Coca tea consumption causes positive urine cocaine assay

Eur J Emerg Med. 2006 Dec;13(6):340-1. doi: 10.1097/01.mej.0000224424.36444.19.


Background: Coca tea, derived from the same plant that is used to synthesize cocaine, is commonly consumed in South America and easily obtained in the United States.

Objectives: To determine whether consumption of coca tea would result in a positive urine toxicology screen for cocaine metabolites.

Methods: Five healthy adult volunteers consumed coca tea and underwent serial quantitative urine testing for cocaine metabolites by fluorescence polarization immunoassay. The cutoff for a positive assay was chosen at 300 ng/ml, the National Institute on Drug Abuse standard.

Results: Each participant's urine cocaine assay was positive (level exceeding 300 ng/ml) by 2 h after ingestion. Three out of five participants' samples remained positive at 36 h. Mean urine benzoylecgonine concentrations in all postconsumption samples was 1777 ng/ml (95% confidence interval: 1060-2495).

Conclusions: Coca tea ingestion resulted in a positive urine assay for cocaine metabolite. Healthcare professionals should consider a history of coca tea ingestion when interpreting urine toxicology results.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beverages* / supply & distribution
  • Bias
  • Coca / metabolism*
  • Cocaine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cocaine / urine
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders* / urine
  • Drinking Behavior
  • Drug and Narcotic Control / legislation & jurisprudence
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fluorescence Polarization Immunoassay / standards
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / standards
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • South America
  • Substance Abuse Detection / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Substance Abuse Detection / methods*
  • Substance Abuse Detection / standards
  • Time Factors
  • United States


  • benzoylecgonine
  • Cocaine