; Cwyn's Death By Tea: Tea and Dehydration ;

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Tea and Dehydration

Right now I’m exhausted. Three days ago my healthy eight month old kitten suddenly fell ill with a fever, very ill. A quick trip to the vet for fluids and an antibiotic shot, and I stayed up all night feeding basic hydration solution every hour or two with a small medicine dropper. He kept trying to get up and move, and getting him back in his bed wasn’t easy. Along with that I hardly had time to pay attention to my tea. I drank a lot of it just to stay awake, and found myself thinking about dehydration. First off, a recipe for a base re-hydration solution:

Basic Hydration Solution

1 quart water (946 ml)

1 tablespoon white sugar (12.5g)

 1 tsp table salt (6g)

Shake or stir and decant into a bottle. Keep refrigerated. Daily, a cat requires liquid at about ¼ cup or 60 ml per 5 lbs (2.26 kilos) of body weight. So that means about 2 tsp (20 ml) dose every hour or two for my 10 lb kitten (yes he’s a big boy at 8 months).  I used a small medicine dropper and put a bit at a time inside his cheek so he could lap and swallow without choking. Anyway, this is a basic recipe and no different from Pedialyte at the stores, but without the preservatives and cherry flavoring. I tasted it myself and didn’t taste much of anything. It works for people too, you can add a bit of fruit juice to make it taste like something.

Green Tea and Dehydration

People turn to green tea as an addition to a healthy lifestyle, and this can include copious amounts of exercise. Drinking a lot of green tea and sweating can dehydrate a person of minerals. Some of the sheng puerh teas I drink cause profuse sweating.

I’ve noticed that I’m somewhat dehydrated when I wake up and my back hurts. Drinking a bit of water before getting up helps put some fluid around my spine and I feel much better. Tea is a diuretic, and along with a prescription diuretic I might need to replace minerals.


This is one of the first minerals lost in dehydration. Stores have so many “energy” drinks today, as well as “electrolyte” replacement drinks, but so few have any potassium. The best way to get this is from foods like

1.      Avocado—the highest potassium food item.
2.      Sweet potato—next in line.
3.      Spinach.

Avocado and sweet potato yam
are good for potassium replacement.
I’m not big on avocado myself. Avocados don’t grow in my climate so any we get here tend to be small, hard and yellow. Bananas and potatoes are further down the list, even behind cow’s milk for potassium. Sweet potato is an easy choice.

Sweet potato Fries

1 large sweet potato (serves 2)

1 teaspoon of olive oil (about 5 ml)

Salt and pepper to taste.

Scrub the potato, peel if desired and slice into small long julienne “fries” about 1 cm or ¼ inch in width.

Cut fries in bite size sticks.
Toss in a bowl with a spoon or generous splash of olive oil until they are covered. 

Don't skimp on the oil, you need it for browning.
Place on baking sheet so the fries don’t touch one another. Sprinkle salt or other seasoning. 

The key to great baked fries is don't  let them touch another fry.
Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees (200C). Turn each of the fries at 15 minutes. A tea tongs works nicely for turning fries! They should have a brown and crispy exterior. You can toss with cinnamon and drizzle with maple syrup at breakfast. Here I’ve served with scrambled eggs and a bit of kimchee. My son likes ketchup with his fries.

I don't like food photos myself.
Plate for Dear Son.

Magnesium is lost through sweating or diuretics. This is one of the few minerals which is absorbed effectively through skin. My sister turned me on to magnesium oil spray. It’s easy to apply after a shower, and she taught me to spray it on the front of my lower calves (legs).

Magnesium Oil Spray
My kitten scampered off with the sprayer top.
If you are short on magnesium, you will feel a stinging for a few minutes. The oil is a nice moisturizer, and I'm glad that this is one mineral I can replace without swallowing anything.

Of course I didn’t put any of this on my kitten. I didn’t find out what caused his high fever. He wrestles hard with my big Maine Coon cat, so maybe he got an injury or had a virus. Luckily after just 24 hours, my kitten got up and his fever broke.


Iron is not necessarily lost through dehydration or green tea, but I mention it because tea pots are one way to supplement trace amounts of iron. This is very important for women, so I want to write a little here.

A century ago before iron-rich foods were readily available, women struggled with persistent anemia. Anemia is one of the first diagnoses and tests doctors performed back then. Doctors checked for and assumed anemia in menstruating women because most women had it. Nowadays with the food distribution system, doctors no longer even think to test women. My doctor found I had persistent anemia from a blood panel when she wasn’t even looking for anemia. Doctors don’t think of it when they see what appears to be a healthy young woman in the office. Yet actress Brittany Murphy died at age 28 or so from a cold and walking pneumonia. She wasn’t taking large doses of medication, but the autopsy found anemia. Her blood and body had no strength to fight the infection.

Iron-rich foods are ever more expensive, and many people are foregoing red meat for either health or philosophical reasons. Women at both sides of the economic spectrum might not get the iron they need, either because they can’t afford iron-rich foods or choose to not eat them. I did not care for red meat much in my younger days after growing up on a heavy red meat diet, so clearly I wasn’t getting enough iron in my diet when I got an anemia diagnosis. An iron supplement was an easy fix.

A tea pot like this one from potter Inge Nielsen is made with iron-rich clay. The interior is not glazed. 

Tenmoku glaze iron-grog clay pot
by Inge Nielsen, Etsy
Tea will leach tiny trace amounts of iron from this teapot over time. Along with a healthy diet, a tea pot like this is a great idea for women. Men on the other hand do not need to worry so much about supplements as they will generally get all they need via diet or using cast iron cooking pans. Therefore men will not necessarily benefit from using an iron clay tea pot.

My kitten started eating again and drinking water. He thinks he’s well enough to play hard, but he’s still a little wobbly on his back legs. I stayed up with him another night to hand feed him wet food and make sure he was drinking water on his own before I slept. Now I’m very tired and somewhat dehydrated myself! He wants to be on my lap all the time now, he is just so happy to feel better. I’m $100 poorer, but at least I have my healthy kitten back.

Yes, those are tea crocks behind him.
Green tea is not a hydration liquid but is often sold as an exercise drink or healthy drink. While green tea has some antioxidants, it is not a substitute for plain water when the body is thirsty, nor is tea a source of rehydration from sweating, or during exercise. Enjoy your tea this New Year’s season and drink your water too!


  1. Hi Cwyn, remember, that the polyphenols from tea (and cofee) blocks more that 80% of iron intake. I doubt, that iron leached from a jug has any effect.

    1. Then I assume you don't believe any clay pot such as Yixing adds minerals to tea, but in fact they do. Tea is slightly acidic and over time draws minerals from the pot in the process of giving back. The effect may indeed be slight, however a vegan requires 1.8x daily iron through diet or other means compared to meat eaters. We lose small amounts of iron in feces, urine and through skin as well. A heavy menstruating woman is likely to supplement.

  2. 1) How much iron is leeched from a pot in a sesion?
    2) How high is the absorbability of that non-organic bounded iron from the pot?
    3) How much from the small ammout od poorly absorbable iron from the pot can you absorb, when 80 % of it is blocked by the tea polyphenols?

    Therefore i think, that iron from the pot has prakticaly zero influence on your daily iron income.

    1. Iron absorption affected by tea is non-heme iron. Women and vegans can be deficient in heme iron, derived from meat, which tea does not inhibit. The same questions about minerals from clay can be asked of any Yixing or other clay pot. Trace amounts do leach over time.

      Total iron is impacted by everything consumed over the course of the day. We eat foods in addition to drinking tea. The big picture, the whole, is determined by a doctor doing a blood panel. If you are a woman you need to make sure the whole diet gives what you need. Tea pot minerals are certainly no harm to anyone.

    2. It looks like tea polyphenols inhibits heme iron absorbtion too: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306181/

      The tea adwisory tell us: "Tea drinking mainly influences the absorption of non-haem iron as haem iron is relatively unaffected by tea."


      Well, the question is, what means "relatively unaffected".

      But thank you for the info, the difference between the impact of tea on the absorption of heme and non-heme iron is new to me.

    3. And which beans contain iron, Del Monte or is Bush's better? Does the soil matter and how much, southern or northern? A never-ending rabbit hole of questions.

      Here is the big picture, which really matters in my opinion: menstruating and pregnant women can be, and often are anemic and THIS is determined by a blood panel. This is what matters. The big picture is not dying as Brittany Murphy did.

      And I do not wish curative iron supplements on anyone, and hope I never need take one again. They wreck the stomach and intestines with pain, and the taste of iron in the back of the mouth upwards from the stomach is present all the time. Sheng puerh is a no-go for the few hours of relief a day that a meal provides, maybe no tea at all and not just because of inhibition but because the stomach can't take it.

      I would do anything at all to get iron in a myriad of ways to avoid taking iron supplements. We know that unglazed and non-enameled cookware leaches iron. It is one way of obtaining trace iron. We know that unglazed clay teapots leach minerals as well. Foods are the most important. I prefer any of these to avoid taking supplements again, wouldn't wish them on any woman but better than death in the end.

  3. Happy to read your kitten is feeling better!

  4. Glad the adorable fluff pile is doing better! And thanks for mentioning that magnesium spray, I need to get me some so I don't have to swallow those massive nasty pills!

  5. Another interesting article Cwyn. My understanding is that tea is not a diuretic. See the study referenced here: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-caffeinated-tea-dehydrating/. Researchers gave subjects equal amounts of either black tea or water, and measured their output, finding no meaningful difference between the two. Of course a sheng that makes you sweat is another story. I'm curious what makes you think tea is generally dehydrating - Is there something you know that I don't?

    1. I probably drink more tea than anyone should. A liter of sheng a day. That doesn't include morning hongcha.

  6. Hi Cwyn
    In the U.K, flour has to be fortified (by law) by the adding of trace amounts of iron and three other supplements, including calcium. Without this fortification the diet of some sectors of the population, particularly women of child bearing age, would be deficient in iron. With the addition of iron to flour, it is thought that the vast majority of the population (about 98% I think) get at least enough of these essential nutrients.
    The regulations were introduced after the war when, by popular demand, highly refined flour replaced less refined products in the national diet. The problem is essentially one of the industrialisation of the the food production process and a move away from natural 'whole' foods.
    For many people a solution is to eat more products naturally rich in iron, such as whole grains and some green veggies. Of course, cost and other dietary conditions such as gluten intolerance may be a problem, and there will always be some individuals for whom iron deficiencies are likely and blood tests are advisable. However, I think that for most of us we needn't worry if we eat a good, balanced diet with plenty of unprocessed foods.
    Perhaps our motto should be 'Drink Tea - Eat Greens'