The Question of Tea

After a long day when I need to relax or while reading a book, I drink a cup of warm tea. Typically there isn’t a day where I don’t drink one to two cups of tea as it’s so much of my afternoon and nightly routine, especially in the winter.

When first diagnosed with a nickel food allergy, or systemic nickel allergy syndrome, I was given the long list of foods to avoid. The list only included excluding tea from my diet if it was dispensed using a stainless steel tea filter basket, strainer or infuser. I was so relieved to know I could still drink tea without aggravating my nickel food allergy. Plus drinking lots of water daily helps flush our body from harmful toxins, like nickel.
However like everything else, I continually read the ingredients of the tea I purchase. Many of the loose leaf teas don’t include soy, but unfortunately several of the bagged teas do contain soy or soy lecithin. Why, some companies use an emulsifier to preserve dried natural tea leaves, I will never understand.

I love to drink herbal tea every single day, both as hot tea and as iced tea in my glass sun tea container.

My tea brand of preference is Celestial Seasonings. I love how their teas are sealed without using any stainless steel staples or pieces of strings. The herbal tea flavors Celestial Seasonings’ sells that I drink are Chamomile,  Honey Vanilla Chamomile, Cinnamon Apple Spice, Country Peach, Lemon Zinger, Peppermint, Sleepytime, and Tension Tamer (which has both vitamin B6 & B12). Some these teas include the ingredient “natural flavors” which I know many of you avoid, but it hasn’t cause me any issues.

From time to time I’ll drink green teas in the early afternoon, but I primarily drink herbal teas. If I want to drink loose leaf teas, I use a three piece ceramic mug purchased at a local Chinese store. In the summer I make iced tea by placing 3-4 tea bags in my glass sun tea container with a plastic spignot.

Boiling hot water on the stove top I use the nickel free glass Medelco Stovetop Whistling Kettle. The plastic handle is entirely nickel free, but there is a stainless steel rim around the outside of the glass  to secure the handle in place. Other notable features of this kettle are that it’s lightweight, dishwasher safe, holds up to 12 cups of water and is affordably priced at $9.99. Personally I like watching the water boil. When the water is fully boiled it doesn’t whistle too loud, so when I use it I stay close by the kitchen. You must remove the plastic lid to pour and I caution against placing it on or near the hot burner, as it would probably melt.

Author Ashimav D. Sharma who writes frequently about nickel allergies and the low nickel diet writes how tea can be both high in nickel and also interfere with the body’s absorption nickel.[1] Similarly both Penn State’s Dermatology Department and “What Allergy” blogger Ruth Holroyd list tea on the okay column for foods you can drink, as long as if it’s not from a metal dispenser.

Three piece nickel free ceramic Chinese mug great for loose leaf teas.

Purchasing nickel free products to facilitate making and enjoying tea enables me to drink tea often without causing my body to negatively react. If you drink tea often or have a favorite tea brand I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

[1] Sharma AD. Low nickel diet in dermatology. Indian J Dermatology. 2013;58:240. [PMC free article][PubMed].

  1. Thanks for this information! I LOVE tea, but wondered if it might be problematic. I boil my water on the stove top with a stainless steel tea kettle — should I be using glass??

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thanks for your comment. I used a stainless steel kettle for a long time. However there is research about nickel allergies that argues against using stainless steel cookware, especially when it’s heated, as the nickel can be leached from the cookware into our food. That’s one of the main reasons why I stopped using a stainless steel kettle to boil water for my tea.
      Warm regards,

  2. Hi Christy: I’m enjoying your blog; I’m a long-time sufferer, it got really bad in the past 10 years, but recently read about nickel in the diet and am trying it now to see if it helps. I also have Reynaud’s. I was wondering if the very popular stainless steel drink tumblers everyone has now should be avoided. I generally only use it for cold beverages, but sometimes coffee too. I definitely won’t do the coffee in it anymore, but what about the cold drinks, mostly just water. I love how it keeps cold so long, it’s wonderful for us Floridians. Thanks!

    1. Hi Joyce,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation of my blog! I used to use a stainless steel kettle to heat up my hot water for tea and stainless to-go mugs. I switched to a glass kettle and plastic to-go mugs because I felt it probably wasn’t best to be drinking hot drinks or water boiled in stainless steel, especially when I have such a severe nickel allergy.
      Personally I’ve never used one of the stainless steel drink tumblers, but I imagine it could be impacting your nickel allergy, depending on how often you use it. Hopefully there’s another awesome option that could be used to keep your cold drinks cold for extensive periods of time!
      Warm regards,

  3. Hi Christy,
    I always knew I had a nickel allergy but never realized it was in foods until my dermatologist told me after a patch test. Turns out, I appears to be what’s causing a lot of my health problems. I would always get sharp pains in my chest or abdomen after eating beans, hot cocoa, oatmeal, soy milk, lettuce, etc..and I never knew the connection until now. So now I’m trying to navigate what I can and can’t eat and am so glad I stumbled upon your blog.
    Celestial Seasonings is my favorite tea, especially the Watermelon Lime Zinger. It’s never given me sharp pains but I’ll need to pay attention and see if it tends to aggravate my eczema. I read one thing saying that all red teas are high in nickel. Do you know anything about that and/or have you tried that particular flavor before? I’m hoping that even if most red teas are high in nickel, that this one isn’t since watermelon apparently isn’t…

    1. Hi Julie,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website! Experiencing stomach pain is the worst, as it can ruin the enjoyment of eating. Most of the time my stomach hurts when I eat too much dairy or high fiber foods, like lettuce. Otherwise, I haven’t really noticed a correlation between high nickel foods and stomach pain. I will be more mindful about it now.
      I have had rooibos teas, which through your comment, learned are red teas. I tend to steep my tea longer than the tea professionals recommend, so I don’t drink a lot of rooibos tea. Whereas, I love hibiscus teas. I’ve never tried the Celestial Seasonings Watermelon Lime Zinger, but it sounds delicious and the ingredients appear to be low in nickel! I’ll have to try it the next time I’m shopping for new teas!
      Warm regards,

  4. I always thought green tea is high in nickel. Good thing it doesn’t bother you. Green tea extract always bothers me.

  5. Hi,
    I don’t have a nickel allergy but just purchased tea canisters that indicate they are probably made out of nickel or have nickel in them. Do you know if it’s safe to put loose tea in the canisters or if I should first put the tea in a plastic bag prior to storing in the tea canisters? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks so much!
    Cindy Shields

    1. Hi Cindy,
      That’s awesome you don’t have a nickel allergy. I can’t speak to whether or not your metal tea canister is “safe.” Plenty of people use metal tea canisters, some are more susceptible than others in developing a nickel allergy over time the more they are exposed to nickel. Typically nickel leaches out of our cookware when heated. A cool metal tea canister sounds like it would be an alright option, unless you heated it up in the canister.
      Warm Regards,

  6. Hi, I am slowly weaning away from coffee and got on with the Newman’s Own green tea bags. They are cheap, and of course satisfy the other needs, social, and nutritional. But I came down with significant eczema this year and now read conflicting data re: nickel content green tea. Is there another variation of tea I can use at similar price point, $4.00 per 50 bags, that is low in nickel, and not have any known side effects? Or is the Green Tea actually ok as some sources have it ?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ray,
      I am able to drink loose leaf and pre-bagged green tea, like Bigelow Classic Green Tea and Tazo Refresh Green Tea or Jasmine tea. Matcha teas tend to be higher in nickel and teas that include soy as an ingredient or tea strained using a stainless steel strainer.
      I hope that helps.

    1. Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your comment. I am able to tolerate ice cream, dairy, sugar and vanilla. I personally avoid a lot of dairy from cow’s milk because it gives me acne and sometimes irritates my stomach, if I over do it! I don’t believe it’s related to my nickel allergy. I do love ice cream and creamy soups!
      I don’t classify certain foods as good or bad, but as either being higher or lower in nickel. What’s tricky about this allergy, is that what works for me could cause you issues. I was told to keep a food journal corresponding with my symptoms to truly find out what works for myself.
      Warm regards,

  7. Hi I’ve been plagued by a nickel or just plan metal all together allergy since I was about 16. I am currently in an outbreak that has lasted more than a year. Any info you can give would be most helpful.

    1. Hi Tracey,
      There could be a possibility your nickel allergy is now a systemic allergy and you’re reacting internally when you eat foods higher in nickel. There’s a lot of great information about my nickel food allergy and other links when you’re first trying to determine if your nickel allergy may be systemic on that page.
      I hope that helps. Warm regards,

  8. Thanks so much for the tips, just ordered a glass kettle. Just a heads up, though, celestial seasonings tested high in pesticides (along with Lipton and several other big brands).

    1. Hi Leah,
      Thanks for your comment. I didn’t know about Celestial Seasoning teas and other’s testing high in pesticides. I’ll have to look into some organic tea options. I hope you love your glass kettle like I do!
      Warm regards,

  9. Hi Christy,,
    I’ve been learning so much from your blog in the last 48 hours since finding out that I’m allergic to cobalt. The two metals are similar but I can’t seem to find much on the web about cobalt high foods without being redirected to pages containing information on nickel allergy. In my patch test I did not come up positive for Nickel allergy, only cobalt and paraban mix. I’ve had horrific ecxcema all over my body on and off (mostly on) for the last 3 years and my dermatologist just wants me to go on Dupixint and take the steroid creams to control it. Through my own research I’m seeing how it’s probably all due to ingesting cobalt through food ( I eat a daily diet of oats, nuts, pulses and leafy greens!) , and in the brown shade of boxed hair dye I use monthly and even possibly from the stainless steel electric tea kettle I use throughout the day to make tea and boil water for drinking. Any suggestions on this cobalt allergy and if and how it relates to a Nickle allergy would be highly appreciated as I’ve lost all hope in my doctor. I’m covered in a rash and woke up this week with the skin on my face dry, flaky and scaly and eyes swollen. Skin around neck, back and shoulders is super dry and flaky too and looks just like leather. Since yesterday I have stopped the oats, nuts and leafy greens and my itching has already gotten better, but my skin is still a mess. Any advice?

    1. Hi Siobhan,
      Thanks for your comment and appreciation for my website. There are many who, like you, are both allergic to nickel and cobalt. Unfortunately, I don’t know about what foods to avoid when you’re allergic to cobalt. I think there are some foods both high in nickel and cobalt that could be useful. Changing out your cookware could also help over time. I don’t know if you use Facebook, but there’s a private group you may find useful called “cobalt allergy help.” Reducing cosmetic products that contain fragrances and other chemicals couldn’t hurt and is recommended for anyone with eczema. The low nickel diet tends to take some time before signs of improvement appear. Perhaps even a couple days without oatmeal and other foods being high in nickel could be promising. 
      Warm regards,

    1. Hi Nicjs,
      Thanks for your comment. The nickel content of tea varies greatly. Generally speaking if you use metal in the heating/drinking process it’s going to add more nickel. I can’t speak to the exact nickel content in any product. Some folks have more luck with loose leaf teas or green or herbal teas than black teas. I also drink coffee and write about it in this post. The tricky thing about this allergy is that it can be very individual, meaning some react more than others to different foods/beverages.
      Warm regards,

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