It seems like evidence is mounting by the minute that tea is fantastic for your health. Compounds called polyphenols found in tea (especially green tea) have been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, glaucoma, tooth decay and seemingly countless other health issues. But new research shows that not all teas are created equal. Scientists analyzed the polyphenol content of six bottled "tea" drinks and found them to contain far lower levels of these healthy compounds than an ordinary cup of brewed tea would contain. In at least one case, you'd have to drink twenty times as much bottled tea to get the polyphenols you'd find in just one cup of fresh-brewed tea.
WebMD quotes one of the lead researchers, Shiming Li, PhD, hypothesizing about why this is the case: "Polyphenols are bitter and astringent, but to target as many consumers as they can, manufacturers want to keep the bitterness and astringency to a minimum. The simplest way is to add less tea."
It's also possible that the polyphenols break down over time, and that tea packs its biggest health punch when fresh-brewed. And I probably don't need to tell you that many tea beverages come pre-packed with sugar, artificial flavors, and other things that aren't great for you.
I'm a huge green tea drinker, but have never picked up the habit of guzzling "tea beverages" because I prefer the fresh taste and hot temperature of real tea. Plus I generally stick to water when I'm thirsty (I do have numerous unhealthy cravings, but sweet drinks aren't among them). Will you be changing your tea drinking habits in response to this research?