Q: I read that tea can be dangerous during pregnancy. True?
A: "That depends," says Joel M. Evans, M.D., author of The Whole Pregnancy Handbook (Gotham Books, 2005). Even the most caffeinated black tea can be a good alternative to a high-octane latte. When steeped for three minutes, an 8-ounce mug of brewed black tea contains much less caffeine (40-60 mg) than the same amount of drip coffee (115-175 mg), though pregnant women still need to limit caffeine intake to 300 mg daily. Herbal teas don't contain caffeine, and some--like red raspberry leaf, which is high in vitamin C, potassium and other nutrients--may help with such pregnancy symptoms as nausea. But others, including kava, ma huang, cohosh, pennyroyal and mugwort, have druglike effects that could harm you and your fetus. Stick to safe varieties, and tea drinking can have a calming, spiritual effect. "When you brew a cup, it gives you a chance to slow down and connect with nature and the plants that gave you this tea," Evans says.