Iced not so nice: some bottled tea drinks found to be sweeter than Coke

There is plenty of medical evidence that drinking tea is good for your health. But the explosion of iced teas on the market is fooling consumers into thinking they are treating themselves to a health drink.

SoftdrinksAn independent analysis has found that many of the tea-based drinks marketed as a healthier alternative to processed juices are another form of soft drink, and some brands have even more sugar than Coca-Cola.

Of the 26 different varieties of iced tea available, only five were identified by the consumer watchdog, Choice, as containing real brewed tea. Most were made from tea extract, which is significantly lower in beneficial antioxidants, mainly flavonoids, widely acknowledged to be a health bonus present in black and green fresh teas.

Lipton Ice Green Tea, which is made from tea extract, contained 170 milligrams of flavonoids in its 500-millilitre bottle, Choice found. A simple tea bag in a mug would deliver twice as many antioxidants. Some brands, such as Pokka Green Tea Sweet Jasmine, which boasts “100 per cent authentic real brewed tea with antioxidant catechins” in its ingredients, fare even worse. The same quantity of freshly made tea would deliver five times the level of antioxidants.

Choice will reveal its full study on iced tea today.

The organisation’s spokeswoman, Indira Naidoo, said the research debunked the myth that iced tea drinks were a healthy alternative to sugary soft drinks.

Ms Naidoo said three brands of Sosro iced tea contained more sugar than the equivalent amount of Coca-Cola, which has 10.5 teaspoons of sugar in a 500-millilitre bottle. The three brands of Sosro iced tea tested each had 11 teaspoons of sugar, while the Pokka Green Tea Peach had about the same amount of sugar as Coke.bottled tea

Ms Naidoo said people tended to believe iced tea was better than soft drink because of evidence about its antioxidant content. Antioxidants can help prevent heart disease and boost the immune system.

“Bottled iced tea is just another soft drink,” she said.

The alternative?

“If you need to grab a drink when you’re out, bottled water is still the healthiest – and usually the cheapest – option,” she said.

(By Kelly Burke Consumer Affairs Reporter, Sydney Morning Herald, October 2006)
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