Are there critters in my tea?
November 4, 2016 8:04 AM   Subscribe

(Spoiler alert: The answer is probably yes, but I'm curious about what kind.) I always keep some iced passion tea/lemonade around in my eternal effort to cut back on Diet Coke. I make it by heating the water, tossing in the big teabag and letting it brew for anywhere from 10-30 minutes, then pouring it over ice with the lemonade and sticking it in the fridge. It lasts a few days. The other day I forgot about the tea and accidentally left it sitting out overnight - without taking the teabag out and putting in the ice.

I found it the next day, shrugged and said "hey, extra strong tea, cool" and made it anyway. Like an idiot, I failed to make a connection between that and the stomachache I've had the last few days. (I drink the stuff all the time and it's always been fine.) It may be a total coincidence, or it may be the tea.

I'm wondering what kind of pathogens, if any, I may have welcomed to a new and tasty home. Or if maybe the tea is just too strong? I have googled away, but most of what I can find refers to leaving tea out after removing the bag/leaves, or leaving it in the fridge, or leaving it out but it's already iced, etc.

And yes, it will be going down the sink. I'm asking mostly out of curiosity at this point. :-)
posted by CrazyGabby to Food & Drink (5 answers total)
This article is primarily about the dangers of sun tea, but I think it has some of the info you are looking for:
Tea leaves may be contaminated with coliform bacteria. If iced tea is brewed at inadequate temperatures or in an improperly cleaned urn, or if it is stored for too long, it may grow coliform bacteria, most frequently Klebsiella and Enterobacter, and less commonly E. coli. In particular, the faucet of iced tea urns may provide a nidus for bacterial contamination.
posted by muddgirl at 8:22 AM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

It's gonna depend on what kind of tea you made (not sure what you mean by "passion tea," are you talking about Tazo's herbal tea called Passion?) and how it was stored. If you made an herbal tea by using boiling/near-boiling water and kept it in a covered container overnight, it's extremely unlikely to be the cause of your stomach upset.

The only thing I could think of would be something where one of the herbal ingredients could cause stomach upset if brewed too long and strong; that's a possibility, but it's hard to know based on your question how likely it actually is. A regular tea with tea leaves would probably taste horrible and might give you stomach upset due to all the tannins and such; mostly I think it would be just horrible-tasting though and you probably wouldn't want to drink it.

If you left it uncovered and/or brewed it with insufficiently hot water, it could conceivably be contaminated. I don't think it's especially likely to have been contaminated, but it's certainly possible.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 8:41 AM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

You're fine, it's fine.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:45 AM on November 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yes, it's the Tazo herbal tea. Basically my way of getting around Starbucks charging $4 a cup...
posted by CrazyGabby at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2016

maybe it had too much tannin in it
posted by maiamaia at 3:04 PM on July 13, 2017

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