Is Iced Tea Good for You?

Iced tea is a very popular beverage, especially in the summer or in warm climates. Is iced tea good for you? Iced tea can be good for the body if it is prepared with quality ingredients and little sugar.

Iced tea is a very popular beverage, especially in the summer or in warm climates. With so many varieties of iced tea available in different areas, it can be difficult to tell if you are consuming a drink with health benefits or something that is fully of unnecessary ingredients. There are a few different aspects of iced tea that need to be looked at to help you determine if it is a healthy drink or an unhealthy one, and this will vary based on how the drink that you are consuming has been prepared.

A great deal of the benefit of drinking iced tea is based on the perceived health benefits and risks in comparison to other beverages that you could choose instead. The common comparison is the benefits of iced tea verses the health risks associated with drinking soda on a regular basis, though the comparison can also be associated with sweetened fruit juices, energy drinks or sports drinks.

Benefits of Drinking Iced Tea

In general, drinking hot tea is healthier than drinking iced tea because it is easier for your body to absorb the benefits from warm liquid than those which are chilled. However, there are still many benefits that can be gained from drinking tea chilled rather than a traditional warm preparation.

Less or no calories - If you are drinking unsweetened iced tea, it often has no calories. While this is not directly a health benefit, this does make it more beneficial to drink unsweetened iced tea versus a soda or other drinks that are heavy in sugar. Any time that make a point of cutting sugar and added unnecessary calories from your diet you are helping to avoid diseases such as obesity or diabetes that can cause significant damage to your body.

More antioxidants- Many types of tea are also filled with antioxidants which are beneficial for your body. These antioxidants are increased if you drink tea that is flavored with lemon or lime. Drinking tea with citrus elements will also provide additional nutrients such as vitamin C which provides a great deal of benefit for your body.  Some iced teas also include mint which adds additional antioxidants and adds flavor without adding sugar which contributes to health issues.

Remove free radicals- When drinking unsweetened tea also gives your body the ingredients it needs to eliminate free radicals in your system. These free radicals cause damage throughout the body including cancer. This benefit does not limit itself to a specific type of cancer, which dramatically increases the benefit that it can serve the body overall.

Caffeine concerns - One concern that may be raised when drinking iced tea is the intake of added caffeine. If you are drinking iced tea made from white or green tea you are often taking in less caffeine than you would get from many sodas or a cup of coffee. Some herbal teas have no caffeine at all. However, drinking iced tea that is made from black tea may have as much as 25-100 mg of caffeine per tea bag, which can add up to a significant amount of caffeine per glass. Decaffeinated teas still contain trace amounts of caffeine and may contain traces of chemicals that could lead to other unhealthy risks. It is important to read the risks associated with the particular type and brand of tea you are planning to use to understand how these issues will affect you.

Sugar concerns - With so much attention focused on sugar it is important to note that even tea that is considered unsweetened usually contains a small amount of sugar. The benefit here is not necessarily due to you not taking in any sugar or calories, but taking in less than you would if you were to choose another beverage such as a fruit juice or soda. You can help to improve this by opting to use low calorie sweeteners or raw sugar rather than white sugar, but this will greatly depend on whether or not you are comfortable using sweeteners with artificial ingredients.

Another noted benefit of drinking iced tea instead of other beverages is the lack of sodium in the beverage. Many drinks, especially soda, sports drinks or energy drinks contain a very high level of sodium which can cause serious health risks over time, most notably cardiovascular issues.

Process of Making Healthy Iced Tea

The key to making healthy iced tea is using quality ingredients in your preparation.

  • Start with about 6 tea bags which have been selected based on the quality of the tea and the level of caffeine you are comfortable with.
  • Place these tea bags in a glass container with approximately half a cup of sugar. Fill this glass container with one gallon of boiling water.
  • Allow your tea bags to steep for at least two hours, leaving the container at room temperature. If desired, add lemon or lime juice or fresh mint to add flavor. This recipe limits the amount of calories that you can intake without limiting flavor of the tea.