Scott, D., Rycroft, J.A., Aspen, J. et al. Eur J Appl Physiol (2004) 91: 493. doi:10.1007/s00421-003-1015-z
The effect of drinking tea on hydration status and mood was studied in nine male and four female members of expeditions based at Mt. Everest base camp at an altitude of 5,345 m. Whilst exposed to altitude-cold diuresis, participants were subjected to a crossover experimental design comprising two 24-h dietary interventions. In the “tea” condition, hot brewed tea formed a major part of fluid intake, whereas in the “no-tea” condition tea was excluded from the diet. Subjects were prohibited in both cases from consuming other caffeinated beverages, caffeinated foods, and alcoholic drinks. Mean fluids ingested [mean (SE); tea=3,193 (259) ml versus no tea=3,108 (269) ml] and urine volume (tea=2,686 (276) ml versus no tea=2,625 (342) ml] were similar under both conditions. Statistical analysis found no difference in urine stimulated as a result of the tea intervention (P=0.81). Several markers of hydration status were also taken immediately pre and post each condition, including measures of urine specific gravity, urine electrolyte balance (K+, Na+), and urine colour. None of these measures indicated a difference in hydration status as a result of the dietary intervention in either the control or tea condition. A difference was, however, found in mood, with subjects reporting reduced fatigue when tea was included in the diet (P=0.005). The study shows therefore that even when drunk at high altitude where fluid balance is stressed, there is no evidence that tea acts as a diuretic when consumed through natural routes of ingestion by regular tea drinkers, but that it does have a positive effect on mood.