The Unhealthiest Iced Teas on the Planet
Don't get us wrong. Scientists have amassed a volume of research showing that teas possess significant health benefits. Brewed teas contain antioxidants such as polyphenols, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and catechins, which have been found to help rev your metabolism, block the formation of new fat cells, fight off diseases and even minimize cell damage, aging, and risk of stroke. But don't let these facts justify your bottled tea purchase—because not all teas are created equal. Which is why we rounded up the unhealthiest iced teas on the planet.
In fact, a recent study found that you'd have to drink 20 bottles of store-bought tea to get the same amount of antioxidants present in just one home-brewed cup. And even though versions packaged with an acid like lemon juice or citric acid can help stabilize these antioxidant levels, an independent lab test by ChromaDex found that more than half of the nutrients had disappeared from acid-spiked flavors within three months of shelf life.
Plus, because companies know that the disease-fighting polyphenols have a slightly bitter, astringent taste, they tend to add more water—instead of actual brewed tea—to their products. Add that to all the sugar that's injected into these generously-portioned bottles, and any health benefits you once imagined vanish into thin air.
While we highly recommend steeping your own at home to reap the fat-fighting benefits, if you do choose to grab a bottle off the shelf, make sure it's not one of these diet-derailing options—some of which are worse than a can of soda. To be considered for a spot on our worst list, the following teas had to serve up over 35 grams of sugar. That's more than 70 percent of the FDA's newly updated daily recommended intake of added sugars, which peaks at 50 grams of the sweet stuff. Read on to find which brands to avoid for each of your favorite flavors, and for more drinks to avoid, here's a list of the 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked by How Toxic They Are.
Worst Lemon Flavors
Pure Leaf Lemon Flavored Tea
Take a closer look at that ingredient list! No actual lemons were used in the making of this tea. Instead, why don't you pick one of these 22 Best Teas You Should Drink for Weight Loss.
Gold Peak Lemon Flavored Tea
Gold Peak flavors win top honors for being the worst iced tea brand out there. They use a brewed tea concentrate, boost the appearance of tea with caramel color, and worst of all, they jam-pack their bottles with added sugars. Just 5 grams short of your entire day's recommended intake can be found in this bottle. Yikes!
Instead, why not brew your own tea? Here's What Happens to Your Body If You Drink Tea Every Day
Brisk Lemon Flavor Iced Tea
If you had to guess how many ingredients are in lemon tea, what would you guess? Lemon, tea, water, sugar…so, uh, four? Well, this one's got 14. Just no.
Plus, did you know Sugar Can Make Symptoms of This Disease Worse, Study Finds?
Worst Half Tea & Half Lemonades
Snapple Half 'N Half
Also known as an "Arnold Palmer" after the golf legend, this beverage is a mix of iced tea and lemonade. Now, the trademark drink is sold by AriZona, but companies like Snapple appease their lemonade-loving customers by selling a similar recipe under the name "half and half." You're better off picking up the AriZona one, which is lower in sugar; this Snapple one serves up a day's worth of added sugars.
Gold Peak Lemonade Tea
Just before you thought it couldn't get any worse, Gold Peak got into the game. This beverage has more sugar than 15 Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. Instead, sip on one of these 6 Healthy Beverages Skinny People Drink.
Worst Southern-Style Sweet Teas
Gold Peak Sweet Tea
We have a winner! Gold Peak is top of the pack when it comes to pouring sugar into their sweet teas. A mere 18 ounces of liquid comes complete with 12 teaspoons of the sweet stuff—that's more than the notoriously sweet Mountain Dew!
AriZona Sweet Tea
When Southerners first invented sweet tea, they probably used real lemons, real sugar, and real tea; not citric acid, ascorbic acid, high fructose corn syrup, and natural flavors. Here's Why High Fructose Corn Syrup Is Bad For You.
Snapple Sweet Straight Up Tea
Sorry, but it's too easy: This tea is "straight up" sugar.
Pure Leaf Peach Tea
We're not really sure why manufacturers like dumping loads of sugar into peach teas. Peaches aren't even in the top 10 when it comes to fruits with the most sugar. Plus, none of the sugar even comes from real peaches anyway; Pure Leaf just uses "natural peach flavor" to replicate the taste of the summer stone fruit.
Snapple Peach Tea
If you'd like to guzzle down 78 percent of your daily recommended added sugar intake in just 16 ounces, as Snapple would say, to peach their own. So steer clear, and avoid these 50 Unhealthiest Drinks on the Planet.
Gold Peak Peach Tea
Gold Peak claims a "home-brewed taste," but we don't remember having natural flavors and caramel color in our pantry.
Worst Organic Product
Honest Tea Organic Raspberry Tea
It may be certified organic, with fair trade black tea leaves, but just because the cane sugar is organic doesn't mean you can guzzle this iced tea down without a care. Although it has significantly less sugar than the rest of the drinks on this list, it still has over half a day's worth of your added sugars—not great. That being said, not all Honest products are bad. In fact, their Honey Green Tea has the highest amount of free-radical-fighting catechins out of any bottled green tea product.
Worst Excuses for Tea
Brisk's Mango and Raspberry Iced Teas
Brisk Mango Iced Tea
Brisk Raspberry Iced Tea
Nothing's a-brewing over here. Brisk attains the taste of tea with either a tea powder or instant tea (which isn't even in the top five ingredients in the Raspberry flavor). On top of that, because the raspberry or mango is only a flavor—and not actual fruit—the appearance of the claimed taste is made by adding potentially-carcinogen-containing caramel color, and oil-derived colors like red 40 and yellow 5, which have been linked to hyperactivity in children.
Oh, and did we mention there are 16 ingredients? Why? Many are preservatives, others are artificial dyes, and the rest are sugars or artificial sweeteners which have been linked to disrupting your gut composition, a common precursor to weight gain.
SoBe Elixir Green Tea Flavored Beverage
Rather than brewed tea, SoBe just adds a green tea extract this brew. Which is enough to mislead customers into thinking their product may provide the same fat-burning benefits as the real stuff. Alas, this beverage is basically just caramel color, natural flavor and an entire day's worth sugar—supplemented with extra sweetness from stevia extract.
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Worst Sugar Offenders
AriZona Iced Tea With Peach Flavor
You don't even need to be called out for being "Extra Sweet" to pack in a staggering 69 grams of sugar—120 percent of your daily recommended intake of the sweet stuff—if you're this AriZona brew. Even opting for the smaller bottle won't be much of a help. Oh and those peaches you see on the can? They're just natural flavor.
Pure Leaf Extra Sweet Tea
One trick that really deserves a place on our Top 10 Rules You Must Follow to Lose 10 Pounds? Stay away from anything with the words "extra" and "sweet."
AriZona Extra Sweet Green Tea
Don't be fooled into thinking that all green tea products possess the slimming antioxidants which help keep you fit. This premium brewed green tea is all but wasted by AriZona's use of high fructose corn syrup—and little of the "honey" they claim on the label.
Instead, sip on green tea that you brew yourself! Here's What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Green Tea.
Worst For Weight Loss
AriZona Lemon Iced Tea With Lemon Flavor
Whether you opt for the small bottle or a tall can, this tea is bad news for your body goals because of its unreasonably high-calorie content. And since tea is naturally low in calories, you can blame the high energy count almost solely on the addition of high fructose corn syrup.
Most Misleading Labeling
Arnold Palmer "Lite"
AriZona claims this beverage has "1/3 less calories" but this lite version is still full of waist-widening sugar—even though it is lower in calories compared to some of AriZona's other brews. Unfortunately, the lower calories, but same sweetness you love, comes from adding artificial sweeteners like sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which has been found to cause tumors in rats during studies.
Tazo Black Tea Mango
The clean-cut label with real tea leaves and slices of mango on the packaging makes this brew look natural and healthy. It may be natural, but it certainly isn't healthy. With over 75 percent of your daily recommended intake of added sugars in such a small bottle, you're better off sipping on a cup of home-brewed black tea and biting into a real mango (complete with all that satiating fiber) instead.
Arnold Palmer "Real Sugar"
It may be made with real sugar (and it does have less of the stuff than AriZona's high-fructose-corn-syrup-sweetened variety), but there is still over three-quarters of your daily limit of added sugars in these drinks. The good thing is that sugar has less fructose than HFCS, so these beverages "made with real sugar" will have less of the simple carb which directly contributes to fatty liver disease and insulin resistance.
Worst Sip For Green Tea Lovers
Gold Peak Green Tea
Green tea is one of our favorite teas for weight loss because of its fat-fighting antioxidants. Unfortunately, you won't get much of those benefits by drinking this watered down, flavored, and sugar-laden beverage. Instead, brew your own at home to reap the waist-trimming benefits.
Worst Use of Fruit
We do appreciate that Tazo uses real black tea (instead of a powder or extract), but adding apple and raspberry concentrate juices is really just adding more sugar to the tea—and it's the bad kind. Fruit juice concentrates have a high concentration of a sugar known as fructose, which our body turns into fat and inflammatory compounds more easily than it does with the other common sugar, glucose. Experts believe that fructose is to blame for the increase in rates of metabolic disorders and fatty liver disease.
If you like juice, you may want to consult our list of 7 Best 'Healthy' Juice Brands & Which To Avoid at All Costs.
Pure Leaf Raspberry Flavor Tea
When we say the worst use of fruit, in this case, we mean in the name. This tea doesn't actually have any raspberry in it. The disguise is provided by adding "natural flavor."
Brisk Honey Ginseng Green Tea
This bottle of iced tea has more sodium than all but two bags on our list of notoriously-salty 30 Best Selling Potato Chips. That's thanks to the fourth ingredient, sodium hexametaphosphate, which is said to be added to "protect flavors." Are they talking about the "natural flavors" and "caramel color?"
Now that you know what teas not to sip on, here are The Unhealthiest Burgers in America—Ranked!