You May Be Washing 95% Of The Health Benefits Of Your Tea Down The Drain
Americans have an iced tea obsession. 85% of the tea consumed in the USA every year is prepared cold. So it’s not a big surprise that one of our most frequently asked questions is, “Can your teas be consumed as iced tea?
For all of our teas, the answer is an emphatic “yes” but, being a science kind of guy, I need to throw in a caveat. “Yes, but be sure to prepare it correctly.” Incorrectly prepared iced teas (yes, Uncle Si, I’m talking to you!) lose as much as 95% of the health benefits .
In both regular tea and most herbal teas like our jiaogulan and white mulberry, many of the health benefits are due to the presence of various “polyphenols”. You’ve probably heard nutritionists recommending a diet with different color vegetables. This is an easy way to make sure you consume a wide variety of polyphenols.
Research links polyphenols to a wide variety of health benefits including being
- anti-carcinogenic and
But teas are not chemically stable. In iced tea polyphenols tend to precipitate out. If you’ve ever picked up a bottle of bottled iced tea at your grocery store and noticed a cloudy sediment in the bottom of the bottle, then you’ve seen this phenomenon first hand.
Additionally, most store-bought iced tea is heavily watered down and loaded up with sugar or artificial sweeteners. A study reported at the American Chemical Society in 2010 of the most popular bottled iced teas concluded, “Some contain such small amounts (of polyphenols) that consumers would have to drink 20 bottles to get the polyphenols present in one cup of tea.”
The same precipitation phenomenon will happen to your home brewed iced teas if you let them sit overnight.
The key to maximizing the health benefits of your favorite iced tea is to brew it fresh every day. I know it’s not the most convenient thing. But even brewing the night before results in significant precipitation of polyphenols by morning.
The best method is to brew a big pot in the morning just as you would brew a pot of hot tea and let it cool in the refrigerator. If, for example, you want to take it to work and it doesn’t have time to cool before you leave home, brew the tea extra-strong and drop a few ice-cubes in before you leave.