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Calorie Count Blog

When Tea Isn't Healthy


By +Carolyn Richardson on Oct 03, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

With all the bad publicity, taxes, and bans levied on sugary beverages, maybe you’ve taken your soda intake down a notch. Meanwhile, tea is gaining steam as a healthy exchange to enjoy a little flavor in place of water and save calories. The problem is some drinks touted as tea put sugary beverages to shame in the fat, calorie, and sugar department. Others are marketed as better options on the drink menu, when in fact they’re just another cup of mostly sugar water.

No Go Boba

Bubble Tea also known as Boba, or pearl tea is a drink that’s anything but healthy. It does have many variations, including fruit-flavored or milk teas with its base ingredients as black tea, condensed milk, honey or sugar, and tapioca balls. A standard 12 oz. serving is about 500 calories. If you’re wondering where all the calories come from, the tapioca pearls alone are around 100 calories an ounce, and depending on the size of the cup, 2 to 3 ounces of tapioca pearls may be added. The added milk is usually whole milk and when you add to that the fruit flavoring, which is usually syrup, you’ve got the perfect storm to bust your calorie count wide open for the day.

Better: Go for the basic milk tea that’s iced, as opposed to the blended fruit flavored options. Ask if low or skim milk is available and ask for a limited amount of tapioca pearls to save calories.

Best: You can forgo all added sweeteners by blending ice, tea and milk with chunks of fresh fruit.


Bu-bye Traditional Thai and Chai 

Do you believe a savory curry Thai dish deserves the company of Thai Tea? Before you go there, remember that calorie-wise it’s like adding a hamburger to your meal. The drink is made by adding condensed milk, sugar, and orange blossoms to black or red leaf Thai tea. If you get a 12 or 16 oz. serving, which most restaurants serve when you dine in, that drink could add over 300 calories. I won’t even mention that some restaurants use half-and-half to top off the drink and make it creamier, adding more fat and caloric-insult to diet injury. Maybe you’re thinking a similar black tea, Chai is the way to go. But, if you ask that your Tall Starbucks Chai Tea Latte be made with nonfat milk, you’re still staring at 160 calories. Don’t say a word, and it’ll be made with 2% milk, adding 30 more calories.  

Better: Get your Chai Tea fix at home and save 120 calories with this recipe from Whole Food Market. Taste Nirvana offers a ready-to-drink Thai Tea Latte in a 9.5 oz. bottle that will help you keep your portion size under control and is just 130 calories. 

Best: Opt for a Spiced Chai tea bag. It'll give you the taste you crave, without artificial sweeteners or added sugar, and absolutely no calories (or add a splash of low-fat milk for a few calories). 

Too Sweet Tea

McDonald’s Sweet Tea is water, sugar, orange pekoe, and pekoe-cut black tea which even in a small 16 oz. cup, serves up 36 grams of sugar and 150 calories. Wendy’s Wild Berry Tea cuts the calories a little with their 12 oz. small clocking in at 70 calories, but you should know the drink is not a traditional fruit-infused tea, but rather unsweetened tea with “wild berry puree” added which just happens to include sugar, corn syrup, grape juice concentrate, and a preservative in addition to the real fruit. Jack in the Box has no shame in its flavored iced teas which are made by adding "pumps" of a fruit-flavored syrup that includes sugar and artificial coloring with a few artificial sweeteners in Acesulfame K and Sucralose. Those help make their 24 oz. serving size stick at 83 calories. If you’re above the drive-thru, even Jamba Juice is in the sweet tea market with their Tea Infusion drinks. In addition to fruit juice, which is listed first in the ingredient list, there’s also lemonade added to your organic green tea.

Better: Ask for the smallest size made with half cold water. You’ll still get what you want, with half the calories.

Best: Ask for unsweetened tea which is up for the taking at each of these restaurants. If you must, add lemon and a pack or two of sugar on your own. This will add between 20 to 40 calories.

If you want to have a flavor-added tea, you can get black or green tea with real fruit infusions in tea bags or loose leaf varieties to brew at home. It's the best way to enjoy the taste and health benefits of tea.


Your thoughts...

How do you enjoy flavored teas without the added calories and sugar?



Comments


I always make my own chai and certainly it does not have those kind of calories.  I drink my chai with controlled portions of sugar and cream- at about 100 calories per cup.  One time per day is okay...

It has been a long time since I bought soda.  I love flavored teas such as raspberry and blueberry in the summer- ice cold- no sugar. Once in a while I will add some juice to it but generally I drink it plain.



What are the general benefits of tea/ no sugar and no milk?


Tea is full of antioxidants, green tea is especially good for speeding up metabolism and flushing out toxins from kidneys and liver. I started drinking 2 or 3 mugs a day and I have lost 3lbs in two weeks :-)


I bought the powder for vanilla chai. It days to use 3 tablespoons which would be 140 calories. But I use one tablespoon and make it with water. It's still delicious and has a ton less calories and sugar and curbs my sweet tooth.


One good choice available is Panera's Acai Berry Green Tea, Regular  size

0 of everything (except 83mg of Caffeine) & it tastes great!

Ingredients: Acai berry green iced tea (fine china green tea, hibiscus, natural flavors and acai bits)




Drink Rooibos, its caffeine free and packed with antioxidants, its good hot or cold, with or without milk.



I do not want to be mean.... but when you hear thay you should drink tea because it is healthy, no one in their right mine immagines that we are talking about something containing a lot of sugar and condensed milk or fat. 

I have nothing against the article... but I was expecting some better pieces of advice than " don't put suggar in the tea" ! All of us, we must have certainly realised by now that that's not the healthiest type of tea.....



I LOVE flavored tea as a treat sometimes...but I LOVE not having to worry about added calories. So, I use flavoring extracts such as mint, raspberry, orange, whatever I find that sounds good. I add just a tiny drop or two to a glass of iced tea or cup of hot tea (green or black) If I want it a little sweeter I add half a packet of Truvia or a drop or two of liquid stevia. But often, I don't need the sweet with the extracts. For a Chai Latte I use a spiced chai tea bag, and brew the tea as normal. The I use a small aerator whisk to froth up some skim milk and add that to the top of the tea, sprinkle with a little cinnamon and nutmeg, and sip it slowly...great while reading a good book or enjoying the fall colors from my back porch. 



I enjoy herb tea once or twice a day as a nice break from water.  I don't drink juice or soda so having a flavored tea is nice.  I don't use milk, sugar or sweeteners so it is always calorie free.  It is nice after a long walk on a cool day to just hold a hot mug.



Original Post by: krrpoli

I bought the powder for vanilla chai. It days to use 3 tablespoons which would be 140 calories. But I use one tablespoon and make it with water. It's still delicious and has a ton less calories and sugar and curbs my sweet tooth.

I have been drinking 3 cups green tea with 1/2 t of Agave syrup every day for two years and I weigh 10lbs more than I did when I started.

 



I love flavored teas! (hot teas)  Celestial Seasons or Lipton have so many to choose from.

When in the mood for Chai, Stash makes an excellent tasting tea.  I just brew the bag and add nothing.



I am shocked by the bubble tea!! I had no idea those little tapioca balls were so high in calories.  



I've never heard of bubble tea, and can only assume that chai tea is like something I've tried before at a friends wedding. I love black tea with a bit of milk in it, but if I'm in a really healthy mood will drink white tea. It has some of the same benefits as green tea as well as many more!


I love my cup a tea each morning. I use Tazo Awake or Chia tea with a packet of spenda and sugarfree vanilla creamer (15 calories). Also helps me when I have a sweet craving, MMMMMM-Good!



So true, great article and reminder! One does not even know what it is hidden behind these supposedly healthy drinks! As far as Chai tea, most of the ones which are on the market are bland and do not carry much flavor, except this blend. http://www.bluelotuschai.com/It is the BEST ever, and I have tried many. The only problem is that since it is a powder you actually eat the leaves, with the result that keeps you up for a while. But it is worth trying!

 



I prefer rooibos tea, which is naturally sweet and does not need anything added.  From time to time I will add fat free/skim milk. For Iced tea, crush fresh mint and add tea, it's very refreshing.  



I love my tea with lots of lemon and  1 Blue and 1 Pink artificial sweetener (1 package of Sweet 'n Low and 1 package of Equal.)  This creates an extra sweet tea without the bitterness.  When blue and pink aren't available together, I'll use which one is available with 1 regular sugar.  Not as sweet, but does the job for me.  I use the same technique for my iced coffees.



Theres teas like bengal spice and acia mango from Celestial Seasonings. If I want a sweet iced tea, I go for acia mango. Its naturally sweet and no calories. If I want a warm sweetish tea, I go for bengal spice or some other herbal fruit teas.



I make my own green tea and sweeten with a little bit of truvia.  I have a big glass in the morning with 3/4 tea and 1/4 crystal light mixed in.  My favorite combination for the crystal light is the peach mango green tea flavor or the raspberry lemonade.



I really enjoy Starbucks black tea or green tea shaken. I also add 1-4 packets of Splenda and a great product called true lemon, true orange, true lime, or true grapefruit. These are freeze-dried particles of fruits that are unsweetened. These products really flavor tees and lemonades and protein shakes authentically with NO ADDED SUGAR. The flagship product is true lemon and can be purchased from their website really worthwhile it also comes in packets you can carry. The true lime tastes wonderful in Starbucks green tea, and the true orange taste delicious in the black tea. They are pure flavor without sugar or calories!!!


Although they get a bad rap, I don't personally worry too much over artificial sweeteners. 

I like according to my mood.  Chai with either light soy or light almond milk versions is usually the same or even less than skim milk, and adds a wonderful richness to the chai tea bags that can be sweetened with a Splenda type sweetener if needed.

Fruit tea bags are wonderful and refreshing as well.  At restaurants such as Panera, I either go with plain nonsweetened iced, or add half the unsweetened tea and half a flavored sweetened version from the drink fountain.

At home, it's fun to brew your own with natural spices and tea bags, adding vanilla extract or other flavored extracts.  

Green tea is generally healthy as the unsweetened tea bag alone.  Same as most teas.  Green tea however can had adverse effects for those who like me, get anxious easily (speeds up heart rate, shakiness, and sweatiness that can come from excessive caffeine and anxiety for example).  So sometimes I have to be careful depending on how much caffeine is part of the rest of my day, and how stressful the day is.

As far as weight loss and weight gain, green tea is a diuretic, just like coffee.  It will cause gentle water loss.  Thus fluctuations in weight, such as weight loss rapidly in a week, or weight gain rapidly or over time, are possibly due to loss and gain of water weight and your body returning to its norm.  Thus hard to maintain and not necessarily an indicator of true longterm weight loss.

To sum up, tea, flavor, fragrance, and seasons all go together for me. So sometimes tea is just an emotional thing to savor depending on mood, weather, current body temperature, and season. Smile



I have just finished reading this RIDICULOUS report. I really feel the need to respond.

Perhaps it's different in the U.S. but here in the U.K. tea is a lovely drink brewed using either leaves or a bag, with freshly boiled water poured over the tea leaves/bag and left to steep according to flavour. Milk and/or sugar is added to an individual's taste. There is nowhere near the calorie count that this article mentions when tea is brewed this way. In my opinion the 'tea' being discussed is a total misnomer. If you want to drink sugary drinks, drink sugary drinks. Please do not misalign tea in this way. It's not rocket science, if you throw condensed milk, honey, sugar, and yet more sweeteners into anything the calorie count is going to rise, but to drink tea for what it is, the health benefits are astounding. Let Common Sense rule the way...



Original Post by: Lollypolly

I have just finished reading this RIDICULOUS report. I really feel the need to respond.

Perhaps it's different in the U.S. but here in the U.K. tea is a lovely drink brewed using either leaves or a bag, with freshly boiled water poured over the tea leaves/bag and left to steep according to flavour. Milk and/or sugar is added to an individual's taste. There is nowhere near the calorie count that this article mentions when tea is brewed this way. In my opinion the 'tea' being discussed is a total misnomer. If you want to drink sugary drinks, drink sugary drinks. Please do not misalign tea in this way. It's not rocket science, if you throw condensed milk, honey, sugar, and yet more sweeteners into anything the calorie count is going to rise, but to drink tea for what it is, the health benefits are astounding. Let Common Sense rule the way...


I don't think it's necessary to be so condescending, many people just don't consider that milk, sugar etc will add as many calories. Therefore this report is being offered to educate people, and remind them that all those additives will up the calorie count.

 

That being said, I'm a big fan of plain, unsweetened iced tea, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon.  During especially hot days I like peppermint iced tea. If I ever use sweetener I prefer Stevia in the Raw. Simple as that



I'm with the UK comment in that there's tea and then there's sugar drinks with a little tea added. I drink loose leaf tea with stevia for sweetning. No guilt.



I don't call it 'tea'.  To me, tea is leaf (of whatever variety, Jasmine, Green, Red Bush (Rooibos), Indian, Darjeeling, Earl Grey ..) steeped in boiled water.  Some go well with a bit of milk (lite these days) or others (Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchon) go better with a dash of cold water and/or slice of Lemon.  Honestly, what modern places call "tea" isn't what I call tea (NZer with English family, so essentially UK).



I'm a tea addict, I love my Earl Grey, nice and strong, tiny dash of skim milk, no sugar. The idea of iced tea makes me cringe though lol.



Original Post by: lucylocket1966

I don't call it 'tea'.  To me, tea is leaf (of whatever variety, Jasmine, Green, Red Bush (Rooibos), Indian, Darjeeling, Earl Grey ..) steeped in boiled water.  Some go well with a bit of milk (lite these days) or others (Earl Grey, Lapsang Souchon) go better with a dash of cold water and/or slice of Lemon.  Honestly, what modern places call "tea" isn't what I call tea (NZer with English family, so essentially UK).


I agree.  I'd never heard of half the stuff mentioned in the article, but it doesn't sound like tea as I know it.



I make super yummy frappe style Chai lattes!  Super easy too!  Brew a cup of strong Chai tea.  Pour it in a blender over a few ice cubes and add 1 tsp of cinnamon vanilla powdered coffee creamer.  Blend to a frosty consistancy.  There's only 60 calories in a 4 tsp serving of powdered creamer so this drink is only 15 calories of super yummy and slightly sweetened bliss!  Try it!  You'll love it!



Yes and a normal cup of tea drunk black is only ... ZERO calories.  Or about 5cal if you put a smidge of low-fat milk.  Why on earth is there a need to 'glossy up' ordinary foods and beverages??????



I have been drinking tea [no sugar or milk] for about 4 years since coffee started bothering my IBS.  WHat I didn't know is that there is 25 mg of potassium in a cup of Earl Grey tea!  I was wondering how to up my potassium and now I can add tea as one of the ways!



Aside from coffee, tea is great during cold weather. I love its soothing aroma, it helps my metabolism. Tea is good also for an individual who wants to lose weight.



To my dentist dismay, I exist on tea.

I am brewing a couple of pots (nettle, chai, mint-honey, ginger-lemon, 9-herbs, elderberry fruits) each night in summer to fridgerate with limes/lemon for ice tea or around now and winter in the morning, for a nice hot cuppa with breakie, and another 1-2 pots in the office.

Its comfort more than anything for me as well as budget as well as cancelling out carrying water/juices up to my rooftop patch;b.

Saying that I do enjoy a bubble tea as a treat (black tea one) once in a while during summer as a perfect treat, its fun.

And  I do have put a little cash aside for proper teeth hygiene, though.



i love me all teas and usually drink them straight(no suagr or milk)

unfortunately i also LOVE boba, thai and chai teas and its a bummer to see how many cals are in them, especially boba :( im pretty devastated

i guess its time to experiment in the kitchen and make them at home!



Anyone who drinks McDonalds Sweet Tea for the "therapeutic" effects is probably not into healthy weight loss from the get-go.  I found it to be absolutely undrinkable (horribly sweet) and it is certainly NOT a thirst quencher, so I never went back for a 2nd try.  Bubble tea is fun to drink, like a milkshake is fun to drink, but I can't imagine anyone thinking bubble tea has therapeutic value either!  I have to kind of agree that this article was lacking insight...next article: when is protein BAD for you?  (When it's covered in salt, heavy cream, gooey cheese and sugar, of course!)



Green tea or green tea with lemon does it for me. My local noodle bar serves unsweetened green, chamomile or jasmine which goes really well with their meals.

Costa in the UK offers large mugs of green tea. The iced peach and raspberry ones available in the summer have sweetener added, as my taste buds will attest, but the hot green tea doesn't. Unless the customer chooses to add it.

Why wreck the natural taste of the tea by adding sugar? Yes, I have a sweet tooth, but as a teapot-with-legs, it's usually black with milk, mint or green without.



PS: Americans drink far more coffee than proper tea as we think of it in the UK. As someone with a total intolerance to coffee (IBS and other yucky digestive issues you don't want to know about) tea is my staple drink.

None of these drinks discussed above would appeal to me if offered on a menu when travelling, no matter where I might be. They all sound far too sweet for my taste and sound altogether too much like sugar water. (See my previous comment about ruining the flavor of the tea by adding sugar.)



I have recently discovered reports of green and black teas grown in Sri Lanka and China to contain high amounts of fluoride absorbed from the soils. I'm not very happy about the possibility of having to deal with fluoride poisoning now. Herb teas don't seem to be a problem. 



Is there anything wrong with ordinary  tea, fat free milk and a dash of sweetener?



Comment Removed

As the tea shops suggest, is there a huge difference for health benefits in using loose tea from their shops as opposed to using tea bags?



Comment Removed

I've learned to love unsweetened tea and now sweet tea makes me cringe.  But I do love the Acai berry tea at Panera.

 



Bigelow has some nice fruity teas, orange spice and apple cranberry are two of my favorites. i just put a teabag in my water bottle, fill the bottle with ice, add water and just add ice/water through out the day. no sugar or milk needed, the teas have a nice flavor all on thier own. i do switch off with plain water tho, as i find if i drink too much tea in a day it upsets my stomach.



switched to rea from coffee a few years ago so i drink a lot of tea at home, i do use artificial sweetener although not aspartame. i am quite familiar with the toxicity of these but, my choice. i usually put a little almond milk in if it's black tea, love my earl gray & english breakfast. lipton makes an array of very nice flavored green teas.



Original Post by: Mama_Nella

Original Post by: Lollypolly

I have just finished reading this RIDICULOUS report. I really feel the need to respond.

Perhaps it's different in the U.S. but here in the U.K. tea is a lovely drink brewed using either leaves or a bag, with freshly boiled water poured over the tea leaves/bag and left to steep according to flavour. Milk and/or sugar is added to an individual's taste. There is nowhere near the calorie count that this article mentions when tea is brewed this way. In my opinion the 'tea' being discussed is a total misnomer. If you want to drink sugary drinks, drink sugary drinks. Please do not misalign tea in this way. It's not rocket science, if you throw condensed milk, honey, sugar, and yet more sweeteners into anything the calorie count is going to rise, but to drink tea for what it is, the health benefits are astounding. Let Common Sense rule the way...


I don't think it's necessary to be so condescending, many people just don't consider that milk, sugar etc will add as many calories. Therefore this report is being offered to educate people, and remind them that all those additives will up the calorie count.

 

That being said, I'm a big fan of plain, unsweetened iced tea, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon.  During especially hot days I like peppermint iced tea. If I ever use sweetener I prefer Stevia in the Raw. Simple as that


I loved the original comment.  Many societies have a ritual around tea.  Tea isn't coffee or soda.  It is a delicate, subtle experience.  I live in the U.S., but when I have a cup of tea, I take out a lovely teapot and put the tea in a pretty cup and sip it.  It is an experience. 

 

I think if more people looked at food this way - as something beautiful, a gift - instead of something to get a quick jolt or to fill up - not only would they be healthier, they would be more content and happy.  I'm trying to move in that direction.....



I just use loose leaf tea 1 tsp sugar. And squeeze from a real lemon.


I just use loose leaf tea 1 tsp sugar. And squeeze from a real lemon.


When I want something sweet to drink,  hot or cold, I drink Stash Licorice tea or Good Earth Original Sweet and Spicy - neither have any calories.



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