It’s time to put the kettle on! Drinking tea has garnered a lot of press over the years for its high polyphenol content – natural antioxidants with health-promoting qualities. However, if you’ve been getting your daily dose from bottled tea, you might be missing out. Recent research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society revealed much lower amounts of these healthy polyphenols in bottled tea when compared to home-brewed green or black tea.
Although it has long been popular in England and Asia, tea has become a more popular drink in the United States since scientific research has shown it might help lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and cancer. Plus, caffeinated tea could even boost your workout. As more Americans began to drink tea, companies met customer demand by producing bottled iced tea, which now accounts for more than $1 billion in U.S. sales.
Using a laboratory analysis to determine the amount of polyphenols in six brands of bottled tea, the scientists concluded that, in some cases, the bottled teas had “virtually no” polyphenols. On average, the researchers found that consumers would have to drink 20 bottles to reach the amount of polyphenols in just one cup of brewed tea. In eight ounces of the bottled teas, polyphenol content ranged from 1.5 to 40.5 milligrams, while home-brewed green or black tea ranges from 50 to 150 milligrams.
The researchers offered an explanation for the low levers of polyphenol. The taste of polyphenols is bitter and astringent, so companies could be using less tea to soften the bitterness. Unfortunately, this technique also reduces the product’s health benefit.
Another concern, the researchers highlighted, is that high amounts of sugar are often added to bottled teas. While this doesn’t affect the polyphenol content, it does add empty calories to an otherwise healthy product.
Hopefully this new information will encourage bottled tea manufacturers to create a product with a higher polyphenol content. In the meantime, reap tea’s health benefits by opting for the hot and steeped variety. There is a variety to choose from (green, white, black, pu-erh, or oolong) and they each have their own unique taste.
As a side benefit, brewing your own will also save you some cash! While bottled teas can cost about $1.50 to $3.00 each, a tea bag is just a few cents.