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How Much Sugar is in YOUR Bottled Iced Tea?

What drink could be simpler or healthier than iced tea – except maybe water? Tea is known to keep you mentally alert and for its crisp, refreshing taste. The antioxidants in tea boost your immune system, improve digestion, and help manage heart disease and diabetes and many other chronic conditions.

But all ready-to-drink teas are not created equal. Added sugar – in the form of fruit juice or honey – can turn simple bottled tea into a high-sugar, high-calorie beverage equal to those sugary sodas many tea drinkers wish to avoid.

However, sweet teas can be irresistible. They liven up black teas and satisfy our craving for sweetness and a crisp, refreshing thirst-quencher.

What’s considered a healthy level of sugar? The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams of added sugars for men daily and 25 grams for women.

What’s in YOUR Tea?

On closer inspection, tea comparisons can be tricky. Bottle sizes vary, for one thing. So if you want to compare sugar content of two different brands, look at the line, “Serving size” on the nutrition panel first.  If they are the same, great. Then look at which has higher grams of sugar.  However, if the serving sizes are different, that’s where a bit of mental math comes in.  About how much bigger is the serving size compared to the other? For example, if the serving size is 18 ounces for one brand, and 8 ounces for the other, then you know 18 ounces is about double that of 8 ounces.  So then take the grams of sugar from the 8-oz. brand and double it.  Is it more or less than the grams of sugar of the 18-oz brand?

Another tea variation that has become popular over the years is adding fruit juices to tea, a clever way to make tea taste sweet and fruity without adding sugar. Some teas contain the juice of lemons, peaches, apples, berries, and so on. The idea is probably in part to help cut down on cane sugar, the most common sugar added to bottled teas. Other teas contain spices like ginger, honeysuckle, clove, cinnamon, allspice, and other sweet-tasting herbs and plant-based extractions which also give sweetness to tea without adding cane sugar.

We’re going to limit our comparisons of black teas to these popular variations … those sweetened with natural cane sugar, fruit juices, herbs, and spices. To help you make more informed tea selections, we compared the amount of sugar in five of the leading brands of bottled teas, using the classic black tea variety as our comparison model. So let’s get on with the brand comparisons! 

Pure Leaf

Pure Leaf’s product description says their sweet teas are sweetened with “real sugar.” To accommodate those with a “sweet tooth” of varying levels, Pure Leaf offers a lineup of these black tea based teas: Sweet, Extra Sweet, Organic Black Tea Sicilian Lemon & Honeysuckle Flavor, and fruit-flavored varieties.

The sugar content in Pure Leaf Sweet tea is 42 grams per 18.5-oz. bottle. Their Extra Sweet variety is a whopping 65 grams packed into an amply-sized bottle. The bottle size might satisfy your desire for sweetness over two days, thereby cutting down your daily sugar consumption a bit – just a thought. Optionally, Organic Lemon & Honeysuckle has 20 grams of sugar and comes in a 14-oz. bottle.

Gold Peak

Gold Peak’s sweet black tea sugar content is 44 grams in a 16.9-oz bottle. With a hefty dose of sugar, it’s not surprising that Gold Peak also offers a Slightly Sweet version with 24 grams of sugar in a large 18.5-oz. bottle. We also call attention to what Gold Peak calls “Unsweetened Lemon.” Using lemon juice doesn’t add to its sweetness, but does add a zesty flavor to an otherwise unsweetened black tea with zero grams of sugar.

Honest

Honest brand tea is being candid with their tea drinkers when they call attention to their no-sugar variety, “Just” Black Tea. A 16-oz. bottle is just that: tea and water. It has zero sugar, fruit, or flavorings, which may be less flavorful for some bottled tea drinkers. But we each have our favorites and acceptable sugar content levels.

Honest also offers flavored black teas using the slogan “Just a Tad Sweet.” One of them is a 16-oz. Mango Mate Black Tea with 15 grams of sugar. This variety contains a yerba mate extract (herbal tea made with leaves and twigs of a plant), mango puree, natural flavors, and sugar. They also offer an Organic Ginger Peach black tea with zero sugar in a 16.9-oz. bottle.

Snapple

Snapple’s Straight Up Sweet Tea is just that: black tea with choice of three sweetness levels. Straight Up contains black tea and 44 grams of sugar, the same sugar content of Gold Peak’s sweet tea but in a larger bottle, 18.5 ounces. Straight Up Sweet Tea’s sister teas, are “Sorta Sweet” with 21 grams of sugar and “Unsweetened” with no sugar.

Tejava

Our comparisons wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our very own Tejava Original Black Tea. Tejava Original Black Tea is bold and smooth and contains only water and tea leaves sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms. We add no preservatives or acids so all you taste is tea and water, pure and simple. Our flavored teas add a hint of sweetness, with a touch of natural flavor such as peach and raspberry but still black, bold and unsweetened. Available in 16.9-oz bottles and have zero sugar and zero calories.

Brand

Product

Container Size

Grams of Sugar per Container

Pure Leaf

Sweet

18.5oz.

42g

 

Extra Sweet

 

65g

 

Organic Lemon & Honeysuckle

14oz.

20g

 

Unsweetened

16.9oz.

0g

Gold Peak

Sweet Black Tea

16.9oz.

44g

 

Slightly Sweet

18.5oz.

24g

 

Unsweetened Lemon

18.5oz.

0g

Honest Tea

Just Black Tea

16oz.

0g

 

Just a Tad Sweet

16oz.

15g

 

Organic Ginger Peach

16.9oz.

0g

Snapple

Straight Up Tea

18.5oz.

44g

 

Sorta Sweet

18.5oz.

21g

Tejava

Original Black Tea

16.9oz.

0g

Tejava

Peach Flavored Tea

16.9oz.

0g

Tejava

Raspberry Flavored Tea

16.9oz.

0g

 

You be the judge, but we’re not shy in saying we have the best black tea around, proudly sourced from Java, the Indonesian island where Tejava was inspired.

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