More people are drinking tea these days, but not everyone has the time to brew up a steaming pot of tea from loose tea leaves. Tea companies have responded to the demand for a fast cup of tea by offering instant tea powders that can be mixed with water and enjoyed in seconds. It sounds like the ideal way for a health conscious person to get the benefits of drinking tea – but is it really? Is powdered iced tea healthy?
How Is Powdered Tea Made?
Instant tea granules are made by using low pressure to extract liquid from fresh tea leaves. The liquid is then freeze dried to form a powder. Unfortunately, this type of processing destroys most of the antioxidants that make tea such a healthy drink. In fact, according to reports by the USDA, powdered iced tea loses more than ninety percent of its antioxidants when it’s processed – and some instant teas have almost no antioxidant catechins, once it’s reduced to a powder. If you’re drinking tea for its health benefits, you’re cheating yourself when you use instant tea granules.
Instant Tea Powder Isn’t Just Tea
It’s not just the lack of antioxidants that makes powdered iced tea less healthy, it’s the additives. Some instant teas contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. If they don’t contain artificial sweeteners, there’s a good chance they contain sugar – sometimes a lot of it. Most also contain preservatives such as BHA to keep the product fresh. Some studies show that BHA causes cancer in animals. Why expose yourself to these additives when you can brew your own tea at home?
Powdered Iced Tea May Have More Fluoride
The tea plant, Camelia sinensis, readily absorbs fluoride from soil and water. All tea contains fluoride, but instant teas, according to tests, may have disturbingly high amounts. Getting too much fluoride over many years can lead to a condition called skeletal fluorosis, where fluoride is deposited in bones and joints – leading to chronic bone and joint pain. It also causes mottling discoloration of the teeth in children. Casual tea drinking – even instant iced tea – is unlikely to cause skeletal fluorosis, but it’s still a good idea to drink tea in moderation – no more than four or five cups a day.
Powdered Iced Tea: The Bottom Line
If you’re going to drink tea, why not get the health benefits? Take the time to brew it fresh at home using loose tea leaves and you’ll get more antioxidants – without the harmful additives.
Medscape.com website. “Tea May Contribute to Development of Skeletal Fluorosis”
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.