Issues with green tea?

I'm continually finding I need to modify what I eat and drink, having now been glutenfree since December 2011. For example, it took a while to figure out that coffee didn't sit well with me, which I'm very disappointed with as I do enjoy the odd good cup of coffee/cappucino/espresso - but that's off the list.

Just recently I've been finding myself with 'gluten-like' symptoms after drinking green tea and - what spurred me into asking this question - even after Tetley's normal tea!!

I've done a little bit of research and Tetley's green tea has indeed been flagged up as a potential for cross-contamination in terms of the sacks which are used to transport the tea leaves. As in: those sacks may previously have been used for another, potentially gluten-ful, product! Obviously if tea leaves of any sort are harvested, dried and then placed into sacks which previously contained wheat/barley/any other gluten-ful item then the cross-contamination issues are massive, particularly for those of us who are seemingly more sensitive than others.

I have Dermatitis Herpetiformis and it really doesn't take much to get my skin itching and to get the little blisters to appear... I was wondering if anyone else has had any experience with these issues? I have just drunk two very tasty cups of Taiwanese green tea (imported from Taiwan by a good friend) and the itch has set in - which is what prompted this question.

I am not seeking to find gluten where it doesn't exist, I'm simply seeking to find safe food and drink options for myself so any information is most appreciated, thanks!

20 Replies

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  • That is v. Interesting! I can take all herbal teas except green and white tea.

  • Hi mg15, thanks for your reply! I've not yet met a gf person who avoids green tea so that's really interesting! Here is the link to the information that first made me stop and think about this

    gfreebythesea.me/2012/08/10...

    (if it doesn't work by clicking on it I'm assuming you can just type 'tetley green tea gluten free' into a search engine and it should come up).

    It's not just the sacks of course, it could be where they dry the leaves or where they are packaged...I'm NOT saying this is definitely the case, but it has been flagged up by Tetleys so someone out there must already be looking into this issue...

  • I have tried drinking green tea several times but found that it made me feel nauseous. It seems to be another one of those things some people can have a problem with livestrong.com/article/2953...

    I can still drink filter coffee, if it's weak.

  • Thanks Penel, fortunately my reactions are not that severe. But I'm still itching! Instead of coffee I have moved onto Prewett's chicory (certified gf) which gives a coffee-like (ish) hot drink, making a nice change from peppermint tea/rooibos/black tea...

  • i can't drink tea or coffee i also drink prewetts chicory , and i can only drink the pukka range of herbal tea

  • Can I ask what syptoms folk get when drinking coffee or cappuccino etc ?

  • Hi Maryelle, Because I have Dermatitis Herpetiformis I find that my skin rashes flare up and last longer if I'm consistently drinking coffee. I couldn't understand why I was still getting skin rashes when I was eating gluten free but still drinking coffee. Similarly with cappucino - I have no 'symptoms' as such when I'm actually drinking it or coffee, but it comes afterwards - and I notice it with (TMI, sorry!) changes to my bowel habits... I understand it must be really hard for people who don't get symptoms to know what may or may not cause problems - if I didn't see a noticeable change after drinking coffee I would still be drinking coffee! I miss it! :)

  • A lot of people who are not gluten sensitive have the same reaction to coffee, let's face it there's a reason it's a common ingredient of enemas!

  • Are you sure it's not the dairy causing the problems rather than the coffee itself. Could be lactose or casein intolerance. I've had to cut out all dairy and soya as well as they give me similar but slightly different symptoms to being glutened.

  • Hi Shonny, I never take milk in my coffee or tea, although of course there is some frothed milk in a cappucino - but I only used to have these infrequently anyway. I'm fine with dairy otherwise, I have no issues with cheese, yoghurt, quark, cottage cheese, etc etc. I've never liked the taste of milk so never drink it as a drink and I don't have cereal with milk either (of course, now I don't have 'cereal' anyway, not even gf cereal). So for me it's definitely not the dairy, but thanks for your input! I don't do soya because I don't think my body likes it.

  • Green tea leaves a metallic taste in my mouth..after about a week of one cup a day the taste is constantly there and affects how all food and drink tastes. This goes away after about a week of not having any.

    Never put that down to it potentially containing gluten, but equally I've never managed to find anyone else who has the same reaction.

  • Yes I have defiantly been gluted by Tetley Green Tea. And like you Lexy am finding that it isn't just gluten that I need to avoid. It' seems like just as you feel like you've worked everything out another food issue rears its ugly head. I am currently feeling really nauseous after eating avocado! What's that all about. It's happened before and because I love avocados so much I refused to believe they were the culprit...Good luck with your journey!

  • I found this a while ago by googling 'green tea painful joints'. Don't know if gluten may be an issue? jennascribbles.com/life-hom...

  • Hi martz62 - thanks for sharing that, it was a very interesting read! I don't have any of the joint issues or back/neck etc pain that those people seem to get. I don't get any pain at all from drinking anything. What I do seem to get with green tea and coffee is symptoms I associate with Dermetatits Herpetiformis, which is itching and then little itchy blisters. So I'm assuming I don't have an inflammation allergy to green tea and coffee, but somehow it seems my body is treating it as though it were gluten... I am fine with chicory, peppermint tea, decaff Earl Grey and even black tea (although I once was served Tetley's at a pub and I had an instant reaction! I don't buy Tetley's for home use, I usually have Twinnings). Still, it was interesting to read your link, ta! :)

  • Have you been clinically diagnosed with DH? ie biopsy.

    Coeliac do have raised histamine levels which could be aggravated if you drink black tea which tends to be high in histamine.

    I occasionally drink coffee but it can only be freshly ground, not instant or machine as there may be ingredient issues.

  • Hi pretender, I went through the whole NHS process: blood tests were 99% conclusive (I'd already been gluten free for a month) and then the two biopsies were also 99% conclusive (they waited so long to do the biopsies that I had already been gluten free for 6 months by then!) - and the consultant then sat on his hands and said "I can't give you a definitive diagnosis, because the tests are not 100% conclusive (!!!) but I think you suffer from Dermatitis Herpetiformis and here is your prescription for Dapsone". The Dapsone stopped the itching and helped clear the blistery rash (I then had a weird reaction to Dapsone when the consultant increased the dosage, so I stopped taking them, and I was by then almost 10 months gluten free). If I ingest any form of gluten I get immediate itching, followed by blistery rash, followed by stomach and bowel problems and all the associated loss of energy, mood swings etc etc etc. With green tea or coffee I get the itching and the blisters and the 'just don't feel right' reaction and loss of energy. Black tea - apart from my one experience with Tetley's - does not cause a reaction, but I don't drink it every day, nor do I drink a lot of it. Coffee definitely causes problems, to my great dismay. I've tried filter, instant, freshly ground, you name it...I really do miss it, but my body just says 'no'... just one of those things!

  • I'm pretty sensitive to gluten, but have no problems with the Suki green tea luponde, if that's any help.

    The coffee issue may well - for some - be down to what grinder cleaner the coffee shop is using: one of the more common cleaner is just green wheat grains, which can obviously then lead to gluten contamination of the coffee. I never knew this before opening my own coffee shop a year ago, and spent some time hunting for a grinder cleaner that would not make me ill, but it certainly explained why I was getting a reaction to coffee. And I no longer do react to coffee, so all good.

    hth

  • Hi Suzzlebricklane - wow, I never knew that about the grinders! I tend to get Taylor's of Harrogate for my husband (and it was the brand i used to drink). So I have no idea what the process is, of anything from transporting the beans (are the sacks gf?) to the grinding and packaging process. I suppose one could write to Taylor's and ask? Thanks for the info anyway! I'll see if I can find the Suki green tea for a comparative if nothing else! Cheers

  • Hi Lexy, can I suggest that you try an antihistamine, I use Piriton which relieves my itching and time from 17 days to 12. my max dose is 6 per day.

    Many people should also consider that some ingredients in the GF diet might be a cause, mine are the derivatives and hydroxypropylmethycellulose

  • Hi Pretender, thanks for that. I try to avoid as many medications as I can, but yes, I have used antihistamines in the past (when we were on a 3week trekking trip in Borneo I was on a daily antihistamine, and I reckon I would have been insufferable without them!) They didn't prevent any of the severa 'gluten' symptoms I experienced, but, as you mentioned, they reduced the duration of them somewhat.