Thursday, June 5, 2008

Today's Match: Fresh Homemade Tea vs. Bottled Tea Drinks

Thanks to a blog posting on Steepology last week about the latest fad of green tea weight loss scams, I have decided to shed some light on another, less obvious "scam" going on in the tea world: bottled tea drinks.

Thanks to an increasing knowledge and awareness of the health issues going on in America (heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc.), it is becoming common knowledge that fast food and sugary, carbonated drinks are some of the worst things you can possibly put into your body. While moderation is always the key, avoiding these foods high in calories and low in nutritional value is definitely the best strategy for a longer, healthier life.

But what about the huge selection of bottled tea and fruit juice drinks that aren't soda? Many of these beverages are touted as healthy alternatives to the evil empire of high fructose corn syrup-laden carbonated beverages. But are they really better for you?

While many people are counting carbs or simply swearing them off for good, another major culprit that causes weight gain and a host of other health problems is refined sugar. Since I am not a scientist or doctor, I have borrowed this description of the impact sugar has on your health from the UK site,
Macrobiotic Guide:

"...Refined sugar contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes, only empty calories. What happens when you eat a refined carbohydrate like sugar? Your body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the incomplete food. Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken from various parts of the body to make use of the sugar. Many times, so much calcium is used to neutralize the effects of sugar that the bones become osteoporotic due to the withdrawn calcium. Refined sugar is void of all nutrients, consequently it causes the body to deplete its own stores of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes. If sugar consumption is continued, an over-acid condition results, and more minerals are needed from deep in the body to correct the imbalance. If the body is lacking the nutrients used to metabolize sugar, it will not be able to properly handle and rid itself of the poisonous residues. "

Yo fatty! Lay off the sugar! Image courtesy of

So, too much sugar creates an acidic environment inside your body. Too much acid in your tissues allows harmful toxins to build up, as well as harmful bacteria and fungi (such as the yeast, Candida). With that being said, I think it is important that everyone understand how to read labels on not only the beverages you drink, but the foods you eat! After a little bit of research, I was pretty shocked at how much sugar is contained in all the allegedly "healthy" bottled tea drinks you see on the shelves.

For example, the following drinks contain:

Arizona Green Tea: 8 ounces contains 17 grams of sugar, or 3 and 1/2 teaspoons.
Sobe Green Tea: a 20 ounce bottle contains 62.5 grams of sugar, or 12.5 teaspoons! That is 12.5 sugar cubes, people!
Snapple Green Tea: 1 17.5 ounce bottle contains 33 grams of sugar, or 6.6 teaspoons of sugar.

What's more, bottled tea drinks claim to be packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. While it's certainly true that tea contains them, a little known facts is that after about 24-48 hours, antioxidants disappear from tea. The heat in water is what releases a flood of these healthy chemicals, but time and temperature will cause them to dissipate. So a chilled, bottled tea drink that has been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long really is not going to be chock full of antioxidants at all.

The bottom line is that chances are when you make your own tea at home (preferably using one of our awesome Steepin' Mugs!), you either drink it as it is: fresh, full of antioxidants, and without added sweeteners. But if you must, add one or two teaspoons of sugar (Agave is best!); which is less than most bottled tea drinks you will find.

If you must reach for some pre-bottled beverage action, wrap your mitts around one of these brands that have lower levels of sugar: Honestea (about 10 grams of sugar per 16 oz bottle), or ItoEn unsweetened Teas' Tea.

Optimus Prime says stay away from too much sugar. Or else.

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