Before switching to a low oxalate diet, I used to be an avid tea drinker. I loved black tea and green tea in particular. While there are several lower oxalate green teas, I can’t really tolerate them anymore. But I still crave tea. The ICN food list recommended chamomile and peppermint tea, which I really enjoyed. And Wendy L. Cohan’s excellent book, The Better Bladder Book, turned me on to something I had never tried: nettle tea. All three of these herbal teas are worth trying. Even if they don’t benefit your symptoms, they are a welcome change from water and milk.
Chamomile tea: Chamomile is a mild tea. It is made from chamomile flowers (shocking, right?) Some brands of this have other additives, but I prefer to use ones made with just the flowers, as lemongrass or other acidic things may cancel out some of the benefits. This tea pairs well with desserts, or you can even cook with it (see my recipe for chamomile-poached tilapia). I also like to make chamomile tea and dunk a few animal crackers in it. It makes up for no longer being able to binge on British biscuits and sugary black tea (which, while delicious, was not exactly healthy).
Chamomile tea may have a relaxing effect; it makes some people outright sleepy. It can soothe the bladder simply by relaxing it. While this may sound alarming, it means you may void your bladder less often. As long as you know it won’t make you too sleepy, I suggest drinking some before a long trip; it may cut down on pit stops on the road.
In the summer, try putting a bag of tea in a glass of water and keeping it in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or longer if you don’t mind a stronger flavor). You can do this with virtually any tea, but it’s particularly nice before bed. Remove the bag before enjoying it.
Nettle tea: If you respond well to antihistamines, nettle tea is the tea for you. It has a somewhat grassy taste. Nettle tea is an anti-inflammatory, so it may naturally soothe your bladder. It is also a natural antihistamine, except it won’t make you sleepy like Benadryl. However, it is a tea best enjoyed at home, as it may make you need to pee more often, at least temporarily. If you have a bladder infection, nettle tea may be an especially good choice, since it can help flush bacteria from your system more quickly. It doesn’t seem to have much of a diuretic effect on me, but be forewarned.
I especially enjoy nettle tea during allergy season. I find a hot cup of it soothing for my throat when I have had a lot of sinus drainage. I haven’t had the heart to try it cold.
Peppermint tea: Peppermint tea may or may not have specific properties that help the bladder. It helps some people; I personally find it doesn’t help my symptoms. However, it can definitely help an upset stomach, and many people find it relaxing and refreshing. It is good hot or cold. Do not drink peppermint tea if you are prone to heartburn or GERD.
If you are still craving caffeine, you might want to try rooibos tea, which is a red African bush tea. Bear in mind any caffeine has the potential to irritate your bladder, but many people have reported no effect on their symptoms. Drink up and enjoy!