Let’s Talk Tea!

TeaCarolina summer is just ‘round the corner and with it comes icy pitchers of sweet tea to fend off the sweltering heat. As a dietitian, I sometimes hesitate about southern sweet tea given that it has a reputation for being sweeter than cola! It’s why I love sweet tea best when I can make it myself. Tea is a versatile beverage and there are plenty of ways you can spice it up without upping the sugar. It is a great way to stay hydrated in the summer heat if plain water is not your thing. Here are some tips to liven up unsweetened tea:


  • Adding orange slices, lemon slices for sweetness and aroma
  • Adding cucumber or mint leaves for freshness
  • Adding a dash of baking soda to make tea less stringent
  • Adding milk for creaminess
  • Adding 100% fruit juice for some sweetness

There are many different types of teas on the market but I find green tea and black tea to be the most popular. I am often asked: Why are green and black teas different?

Both green and black teas are made from the leaves of the same plant but they are processed differently. Drying the leaves of Camellia sinensis gives us green tea while fermenting and heating the leaves gives us black tea. This is why green tea tends to be milder while black tea develops a stronger flavor.

What about nutritional differences between green and black teas?

Unsweetened tea has virtually no calories, fat, protein, carbohydrate or many of the vitamins and minerals. What it does have are antioxidants and caffeine.

Antioxidants: Polyphenols and flavonoids are antioxidants in teas prized for protecting our cells from damage. Green and black teas both contain antioxidants but green tea has a higher amount because the fermentation and heating process in black teas destroys antioxidants. Green tea is high in a particular antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC), which can help with weight loss and cancer prevention.

Caffeine: I don’t need to explain this one do I? 😉 Caffeine is commonly found in coffee and colas giving us that “perky” or “awake” feeling. Although herbal teas won’t contain caffeine both green and black tea will. Keep in mind that black tea can have higher caffeine content than green tea though never as high as coffee.

Beverage Caffeine
Brewed coffee, 8 oz 95-200 mg
Brewed decaffeinated coffee, 8 oz 2-212 mg
Black tea, 8 oz 14-70 mg
Green tea, 8 oz 24-45 mg

Table Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372

Special Thanks to Trinh Le for her assistance with this post!


  1. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/green-tea
  2. http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/antioxidants-in-green-and-black-tea
  3. http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/tea-types-and-their-health-benefits
  4. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/23/whats-in-your-green-tea/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Photo Credits:

  1. http://img1.southernliving.timeinc.net/sites/default/files/image/2010/09/southern-secrets/sweet-tea-l.jpg
  2. http://www.tiestatea.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Black-Tea-Health-Benefits.jpg
  3. http://www.mcquearydental.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Green-Tea-Good-or-Bad.jpg?aacd3f


Wet Your Whistle!

You can lead a horse to water…

If you do not feel thirsty enough to drink 8 glasses of water a day, you are not alone. Research shows that the sense of thirst for older adults is less strong, even after exercising on a hot day.2

Drink early and often

Try drinking the 8 cups of water on a schedule:

• Start and end your day with a glass of water.

• Drink water with each meal, even at restaurants.

• Keep a reusable water bottle nearby during the day so you can drink between meals.

• Flavor your water with a slice of lemon or lime.

  • Finally, drink up before, during and after exercise!3

How does your body lose water?

• Going to the bathroom

• Sweat: increases with heat, exercise, and fever

• Breathing3

How does your body get the water back?

Drinking about 8 glasses of water a day and eating foods with water in them replaces what you lose.

Take Control

By drinking plenty of water, you can prevent symptoms of dehydration such as dark or reduced urine output, dry mouth, sleepiness, confusion, headaches and dizzy spells.3 Make staying hydrated part of your daily routine!

Hydration Handout: Hydration Handout

Guest Blogger:  Liesel Daughtery

References and photos

1. http://nutrition.tufts.edu/docs/pdf/releases/ModifiedMyPyramid.pdf

2. Kenney, WL, and P Chiu. Influence of age on thirst and fluid intake. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2001; 3309: 1524-1533.

3. “Hydration: Why it’s so important.” American Academy of Family Physicians: FamilyDoctor.org January 2010. Accessed 21 September 2010 at <http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/ home/healthy/food/general-nutrition/1013.html>.

4. http://www.getreligion.org/wp-content/photos/Scales_of_justice.jpg