Sunday, October 05, 2008

Tea and Pregnancy

I had a blog reader recently ask me the following:

Would you be so kind as to recommend a tea that I might enjoy? I'm a long-time serious coffee drinker and have to stop for pregnancy. I'd like to have a cup of tea in the morning with no caff or at least less than coffee (100+ mgs) a little would probably be helpful. I know a lot about selecting good coffee but little to none about selecting good tea.
What a great question! Below are my thoughts, and I'd love for others who prefer caffeine-free (or light) teas to contribute their thoughts, too.

Consider Rooibos
First, I would recommend that you give Rooibos a try. Rooibos (ROY-boss) is a naturally caffeine-free alternative to tea. It's from an African "red bush" plant. It's become very popular in the US in the past few years and is quite flavorful. I find that it has a slightly nutty flavor. It's not truly "tea" because it does not come from the camellia sinensis bush. However, it has many qualities of tea, such as a pleasing flavor and aroma, and blending well with herbs, spices and fruit oils. One of my friends who has been recently pregnant highly recommends this tea.

If you have a natural foods store (your local coop, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, etc.) or tea shop/retailer (local tea room, Teavana, Tealuxe, etc.) near you, it will be easy to find loose Rooibos (sometimes called red tea). If these sources are not near you, look for bagged varieties from Republic of Tea or other brands.

Go for herbals
Also consider herbal teas (also called herbal infusions or tisanes). Again, these technically are not tea because they don't contain any of the tea leaf itself. They are made from dried herbs (mint, chamomile, etc), roots, berries and spices (cinnamon, ginger, etc.). There are many varieties to choose from. I like the Celestial Seasonings brand. Do read this article from the American Pregnancy Association for its advice on consuming herbal teas.

If you would prefer a true cup of tea, I suggest you go for the double-steeping method. Caffeine is highly water soluble. In the first steeping, a cup of tea gives up ~60% of its caffeine. Simply drain this first steeping, and reuse the leaves for a second steep. (Loose leaves work better than tea bags for this double-steeping.) I can't give you exact amounts of caffeine per cup, as it varies greatly by the tea itself, but that second steeping will contain significantly less caffeine than the first.

Decaf teas
Decaf teas are another option, tho they are last on my list for two reasons. 1 - The name is misleading. Realize that it still has trace amounts of caffeine in it. No tea is truly caffeine-free, even decaf ones. 2 - Some methods for making decaf tea use very harsh chemicals. Not what you want to put into your body at this time. Look for the "CO2" process.

OK, those are my ideas - what tips do the rest of you have to offer?


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Anonymous said...

What a great site... I came across this comment about a good tea for pregnant women and thought I'd give my two cents. (I like doing that, you see:)...

I really loved Chamomile when I was pregnant with my now 9 year old son. I'm actually drinking it now, but am not pregnant.

It's such a soothing, calming tea that has medicinal purposes for relieving any stomach issues (not that pregnancy is an "issue" by any means!)...

I agree, rooibos is another great pregnancy tea... The taste is nutty and slightly sweet and also is a healthy alternative to caffeinated options.

Congrats on your pregnancy and the best of luck!



Philigry said...

hello there,
I would love to share what I did! I love chamonile tea while I was pregnant with a drop of honey. I think the health food stores are the best place to find yummy tea, that is still good for mommy and baby.
They also have a great tea out there to help with morning sickness!
Thanks fo rasking my opinion, steph!

Anonymous said...

I blogged about this when I was pregnant:

The short answer is Raspberry Leaf Tea. It's not just a "safe" tea for during pregnancy, but it's actually good specifically for pregnancy - it tones the uterus and prepares it for birth. It also helps your body get back into shape after the birth.

Rooibos and Chamomile, as already mentioned, are also great. I also made an infusion of ginger with honey a few times a week. Too much ginger is not a good thing, but in moderation it's fine (not to mention so tasty). Steeping fennel works well for upset tummies.

By the way, chamomile and fennel are also good for babies. And I'll start giving Rooibos to my son before long.

Steph said...

Thank you to all my wise commenters!

Linda Jennings said...

Great advice, Stephanie!

Alice said...

Great advice, Steph! I agree with every word. For someone who isn't a certified tea lover, there are lots of substitutions as you mentioned. Personally, I'd go the double-brew method because nothing can take the place of real tea. I'll be in big trouble if I ever have to give it up.

Sofie's Blog said...

Wow! Great detailed information in your posting and wonderfully thoughtful comments. I had forgotten that I used to drink Chamomile, I'll pick it up again now. I'll also try some of the other suggestions. I'm going to look for Rooibos today.
Thank you so much.

Joyce said...

Red Raspberry is very good for pregnancy....I used it all the tea form and in capsule form with my first child. It's just good tasting overall anyhow.
See ya,

Anonymous said...

Thank you Steph,
Its always nice to read about my favourite tea.