your tea session into two.

Add An Extra Rinse

While most people will discard the first infusion, which will be only a few seconds long, you might want to discard even a longer first infusion or second infusion. Since caffeine is very soluble in water, most of the caffeine will be dissolved within the first few infusions.

The same is true both for bitter and floral tasting compounds contained in the tea leaves. If you are willing to experience one less infusion of your tea, you can heavily reduce your caffeine intake.


You may have experienced nausea and an upset stomach after drinking large amounts of Pu Erh tea or tea in general. This condition is caused by the consumption of too much caffeine through the tea.

The caffeine and some other contained chemicals will cause your digestive system to produce more acid. The acid attacks the stomach itself and causes these symptoms.

To prevent or remedy stomach aches caused by caffeine, you should drink large amounts of water and eat non-acidic and healthy foods like bananas or milk.

You should also avoid antacids, which will likely cause more acid to be produced and further cause irritation. Lastly using fewer tea leaves to brew your tea will help you consume less caffeine and reduce your problems. If you want a stronger brew, you can always steep for longer.

Related Questions

What Other Teas Can Cause Nausea Or An Upset Stomach?

Since all true teas contain caffeine to some extent, you will always experience nausea and stomach issues when drinking large amounts of tea on an empty stomach.

Teas that contain less caffeine are those that are heavily roasted and some aged teas. It is better to prevent stomach issues through preparation than it is to avoid specific types of tea.

Why Do I React More To Caffeine Than Other People?

If you have extreme problems with caffeine resulting in common symptoms like nausea, stomach issues or in some cases even diarrhea, you may suffer caffeine intolerance.

This is a certain type of food intolerance that has the stomach specifically get irritated by caffeine. A more common problem is a generally irritable bowel that will react to too much food over short periods or certain fatty/oily foods in general.

There’s a lot more to learn about tea! If you are looking for a good place to start, I highly recommend the book Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties. You can check its current price on Amazon here.