I personally love the taste of homemade iced tea, but enjoy the convenience of cracking open a pre-packaged bottle. I’d often buy bottled Lipton or Snapple iced tea to drink when on the run, but they were never satisfying to me. My first clue that something was wrong with bottled tea was the taste. It definitely does not taste like homemade tea, not even close.
Spoiler Alert: They don’t taste like real tea because they don’t contain real tea!
Admittedly, I’m exaggerating a bit. Bottled teas are not created equal and some do contain real brewed tea. However, many popular bottled tea drinks contain watered-down tea “extract” and absolutely no brewed tea. This weak “tea” (extract and water) is then mixed with large amounts of sugar or chemically-created sugar (aspartame, high fructose corn syrup). This is essentially flavored sugar water. The American Chemical Society reported that bottled teas contain far fewer antioxidants and flavonoids than homemade brewed tea (the stuff that makes tea healthy), and contain so much sugar that it cancels out the health benefits. Other researchers tested Diet Snapple Greet Tea and found virtually none of the antioxidant EGCG. The seemingly healthy (organic) Honest Tea brand was found not to be so honest after all, with fewer antioxidants than claimed on their label. I personally doubt that Honest Tea will change their labeling anytime soon because there are zero government standards for labeling antioxidant content.
Harmful additives in bottled tea
Delving further into what is really in bottled tea, I discovered tea leaves grown in China were often found to contain lead (which you won’t find on the ingredient list). I also found these potentially harmful additives in these popular brands of bottled tea:
Lipton*: high fructose corn syrup (GMO-derived), sodium hexametaphosphate, aspartame (Nutrisweet), non-organic honey (hidden HFCS), phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, calcium disodium EDTA, caramel color, artificial color yellow no. 5, artificial color blue no. 1, phenylalanine, gum arabic, acsorbic acid (GMO-derived)Snapple*: sucrolose, acesulfame potassium, aspartameArizona*: high fructose corn syrup, non-organic honey (hidden HFCS), sucrolose, acesulfame potassiumNestea*: high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose, phosphoric acid, calcium EDTA, sodium benzoateFuze*: high fructose corn syrup, phosphoric acid, sodium benzoate, sucralose, calcium disodium EDTABrisk*: high fructose corn syrup, sodium hexametaphosphate, caramel color, aspartame, citrus pectin, acesulfame potassium, calcium disodium EDTA, artificial color red no. 40*Per ingredient lists published online. Additives vary based on the variety or flavor of tea.
I’m picking on all bottled tea here
Even expensive organic bottled teas don’t contain as many antioxidants as fresh brewed tea. While many tea manufactures have independent studies done on their tea to measure its healthful properties, it is not consistent. Tea varies from batch to batch, especially in bottled varieties. Sometimes you may get lucky and pick up a lovely bottle of antioxidant-rich organic tea, but the truth is that you never really know what you are going to get. The safest bet is to brew tea at home. Fresh brewed tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink. Make a pitcher of one of these delicious homemade iced tea recipes and ditch the bottles for good:
Fruit-Infused Green Iced Tea – StellaCooks.com
Peach Iced Tea – OrganicAuthority.com
Berry Cucumber Iced Tea - TheConsciousDietitian.com
Strawberry-Lemonade Iced Tea – TheCozyTeaCart.com
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