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How bad is sweet tea?

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I was wondering. I'm from Virginia, so I grew up on it, and some times I have it up to 4 glasses a day. I have really tried  to cut back and limit the amount. I notice when I get it at the market, its about 100 calories a glass. But thats not quite as bad as cokes or something.

Does the extra sugar cause weight gain even if the calories are within the right amount? I still have 40 lbs to lose, and so far Im kinda stuck, so I'm thinking about cutting out the sweet tea. Or maybe limiting it to a few times a week.


What do y'all think?


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Sweet tea is that the kind that is made with simple syrup?
Simple syrup is one part water to one part sugar. 

Nope, just sugar and water

The diference is sweet tea is made with the sugar,  while the tea is actually brewing then made iced cold.


Calories are calories.  As long as you figure it into your calories for the day, you should be fine, but it would be easier if you could do with it less sweet or not sweet at all.  I've found that I need less sweetener if I brew some fruit flavored tea in with the regular tea, but I was brought up on unsweet tea, even though I lived in the south, and only started drinking the sweet stuff when I got married.

Try as I may, I simply cannot drink unsweet tea. Its just nasty stuff! Hot tea is gross too.  But I can cut back I think. I just wonder if sugar can cause weight gain, or if just the calories that matter.

I rarely drink soft drinks, at least.


Tea is definitely better than soft drinks!  The acid in them eats your teeth, and they probably have more calories as well.

I really don't think sugar causes weight gain - calories do.  I like to use Splenda, but there are many here that say artificial sweetners are bad.  Your call there.

Depending on how tall your glass is, it could very well be just as bad or even worse than coke. 100 cals of cola is around 250ml or 9fl oz.

Is there any way you could sweeten the tea with honey instead? It`s much better for you because it has some nutritional value, whereas refined sugar is practically junk.

I'm a georgia girl, and it was a hard thing to give up, but I did. Mainly because the calorie estimates from restaurants vary hugely (and I gave up processed sugar as a whole).

When I absolutely have to have some (like after doing yard work), I do half sugar, half splenda. Same flavor, fewer calories. Also, keep in mind that many times a serving is 8oz, and a glass is usually 12-16oz.

In the winter I switch to hot tea, while I can't stand unsweet iced tea, any hot tea with a bit of a fruit flavor is quite tasty without any added sugar.

I live in TX and sweet tea is served everywhere here too.  I used to drink it, but as I gave up soda for the amount of sugar, I try to keep my daily intake under 50g....which I hit everyday with just fruit :0

A cup of sugar contains 774calories!!!  I don't know about the tea you drink, but here, they easily put a cup of sugar in a pitcher of tea.  I have made it in my pitcher that holds 8cups or 64oz to the brim!!!  It averages 96-100cals for an 8oz cup, and at 4 glasses a day(keep in mind 8oz servings) that is 400cals!!!

It is also 15g of sugar in a cup, so 60g of sugar in 4 8oz glasses!

I actually have finally made the switch to unsweet tea...I know, everyone says it's nasty!  Now, I can not drink sweet tea..I think it is way too sweet.  I sometimes fill it to the top with unsweet and then add just a pinch of sweet tea, like at Bill Miller, or some Splenda...but mostly unsweet.(iced, not must have Splenda)

most places will let you order 1/2 and 1/2, that will help you cut it down.  Also if the tea is brewed, not boiled, it helps decrease that bitter taste that you have with unsweet tea.

Good luck finding what works for you, hope this helped :)

Me personally I think unsweetened tea is not nasty at all. lol  Southern sweet tea on the other hand I find feels like I'm choking on sugar/sweetness (tho tbh I've only ever had McD's sweet tea...made it too*shudders*).  I usually brew herbal teas, fruit-flavored teas or green teas, which have some sweetness on their own.  If it needs a kick I add lemon.  I used to sweeten a cup of tea (hot or cold) with two spoonfuls of sugar, then a spoonful of honey, now I only use lemon (if anything).

I figure you can try to wean yourself off sweet tea or maybe cut back a little if you want.  But really, as long as it's part of an otherwise balanced diet and you exercise, having sweet tea should not be a specific cause of weight gain.

Well, we'll have to disagree on that. I think unsweet tea is sickening to my stomach and  bitter tasting, and hot tea is something I would never touch in a million years. But to each his/her own. Sweet tea here in Virginia is not as deeply sweetened as it is further South , anyway, but I just can't fathom having anything else to go with my meal. I drink tea year 'round, but only iced tea sweetened.


Someone mentioned honey instead of sugar- that would be different, but I think I could certainly go for that ! Thanks for the suggestion.


Original Post by richmondbread:

 Sweet tea here in Virginia is not as deeply sweetened as it is further South , anyway, but I just can't fathom having anything else to go with my meal. I drink tea year 'round, but only iced tea sweetened.

 Lol, this is true. In georgia, we think of virginia/west virginia sweet tea as 'half sweet' and still too bitter to drink : )
Granted we also think sweet tea should taste like syrup...

Original Post by richmondbread:

Someone mentioned honey instead of sugar- that would be different, but I think I could certainly go for that ! Thanks for the suggestion.


Honey and table sugar are calorically similiar (~50 cals/tbsp) so making that switch isn't going to save any calories.

Just try to gradually decrease the amount of sweetner you're adding. Today, make your sweet tea with a tbsp of sugar. Tomorrow, make it with 3/4 tbsp. Ween yourself off the sweetness!  

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I would agree with everyone else that as long as you can fit it in to your daily calories, go for it.  Personally, I don't like to drink my calories.  If I am going to acount for them, I want them to be good solid food.  I do occasionally have a beverage with calories (a glass or wine or a SF hot chocolate) but that is rare.  When I start to do that, I think OK do I want a glass of wine or a huge salad or whole wheat roll, etc instead?

I would like to disagree with the notion that so long as you fit it into your calories for the day, consuming 400 calories of table type sugar is ok.  It's not.  White sugar, the kind used to sweeten tea has absolutely no nutrional value for your body except for calories.  Each time you drink it, your blood sugar rises and crashes and puts tremendous strain on your pancreas.  It's a slow road to diabetes as well.  I'm sure you eat other things with sugar each day as well, so you could easily be scarfing down hundreds of calories a day in sugar, and maybe 30% or more of your calories in a food with zero nutritional value to your body. 

i worked in a restraunt in GA.  For each vat of sweet tea,  those large brew things in the rest with the spickets at the bottom,  we put in 1 pitcher of sugar into that,  but sometimes you need two because someone would tell you your tea was not sweet enough for them,  after doing that,  i was so grossed by sweet tea i switched,  unsweet and right on top a dash of sweet.  i dont think you can get the acc cal count for rest tea, depends on who made the tea.

Sugar does not cause diabetes.  See this article (and there are many more if you look): tml

What it says is that an unhealthy lifestyle increases the risk for diabetes, including inactivity and obesity, but that sugar alone cannot cause diabetes.

400 calories of sugar is a lot, but for a man who is eating nearly 3000 calories, it is not nearly as large a percentage as for a woman who is eating 1800 calories.  And it depends largely on exactly how much sugar you are putting in, too - sweet tea is, as previous posters have noted, largely varied. 

That being said, Richmondbread, I would suggest you track exactly how much sugar you are using each day, and try to reduce the amount of sugar in your tea, little by little (for a gallon of tea, I would recommend 1/8-1/4 cup reduction per week), or find lower calorie substitutes.  LIke I said in my earlier post, I am a fan of Splenda, but I typically only put in between 1/4-1/2 cup in a gallon, and only drink about 20 ounces most days.  Stevia is a sweetener I have seen others talk about here on CC, and it is supposed to be a natural, low calorie sweetener.  I've started seeing it on the shelf in the baking section with the sugar.

Also, if you do not allow the water to boil when you make your tea, the tea is less bitter (I think someone else noted that as well.  And the fruity tea bags added in make my iced tea a bit more naturally sweet to my taste.

Stevia isn't supposed to be a natural, low calorie sweetener, it is a natural zero calorie sweetener that spoon for spoon is 200 times sweeter than sugar in it's concentrated extract form.  I've seen it sold as ground up organic leaves and as the white powdered concentrated extract.  It's easy as pie to grow it in the summer anywhere south of Alaska I suspect and just one small leaf can sweeten a cup of tea for most people.  Dry the leaves and then grind them in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder and you've got practically free sweetener, no calories and no negative effects on your blood sugar.    It takes some getting used to but I'd take something that is a natural extract over Splenda anyday...

Of course sugar doesn't cause diabetes, but simple sugars in all their wonderful forms,  being a large part of someone's diet on a regular basis, can be a contributing cause to becoming diabetic.

The only reason it can be a contributing factor is because it lends itself to obesity.  Not that I'm recommending a cup a day of sugar (that would totally kill most diet plans - not to mention negatively impact the nutrition your body needs!), just trying to keep things in perspective.

I'm glad you know about stevia.  I'd heard it mentioned, but I didn't know much about it (obviously).  Are there any potential side-effects to be aware of, like there are with some other herbs, or interactions with medications?  I'll see if I can find some plants or seeds somewhere and experiment!

So, Richmondbread - what's your take on all this?  Have you gotten the info you were wanting?

Puh, I'm sure if someone looks hard enough, there will be someone, somewhere on the web that's found something wrong with stevia.  I know there's been a big effort to keep it out of North America for a long time and I wouldn't be surprised if there was info floating around, probably originating from Monsanto or people in the sugar industry..  But I also know it's used all over the world as a sweetener.  I have read that in Japan, stevia is used as a sweetener in over half of all sweetened products sold in the country and I believe, but I could be wrong, it's also in Diet Coke there too.   I've been using it going on 5 years, in every version, including growing my own and so have many, many of my friends and relatives.  You can bake with it, use it in liquids hot and cold etc.   When you first try it, it's a bit different than sugar, with, some say, a bit of a licorice taste, but like anything else, you get used to it and soon prefer it to other things, at least in my case.  

In Canada, a bottle of the extract about the size of a bottle of aspirin say, sells for 10 bucks, had 900 servings I think, and replaces 13,500 calories of sugar. 

Cool - I'll be looking for it to put in my garden with the peppermint - Yum, sweet peppermint tea!

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