SB caffeine and herbs/spices PSA

SB and MayoI’ve amassed a small amount of research on caffeine and herb safety during pregnancy, and instead of keeping it all to myself, thought I’d share it here.

As I’m sure many of you have read, most sources consider up to 200 mg of caffeine a day safe during pregnancy. Some sources go higher than that, some go lower, but 200, I’ve found, is the average. The Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, which I have decided is my pregnancy bible, states: “Studies show that a moderate intake—200 mg or less a day, about the amount found in one to two cups of coffee–generally has no harmful effects on mom or baby.”

When my friend R last came to visit, she gave me a sip of her iced dirty chai tea latte from SB (chai with a shot in it), and I melted and went to heaven. But I’m a coffee girl, so I have been, up until recently, carefully measuring out 8 oz of SB coffee (or less) per day, most days, which equals 165 mg of caffeine.

But the other day, after drinking only 4 oz of SB coffee, and even cutting it with milk (which I never do because I’m a purist when it comes to coffee), my tummy was acidy. And I remembered, out of the blue, the heavenly sip of the dirty chai tea latte.

So I went and got one. And it was amazing. And now I am obsessed with chai.

But chais can have some iffy herbs and spices in them considered, when taken in large amounts, unsafe during pregnancy. Spices such as star anise and cardamom, and herbs such as chicory. What I found through research is that the tiny amount of cardamom in a regular SB chai tea is safe during pregnancy. Sadly, there just isn’t enough known about star anise to say it is safe during pregnancy in any amount. There is star anise in regular SB chai.  (I have already gulped down a few regular SB chai teas this past week, but I am not stressing. I’m sure the amount is very small.) Happily, there is no chicory in the chai.

So I called the SB customer hotline to find out which herbs and spices are in the new Opr.ah chai tea latte. Hallelujah: it’s all safe. Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black tea, and rooibus tea.

A tall SB Opr.ah chai tea late has 40 mg of caffeine in it. (A regular chai has 70 mg.) So if you make it a dirty chai, by dropping a shot of espresso in it (75 mg caffeine), you are still looking at only 115 mg of caffeine. You could feasibly put 2 shots in it and still be under the 200 mg caffeine limit at 190 mg.

Of course, it does have sugar in it, so that has to be watched, but generally, it is proving to be a better bet for my tummy, and it tastes like such a wonderful treat.

So, long story short, at SB, I can have up to 9 oz of regular coffee, and up to two shots of espresso (but will do one) in an Op.rah chai tea latte.

Other caffeine amounts of note: SB tall hot chocolate = 25 mg; 12 ounces of = 35 mg; 20 oz Lip.ton 100% natural lemon iced tea in a bottle = 35 mg; 16 oz iced tea, black = 30 mg; Ne.stea unsweetened iced tea mix, 2 tsp for 8 oz = 20 to 30 mg; 16 oz Ariz.ona iced tea green = 15 mg.

And just for the record, if you’re brewing at home, 8 oz of coffee is most likely going to be around 100 – 130 mg.

That’s my PSA for today. Hope some readers found it useful!


Leave a comment


  1. Very diligent of you to research all of that! I am already prepping myself to cut caffeine completly (if I can manage) or at the very least reduce it for my upcoming IVF cycle.

  2. Working mom of 2

     /  June 13, 2014

    Personally I chose not take the risk. kaiser permanente did a study a few years back showing a link to miscarriage.,_Stronger_Evidence_that_Caffeine_During_Pregnancy_Increases_Miscarriage_Risk/ And ccrm said no caffeine for at least the first tri I recall. I tried for way too many years and went through too much to risk it. I was willing to give up caffeine for 4 years (2 babies plus nursing).

    • But to be clear, women who choose to drink caffeine *in moderation* are not endangering their babies. The key is moderation. Caffeine can be a great headache reducer and mood elevator and is not dangerous in moderate amounts—as the study you link to shows (the risk to women is at 200 mg and more, and they do not even say how much more than 200 mg participants drank). Mayo clinic says that the real danger comes at high amounts, like 500 mg.

  3. I seriously want to go try one now… Looking for an alternative to my morning coffee.

  4. Excellent info! I have always wondered about the herb part in particular. I had a friend who cut out herbal teas completely after her positive IVF “because you can never be too safe,” but can that possibly be true that HERBAL TEA is on the naughty list? And, I’m assuming by the fact that you’re drinking it that the chai tea lattes are gluten free? I have avoided everything but regular lattes, herbal tea, and drip coffee at SB because I always have a reaction to their syrups and a barista once told me NOTHING IS GLUTEN FREE HERE EXCEPT COFFEE. He was very angry and bitter though in general so maybe not to be trusted? That dirty iced chai latte sounds like heaven. Thanks for sharing your info! And good plug for the Mayo Clinic Healthy Pregnancy book — I will want one that is informative but doesn’t scare the pants off me, either. :)

    • Yeah, the hysteria around herbal teas can be a bit much—the amount of herbal tea you’d have to drink to have some of the negative effects feared is quite a lot. (Although there are certain ones that are scarier than others. Like Pennyroyal.) As far as chai tea lattes being completely GF, I really don’t know. I found them on one GF list, but I didn’t check with the company. I’m actually not allergic to gluten—I have a perfectly clean Celiac’s panel, weirdly—but I do have a moderate allergy to wheat. So it’s wheat I’m most careful about. I’m also careful about gluten and try to eliminate it altogether, but am not as concerned about small amounts that might pass my lips through something like a squirt of syrup. The Mayo guide is awesome! Avoid What to Expect—I think you’d find it a little patronizing. Mayo is informative but not scary. (:

      • Thanks for the info! I am extremely, extremely sensitive and so avoid anything that could remotely be contaminated. Glad the hysteria around herbal teas is just hysteria, I’d be sad without a nice hot beverage. ;)

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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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