Is Sweet Tea Good For You? Health Benefits And Side Effects

Sweet tea, also referred to as sweet iced tea is a popular beverage in southern parts of the US. While sweet tea and iced tea might not be the same, these terms are used interchangeably. 

The fact that sweet tea has an incredibly high amount of sugar in it, might be a concern if you are a sweet tea lover. The higher the amount of sugar, the higher the calories.

It is always best to go with homemade sweet tea since you can control the amount of sugar it has. But, does sweet tea have any benefits? It can depend on some factors that we’ll discuss below. 

In the blog post besides originally answering, Is sweet tea good for you, we also tried covering a few general questions about sweet tea. Some of these are:

Is sweet tea healthy? Is sweet tea better than soda? Can sweet tea have side effects? Is sweet tea bad for you? And more.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

What is Sweet Tea?

Sweet tea is a popularly enjoyed beverage in the United States and Indonesia. It is prepared by steeping a black tea bag in hot water and adding sugar to it while it’s still hot. 

It allows the sugar to dissolve completely creating a sweet-flavored base. While sweet tea might be served either hot or cold, it is mostly served over ice.

You can choose to further flavor sweet tea by adding some fruit juices like lemon, mint, raspberry, or peach. 

Is sweet tea nutritious?

Even though most part of the sweet tea is sugar, it also has black tea that contains compounds such as vitamins, flavonoids, catechins, antioxidants, and other polyphenolic compounds. 

A single cup of sweet tea can have as many as 80 calories due to the added sugar in it. The amount of calories can significantly increase if you add more sugar to it. 

Is Sweet Tea the Same As Iced Tea?

Since both iced tea and sweet tea are often used interchangeably, we often confuse one with the other. However, you should understand that sweet tea is not the same as iced tea.

Sweet tea is always sweet and has added sugar in it, it can be consumed either hot or cold. While iced tea is brewed tea that is both chilled and served over ice.

One must understand that Iced tea is not necessarily sweet. It may or may not be sweetened. 

But, since most people in different parts of the US like their sweet tea to be served over ice, they tend to confuse iced tea with sweet tea.

So, sweet tea and iced tea aren’t one thing, both are different. But in any case, you can make your sweet tea iced or iced tea sweet.

Is Sweet Tea Good For You?

Sweet Tea can be a healthier alternative to soda but might not be completely good for you. It’s because sweet tea purchased from the store may contain a very high amount of sugar.

Too much sugar is never good for your health. It can cause several health-related problems like increased blood sugar levels, diabetes, and an increased risk of heart disease. 

So, what to do if you do not want to miss the flavorful taste of sweet tea?

The best way is to go for “Homemade sweet tea”. When you prepare sweet tea by yourself you have better control over its sugar content. 

You can actually make a sweet tea that is much healthier than the one purchased from a shop. But how do you make it? You’ll come to know later in the blog post.

When you are preparing sweet tea at home, try to limit sugar content and use direct tea leaves instead of tea bags. This sweet tea can have some significant health benefits.

The benefits are due to the nutritional profile of black tea which contains compounds such as antioxidants called polyphenols, catechins, caffeine, and flavonoids. 

Sweet tea can aid in health benefits like prevention of free radical damage, improved heart health, increased mental focus, and digestive benefits. 

Want to know the benefits of sweet tea in greater detail? Here you go!

Health And Nutritional Advantages Of Sweet Tea

Sweet tea may provide some health benefits, such as vital minerals, increased metabolism, fat burning, improved endurance, and many more (1). These health and nutritional advantages can be attributed to the components of Sweet tea which is black tea.

1. Promotes heart health

Black tea contains polyphenolic chemicals such as theaflavins, which help decrease blood cholesterol. And it includes – the same antioxidant found in red wine, almonds, and dark chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease by 8%, and can prevent artery and heart damage caused by free radicals (2).

2. Helps you stay hydrated

Staying hydrated with water is important because it allows your body to replace electrolytes more quickly. This is especially true with sweet tea, which includes a lot of water. 

Furthermore, the sugar in this tea can aid in the replenishment of electrolytes, which is required for proper hydration.

3. Improves your mood

Sweet tea, like green, oolong, and black tea, contains about half the caffeine of the other teas. The sugar in this tea raises your blood sugar levels, which can improve your mood and energy levels.

4. Relieve Stress

People who suffer from anxiety and insomnia can benefit from the caffeine in sweet tea, which stimulates the brain without being too powerful. Caffeine impacts physical and mental functions, making people more alert. 

5. Reduce free radical damage

Sweet tea contains a high concentration of powerful antioxidants and plant chemicals that have been shown to protect your body from free radical damage. However, this tea contains sugar, and consuming too much sugar may have the opposite effect. 

6. Boosts your metabolism

Natural sugars, like those in honey and fruits, can speed up your metabolism because they include fructose, which helps with fat burning. Caffeine also speeds up metabolism in both healthy and obese people.

Other than black tea, sweet tea contains salt, however, it contains less sodium than soda.

7. Low in sodium 

Sweet tea contains less sodium than soda and taking too much sodium is linked to higher blood pressure.

8. Contains potassium 

Drinking sweet tea replenishes potassium, a major electrolyte found in human bodies. Potassium is also necessary for maintaining blood pressure and heart rate.

What Are The Side Effects Of Sweet Tea?

Sweet tea has significant levels of added sugars – about 16 teaspoons or more – which may be harmful to your health if you drink this tea on a regular basis.

Sugary drinks such as sweet tea may result in a number of health issues, such as increased weight, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Also, drinking this tea too frequently may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, and a single serving of sweet tea contains more than 50% of the daily recommended sugar intake.

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, added sugar consumption should be limited to less than 10% of daily calories. This means that in a 2,000-calorie diet, no more than 200 calories, or about 12 teaspoons, of added sugars should be consumed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that Americans consume much too much-added sugar, which can lead to a range of health issues such as weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Giving up sweet tea can be difficult for you if you drink it regularly. 

How To Make A Healthier Sweet Tea?

Sweet is generally considered unhealthy due to loads of sugar added to it. But, you can avoid this factor if you decide to prepare sweet tea yourself.

But the thing is, how to prepare a healthier sweet tea?

The following steps can help you brew the perfect sweet tea that is both healthy and delicious.

Step 1: Start off by boiling 2 quarters of water in a saucepan till the water reaches near its boiling point. 

Step 2: After the water is completely hot, turn off the burner. Add one cup of sugar to the water. You can choose healthier alternatives such as stevia or honey if available. Stir until it is fully dissolved. 

Step 3: Place 4 tea bags of your favorite tea brand in the hot water and steep it for 15 minutes. Allow the tea to come to room temperature. 

Step 4: Squeeze tea bags to extract as much flavor from them as possible. 

Step 5: Add some more water to the tea base and stir it well.  

Step 6: After the mix is prepared, you can add some squeezed fresh lemon or other things like peach, mint, or raspberry according to your preference. 

Step 7: Use a strainer to transfer the tea into a pitcher and refrigerate it until cold. 

Step 8: Enjoy your healthy sweet tea by serving it over ice. 

That was a quick way to prepare a perfect sweet tea. To keep your sweet tea healthier, it is crucial to use a limited amount of sugar while preparing it. 

Summary: Is Sweet Tea Good Or Bad?

So, Is sweet tea good for you? The answer is both yes and no. Sweet tea can be good due to the presence of black tea in it which contains some healthy compounds like antioxidants, flavonoids, caffeine, and polyphenols. 

These compounds can be beneficial in improving immunity, heart health, mental focus, and concentration, and reduce inflammation. Black tea also has a good nutritional profile. 

Besides the potential health benefits, it might be bad for you due to the presence of sugar in it. Excessive amounts of sugar in sweet tea might give rise to health problems like diabetes, weight gain, and risk of cardiovascular disease. 

So, the best way to enjoy sweet tea is by cutting the amount of sugar you add or if possible replacing it with natural alternatives like honey or stevia. 

With any sweet beverage, whether it is diet soda or sweet tea, moderation is the key. If you are not consuming too much sweet tea, like taking it 2-3 times a week, it shouldn’t be much of a concern. 


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