Does Sweet Tea Stain Your Teeth?

Sweet tea ranks high on the list of popular beverages in America. To make sweet tea, black tea is usually brewed and then sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners while still hot. The mixture is then chilled and served over ice or hot.

Considering the drink’s popularity, many ask: does sweet tea stain teeth?

The answer is yes. Sweet tea can potentially stain teeth. Like with iced tea, the tannins and pigments in sweet tea can cause staining on tooth enamel over time. In addition, sugar in your tea can increase the risk of tooth decay and other dental issues. 

There are several ways to reduce the staining effects of sweet tea, including drinking through a closed lid or straw or rinsing your mouth with water after consumption.

Let’s get into more detail about why sweet tea stains teeth.

Why Sweet Tea Stains Teeth?

Sweet tea can potentially stain teeth due to the presence of tannins and pigments in black tea, which is normally used for sweet tea: 

  • Tannins. Over time, the natural compounds known as tannins in tea leaves and other plants can cause discoloration of tooth enamel by binding to proteins.
  • Chromogens. Chromogens are compounds found in tea that can contribute to teeth staining. The presence of these compounds gives many food and drinks (like tea) their characteristic yellow, brown, or orange color. Chromogens can bind to tooth enamel and cause discoloration over time.
  • Acids. Tea acidity refers to the pH level of tea. Tannic, oxalic, and citric acids are organic acids in tea that contribute to its natural acidity. Factors such as tea type, growing conditions, and processing methods can affect the exact level of acidity in tea. In general, black teas are typically more acidic compared to green or white teas. Acid reflux or heartburn can be caused by the high acidity levels in tea, particularly in certain individuals. Drinking tea in moderation is typically safe for most people and is unlikely to result in any adverse effects related to acidity.

The combination of tannins, chromogens, and moderate acidity (average pH level between 4.9-5.5) of black tea makes sweet tea more likely to cause staining than other tea or beverages.

If I Use Other Than Black Tea for My Sweat Tea, Will It Still Stain My Teeth?

The presence of high amounts of chromogens in black tea can lead to teeth staining, but other teas, like herbal or white, generally have lower concentrations and are unlikely to cause similar effects.

If you’re looking to make sweet tea with less potential for teeth staining, consider using one of these alternative tea options:

  1. Peppermint tea: Steeping peppermint in hot water is a simple and caffeine-free way to enjoy this herb’s refreshing and invigorating qualities in a delicious tea. In addition, it’s recognized for its ability to calm and soothe the digestive system.
  2. Rooibos tea: Rooibos is a South African herb often called red tea due to its rich color. It has a slightly sweet and nutty taste and is naturally caffeine-free.
  3. White tea: White tea originates from the Camellia sinensis plant. With minimal processing and low tannin levels, white tea is a gentle and refreshing option for those looking for a tea that won’t stain their teeth.

Even though white and herbal teas have lower tannin levels than black tea, it’s still possible for them to contribute to teeth staining if consumed excessively or without proper oral hygiene. 

How to Prevent Sweet Tea From Staining My Teeth?

Prevent sweet tea from leaving stains on your teeth with these helpful tips:

  1. Use a straw: Using a straw can reduce the likelihood of sweet tea staining your teeth by minimizing contact.
  2. Rinse with water: To eliminate any residue left on your teeth, rinse your mouth with water after consuming sweet tea.
  3. Brush regularly: Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste can help remove surface stains before they can set in.
  4. Add milk or cream: Consider adding milk to your sweet tea if you intend to serve it on ice. Milk can help prevent tannins from sticking to teeth. The protein casein in milk prevents tannins from sticking to tooth enamel.
  5. Add abrasive foods to your diet: Abrasive foods such as apples, carrots, and celery have a crunchy texture that can help scrub away surface stains on teeth. However, they are ineffective at removing deeper stains caused by certain foods and drinks.


Does sweet tea stain your teeth? Yes, its high levels of chromogens, tannins, and acids make it likely to cause staining.

To reduce the risk of teeth staining from sweet tea, use straws or add milk to protect against tannin binding. Additionally, brushing with fluoride toothpaste and eating crunchy fruits and vegetables can help remove surface stains before they can set in.

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