The Politics of Bottled Green Tea

I recently discovered this hand-out titled The Politics of Bottled Green Tea . It was written by Korene Schmitz from the Sociology Department at St Cloud State University. I was thrilled to find this piece, and would like to make Tea Trekker readers and tea enthusiasts aware of what this author has to say.

Much has been discussed in the food world about the pros and cons of bottled, RDT ( ready-to-drink ) tea. Generally, most who understand the composition of foods, and more importantly, those who understand what tea is and isn’t, know that there is very little ‘tea’  in a bottle of RTD tea.  Beyond providing some simple liquid hydration, consumers who think that they are drinking a beverage that will give them the same benefits that they would obtain from drinking a cup of plain, natural tea are mistaken.

Consider this quote from Schmitz’s piece: ” Often bottled teas have more additives and sweeteners than actual tea as an ingredient.”  The potential benefits from the presence of tea ( albeit a small presence ) in these drinks is called into question when sweeteners and additives are added.  The significance of this is echoed in the following sentence:  ‘ these added ingredients have potential adverse side effects on a consumer’s health. ‘

Please read this document which is posted below. It raises important issues not just about tea but those surrounding larger consumer issues such as:

  • the necessity for self-education regarding food awareness
  • learning about positive choices we can make in our diets to maintain health
  • recognizing misleading or deceptive advertising practices
  • understanding what food labeling and ingredient listings really mean and how to read between the lines

We are pleased to note that our book, The Story of Tea, is listed as one of the information sources that the author used to research her piece. While we do not directly address the topic of RDT in our book, we do have a comprehensive Chapter on the Healthful Benefits of Tea that explains in detail why drinking tea is beneficial to human health.

click here to view a PDF of this handout: The Politics of Bottled GreenTea

Also, I am adding below a segment of an article on the same topic that was posted by Kristie Leong, MD, March 2008 on She addresses the same topic thusly:



‘ Can you just grab a bottle of cold, bottled green tea and drink away to get health benefits? Unfortunately, it may not be that easy. Bottled green teas were found to be woefully deficient in catechins when compared to tea brewed at home. The average glass of green tea brewed at home has about 30 milligrams of catechins. When bottled green teas were tested for catechin including such well known brands as Lipton and Snapple, scientists found them to be extremely low and in some cases zero.

Why would bottled green tea have less healthy catechins than brewed tea? When brewed green tea is bottled, it tends to become cloudy in appearance giving an unappealing appearance to the tea. For this reason, bottled green teas need to be reformulated to give them more buying appeal. During the reformulation process, many of the catechins are removed along with some of the health benefits.

The other problem with bottled green tea is the high sugar content. Most bottled green teas you find on the store shelves of your local supermarket are laden with sugar and are not for the calorie conscious. Many store bought, bottled teas are as calorie rich as your average sweetened soft drink. Certainly not a recipe for health.

The bottom line? If you’re drinking green tea for health benefits, you’re best brewing your own at home where you can get the full health benefits. Plus, you can control the amount of sugar you add to your tea which helps to decrease the calorie load.’

So….. when you want to drink tea……drink plain, natural tea,  not bottled, sugared tea beverages.


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