Tea is delicious, but an acquired taste. While it’s usually served hot, some people like it cold. Iced, actually. Is it good though ? Is it okay to drink cold tea ?
Depending on what part of the world you’re from, the question might sound either silly, or very serious.
Iced tea is the perfect summertime drink — it's cold and refreshing, and it plays well with added fruits and other flavorings. But if you drink iced tea every day, is it good for you?
Iced tea is usually made from black tea, but you can use any type of tea you like, including green, white, and herbal teas like hibiscus or peppermint. In fact, the health benefits may differ based on which type of tea you use. How you brew iced tea may also have an impact on its healthiness. Dr. Chris Norris at Sleep Standards points out that iced and hot teas are nearly identical in terms of health properties, especially since iced tea is usually brewed hot and then simply allowed to cool. But he told The List, "Some research shows cold brewing for a longer duration may have more health benefits than steeping your leaves in hot water. Cold-water steeping is reported to maximize tea health benefits, including higher antioxidant activity."
So can you drink tea cold ?
Yes, you can totally drink tea when it’s cold. Iced, even. There are some differences between cold and hot tea, but as a whole not very much changes. It’s still the same tea.
I know some parts of the world (particularly Asia) only drink green tea hot, as it was meant to way back when. But the Western countries have started loving the old green tea, and they’re not wrong for doing so.
It all depends on your individual taste, and how much you like cold tea in general. But let’s go through the hot and the cold, shall we ?
Cold tea seems to be the preferred drink, though
It just so happens that cold green tea is the preferred drink in some parts of the world. Especially in places like the U.S. iced tea is a summer favorite, with fruits added into it for additional flavor.
While that’s not wrong, it’s a different end-product from the cup of hot green tea most other people know.
If you do end up drinking cold brewed green tea, you should know that iced green tea has significantly less caffeine than hot green tea. This is mostly because caffeine is temperature-dependent, and most iced green teas are not home-made.
Always make your own green tea, at home
You can work around this by making your own green tea at home, which I strongly recommend. As long as you know how to boil water, you know how to make tea.
Remember to stop your water just before it boils, and let it sit for a minute or two. You can be sure it’s about 80 C then, or you can use a thermometer to read the water.
Eyeballing it will be enough though. All you have to be careful for is that they water is not boiling hot, since that will give you a bitter tea.
And be sure to only leave the tea in for 3-5 minutes. Some teas might need a bit less than 5 minutes for a hot brew, or they might go bitter as well. If you’re unsure, you can always taste the tea with a teaspoon.
Once you’re happy with the tea you’ve made, you can either drink it on the spot or store it in the fridge. I recommend you read up on how long tea lasts in the fridge.
If you’re opting for a cold-brew method, you’re going to have a slightly different story. And end-product. For a cold brew you’re going to need cold or room-temp water, and 10-12 hours. The way cold brewing works is that you’re letting the tea steep for much longer than usual, but at a much slower rate.
This is usually done to obtain a slightly different flavor from the tea leaves, and to preserve some of the health benefits of the tea. What’s that, I just said you lose them if the tea cools down ?
You do, but only the ones that have been extracted by the high temperature. Some properties are better when extracted cold. Funny how tea works.
Can you drink any other tea cold ?
You can drink pretty much any other tea cold. It’s a matter of taste more than one of health benefits. When it comes to tea, keep in mind that it’s always a light extract of whatever properties you’re trying to obtain.
To get the full benefits of green tea (or any other tea) you’d need to drink 3-5 cups of strong tea every day for weeks to feel any effects. So do not worry about that one cup of tea, if it should be cold or hot. It’s just one cup, it won’t do you much harm, or save you from an illness.
What does matter, however is whether you add sugar or any other sweetener to your tea. This is coming from someone who does put sugar in her coffee and tea, mind you.
If you’re looking for the antioxidants in green tea, adding sugar won’t help at all. It’ll almost neutralize the effects, actually. This is another reason I recommend only drinking home brewed tea.
Commercial bottled tea has a ridiculous amount of sugar, almost as much as soda. While this is easier for some people to enjoy the taste, it robs the tea of its properties. Not to mention how potent the mixture really is (spoiler, it’s often not).
If you drink iced tea every day, it can help you stay hydrated
Getting enough water does more than simply quench your thirst. Staying properly hydrated helps deliver nutrients to cells, maintain body temperature, fight infection, lubricate joints, and boost your mood, among other things. That's not surprising, considering about 60 percent of the human body is actually water.
The Mayo Clinic recommends adult women get about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of water a day, while adult men should aim for 15.5 cups (3.7 liters). Luckily, this doesn't all have to come from plain water.
According to Dr. Chris Norris at Sleep Standards, iced tea is a great option. He told The List. "It doesn't matter whether it's herbal, black, green or chamomile; hot or cold — tea is just about as hydrating as water." A 2011 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition came to the same conclusion. The researchers noted that, although the caffeine in black tea has often been considered dehydrating, their findings indicated that tea and plain water were almost identical in their ability to provide hydration. So, if you want to hydrate, you can drink iced tea every day, though water is presumably the better option.
If you want to lower your caffeine intake but still need a little bit, drink iced tea every day
If you're trying to kick your coffee or energy drink habit but either can't or don't want to give up caffeine entirely, you may be able to wean yourself down to a more reasonable amount by switching to iced tea. Registered dietitian Trista Best shared, "[Iced tea] is a great drink for anyone who needs assistance getting a little extra concentration or energy to focus. Many excessive caffeine drinkers have chosen to detox to a lower amount by transitioning to iced tea over coffee or other high-caffeine beverages."
As shared by The Washington Post, research suggests that the average American adult consumes between 122 mg and 225 mg of caffeine a day. Side effects of consuming too much caffeine, according to Healthline, can include anxiety, sleep problems, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and, ironically, fatigue. So how much caffeine is in your iced tea? The University of Utah's mathematics department shared that while a 2-ounce espresso has 100 mg, an 8-ounce glass of iced tea has only about 47 mg. And if you're drinking a green tea, you'll get even less — only about 15 mg of caffeine.
Caffeine can do a lot of crazy things to your body, so you may want to lower the amount you consume. But heads up: There's a lot that can happen to your body when you give up caffeine.
When you drink iced tea every day, you could lose weight
When it comes to the health benefits of iced tea, researchers usually focus on black tea. But one type of herbal tea may actually be more helpful when it comes to losing weight.
A 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that drinking herbal tea made from yerba mate, a plant native to South America (via Healthline), encouraged fat oxidation. Kathryn Schwab, a health and wellness researcher at Tons of Goodness, explained, "[Fat cells] are in a constant state of turnover, meaning that fat is continuously entering or exiting the cell ... Fatty acids released into the bloodstream can then be burned (oxidized) for energy. When fat is oxidized, this results in weight loss." Interestingly, the 2018 study found that iced yerba mate was more effective at fat oxidation than hot yerba mate
If you're one of the 56.4 percent of American women trying to lose weight, you may want to swap out your regular iced black tea for an iced yerba mate.
You may stay looking young if you drink iced tea every day
If you're worried about aging, you're not alone. A 2017 survey found that 28 percent of women under 25, 42 percent of women aged 25 to 34, and 54 percent of women between the ages of 35 and 44 worried "regularly" about how they're aging, as reported by the New York Post. Fortunately, believe it or not, the fountain of youth might actually be a pitcher of iced tea! Yes, if you drink iced tea every day, you may be doing your skin a favor.
When it comes to the physical signs of aging, collagen plays an important role. That's because collagen, a protein found throughout the body, provides structure to our skin (in addition to performing many other important functions), as explained by Healthline. As we age, our body's ability to create new collagen decreases, leading to saggy, wrinkled skin (via HuffPost). But, as nutritionist Lisa Richards told The List, "It's been shown that dietary polyphenols, like those found in iced tea, can stimulate the production of collagen in the body." These polyphenols, she explained, can also prevent damage to collagen from free radicals.
If you're stressed, you might want to drink iced tea every day
According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 44 percent of Americans feel stressed in day-to-day life "frequently," while another 35 percent feel stressed "sometimes." Parenting and work were the most commonly reported stressors.
Does that sound like you? If so, registered dietitian Trista Best believes a refreshing glass of iced tea might actually help you relax. She explained to The List, "The hormone cortisol, the stress hormone, is known to increase stress ... Iced tea is able to naturally lower cortisol production in the body and subsequently reduce anxiety." A 2007 study conducted by Dr. Andrew Steptoe and colleagues at University College London and published in Psychopharmacology came to the same conclusion, although the researchers only examined black tea's stress-busting properties.
Getting your stress levels under control is important. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms that negatively effect your physical and psychological health. These include headaches, chest and muscle pain, sleep problems and fatigue, stomach upset, and changes in sex drive. So why not try to drink iced tea every day?
Drinking iced tea every day may be good for your heart
Can a glass of iced tea a day keep the cardiologist away?
According to Dr. Chris Norris at Sleep Standards, the answer is yes. He told The List, "Unsweetened iced tea contains flavonoids that play a vital role in protecting the heart from a number of diseases and keeps your heart healthy and in good shape." He explained that these flavonoids are antioxidants that protect arteries from inflammation and atherosclerosis ("a hardening and narrowing of your arteries," as explained by WebMD).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists heart disease as the No. 1 killer in the United States, responsible for 25 percent of all deaths. What you may not realize is that heart disease is actually an umbrella term for a number of different conditions, as noted by Medical News Today. These include coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, and heart attack. While some forms of heart disease are caused by structural or physiological problems (issues the flavonoids in iced tea can't do anything about), other forms, including coronary artery disease, are closely linked to inflammation and atherosclerosis. So, if you drink iced tea every day, you could be helping your heart.
Drinking cold tea could be the weight-loss trick we've all been missing
It was already known that a warm cuppa helps shift the pounds but the slimming effect is even better when the brew gets cold. Researchers shunned English breakfast tea in favour of yerba mate, from South America, for their weight loss experiment. It was already known that a warm cuppa helps shift the pounds but the slimming effect is even better when the brew gets cold. Cups of unsweetened tea were given to 23 young, healthy adults at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. One day the mate tea was served cold at three degrees Celsius, while on other days it was served warm at 55 degrees Celsius. They had their blood pressure, heart rate, amount of blood pumped by the heart, oxygen levels and fat oxidation were measured for 90 minutes after drinking.