By Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD, Ochsner Health
Featuring an array of brightly colored teas with names like Tiger Tea, Sweet Tart and Wonder Woman, and promises of energy, focus and revved metabolism, loaded tea has been popping up at health food stores across the country. It’s become wildly popular – but is it worth the hype? Read on to learn more about what you need to know about loaded tea.
What is loaded tea?
Tea is the quintessential health beverage; it’s simple, pure and packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals.
But loaded tea isn’t “true tea.” Rather, it’s a blend of caffeine and herbal stimulants, and contains most of the same ingredients in energy drinks: caffeine, guarana, ginseng, taurine, inositol and high levels of niacin, which can elicit a skin-tingling sensation. A single-sized serving also contains 160 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, almost twice the amount in a cup of coffee (100 milligrams) or a Red Bull (80 milligrams).
Exact formulations of loaded tea vary by store, but most also include add-ins like sugar-free syrups as well as:
Is loaded tea good for me?
The multiple stimulants found in loaded tea can leave us feeling jittery, spiking our heart rate and blood pressure. They can also interfere with our sleep, leading to a cycle of energy highs and lows that leaves us feeling sluggish, craving carbs and looking for additional caffeinated pick-me-ups.
Considering this, you should think of loaded tea along the same lines as an energy drink, versus a true, pure tea. If you do opt to drink loaded tea, limit your consumption to one serving a day, and preferably not after lunchtime.
You might also consider drinking only half the beverage, saving the other half for the next day. Or dilute it (so it’s half loaded tea, half iced herbal tea) to give it more volume and save the remainder for the following day.
For more on loaded tea, tune into Molly’s FUELED Wellness + Nutrition podcast where she’s joined by Ochsner Eat Fit registered dietitian Maria Sylvester Terry to discuss the drink’s history and health impacts.