Does Tea Have Calories?
Whether you want a refreshing drink in hot weather or a nice hot mug to keep you warm in the cold, tea is a beverage that suits every occasion. Various cultures have different approaches to tea, as some can drink up to four cups a day without even thinking about it. These cups can all add up over time, which may make you wonder - how many calories are in tea?
The good news is that tea doesn’t have that many calories at all. Keep reading to find out how many calories are in tea, as well as how the number changes if you add milk or sugar to your cup.
How Many Calories Are In Tea?
By itself, pure tea has close to no energy within. 100g of tea made without any extras contains around 1 kcal. A glass or mug with 250 - 300ml of tea contains around 2-3 kcal. Even if you drink lots of tea, you don’t need to worry as it won’t affect your daily calorie intake that much.
Studies have also shown that drinking tea may have some benefits. More research is needed, but drinking tea 3-4 times a day could help the body reduce the number of fats and proteins that it absorbs. This effectively reduces the total amount of calories we consume.
Types Of Tea And Their Calories
Tea has varied calorie counts depending on the type that you go for. Loose leaf tea or pure tea in teabags has less than 1 calorie per 100 ml. Herbal tea has a similar calorie count. You could class these teas as calorie-free.
Fruit tea and tea from flowers have slightly more calories, but these amounts aren’t drastically more by any means. Flavored and dried fruit teas can have less than 5 calories per 100 ml. That being said, it’s impossible to know exactly how many calories are in these teas, as several factors dictate calorie value. These include the brewing method, amount of time spent soaking the fruit, and the fruit’s size.
As the tea is being brewed, carbohydrates and sugars are extracted from the fruit, creating the tea. Despite this, you’re unlikely to find fruit teas that have more than 10 calories, which is still very low.
The calories count increases for matcha tea. This is green tea in powdered form. A teaspoon of this has roughly 6 kcal. However, matcha’s nutritional value outweighs the calorie count. It’s packed with antioxidants that support the body.
One of the more calorie-filled teas is called yerba mate. The calories in yerba mate tea change depending on the brand that you go for. In most cases, around 50 grams of dried yerba mate contains around 25 to 50 kcal. Yerba mate also has several health benefits, including increased energy, mental focus, and weight loss.
The teas that have the most calories are labeled as ‘instant’ or ‘granulated’ tea. These aren’t really teas, as they contain lots of sugar and only a tiny amount of tea. This is reflected in the calorie content. One cup of granulated tea is around 80 kcal.
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How Many Calories Are In Sweet Tea?
Tea with no additives has few calories, but several drinkers prefer to make their tea sweeter. Just one teaspoon of sugar adds around 20 calories to your tea. If you drink 3 cups of tea with two teaspoons of sugar in each, this adds up to 120 calories to your diet. These empty calories don’t come from food, so they won’t fill you up or provide you with vitamins and nutrients.
Some say that swapping sugar for honey is a better option, but a teaspoon of honey roughly contains 40 calories, twice as much as sugar. Despite this, honey has more minerals within, so compared to sugar, it is better for the body. If you do add honey to your tea, do so at a cooler temperature. Honey loses its health benefits above 45°C.
What Can You Use To Sweeten Tea
Other than sugar and honey, you can try sweetening your tea with syrups, fruit, and sweeteners. Syrups and fruit can add calories to your tea, from as low as 15 kcal to as high as 150 kcal.
Sweeteners have different calorie counts depending on the brand used. They may not have a lot of calories, but they can have a particular aftertaste. Some studies have also found that they can be bad for our health. Nevertheless, if you’re trying to cut down on calories, sweeteners may be a good option - as long as you don’t mind the aftertaste.
How Many Calories Are In Tea With Milk?
Milk and cream also add calories to tea, but these amounts are a lot smaller compared to dairy products used for food. The calories in milk come from sugars and fat. Whole milk has more fat, so it has more calories. One ounce of whole milk contains 18 calories, but this is much more than people add to their tea.
In contrast, skim milk has just 10 calories per ounce. None of these calories is from fat. The cream has a higher fat content and has 56 calories per ounce. This may be more than milk, but again, most people only use a dash of cream in their tea.
Milk is also nutritious, unlike sugar. One ounce of milk contains 1 gram of protein, along with vitamin A and calcium. The US and various other countries also fortify milk with vitamin D. However, vitamin A and D are fat-soluble, so your body will find it difficult to absorb these nutrients from skim milk.
Also called ready-to-drink teas, these beverages will have been brewed and bottled beforehand. They will also be sweetened, often in large quantities. Research has shown that many bottled teas contain over 10 teaspoons of sugar in each bottle, which works out to over 150 calories. If you do purchase bottled teas, it’s best to go for the unsweetened varieties to lower the calorie count.
How To Start Liking Unsweetened Tea
If you wish, you can try training yourself to start liking unsweetened tea. People are often wary of new foods. This is mainly seen in children, but it also occurs as adults. Even if you don’t like unsweetened tea on first taste, keep trying it regularly. As you become more familiar with the taste, your tastebuds will adapt, and you may start enjoying the bitter taste.
If you don’t want to jump right in, try taking a small sip of your tea before you sweeten it. When done repeatedly, you might use less sweetener in the future, or start enjoying tea without it.
The Bottom Line
Sugar, milk, and cream all add calories to tea, but as this is done in small amounts, you don’t need to worry about it too much. However, pre-packaged bottled and instant tea can have copious amounts of sugar. These can have adverse effects on your health. If you want to reduce your calorie count, you can try training yourself to like unsweetened tea. This may take a few tries, but if you drink sweetened tea throughout the day, this small change can have a dramatic effect.