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Why is ice tea healthy?

Ice tea benefits and side effects

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First published: 30.Sept.2023

Tea has been used for thousands of years for its healthy properties, and it is the second most consumed drink worldwide, after water.
This article will focus on ice tea, a refreshing beverage that can be consumed year round, and that is packed with potent antioxidants.

Not only will it quench your thirst and keep you hydrated, but it also has many properties that can help you lose weight, improve your skin, and promote your digestive health.

In this Article (Index)

glass with ice tea and lemon slice in it, lemons to the upper right behind glass
Ice Tea. Source


Tea is without doubt the Queen Of Beverages. It is drank in many countries around the world and is a staple food in many cultures. It is an infusion packed with vitamins and minerals, low in calories and with a potent taste.
A great source of antioxidants, nutrients that stimulate our immune system and fight free radicals, the molecules that oxidize our cells, making them age.

Tea contains othere bioactive components such as tannins that give it its characteristic bitter taste and hafe an astringent effect. It also has other substances like catequines with anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties. These effects have been studied in depth in green tea.

It contains caffeine, indispensable for many people to start their day. However, unlike coffee, the caffeine in tea is absorbed over a period of several hours so its effect does not go away so quickly. A cup in the morning will provide an extra dose of energy that will last for hours despite the fact that tea contains less caffeine than coffee (1)(2).

Tea is obtained from the leaves of Camellia sinensis, an evergreen shrub and it is, after water, the most widely consumed beverage in the world.
It is believed that tea was first cultivated in northeastern India, northern Myanmar and southwest China, but the excact place where it first appeared is unknown. Tea has been with us for a long time. There is evidence that it was used at least 5000 years ago in China (3).

Farming, harvesting and preparing tea is a major source of income for millions of families living in developing countries. The tea industry is a cash crop in some of the world's poorest countries, and as it requires a lot of manual labor it generates employment in remote areas with no other job options. Furthermore, as one of the most important cash crops, tea can play a significant role in rural development, reducing poverty allowing access to affordable diets in developing countries.

It also plays an important role in the culture of many societies where people won't let a day go by without drinking a cup of this delicious beverage, not only for its taste, but also for its health benefits.
It is the ideal drink to accompany any meal, as an aperitiff, or a great afternoon of reading and relaxation.

Ice Tea

With the arrival of warm weather, nothing is more refreshing or healthy than a glass of ice tea: it will boost the dose of antioxidants you receive in comparison to a cup of hot tea (4).

You have surely drank cold tea to cool off during summer. It is a refreshing beverage that also helps to quench your thirst and hydrate. In this it is similar to many other cold beverages, however, tea is not only tasty but it also provides important health benefits. Below we mention them and also why it is good for your palate and your body.

Two Recipes for Ice Tea

Ice tea is a tea that has been brewed hot and allowed to cool or brewed cold. Iced tea (with a final "d") is hot tea that has been poured over ice.

Having said this, you have two ways to prepare this refreshing drink: cold or hot brew.

Hot Brewed Tea

You can use either green or black tea varieties for your ice tea. Prepare the tea as you usually do, in a teapot, with loose tea leaves or tea bags, to the strength you prefer, and after it reaches room temperature, strain it, or remove the tea bags and pour into a pitcher. Place it in the refrigerator till it is cold, and enjoy its refreshing taste!

Cold Brew

Place tea leaves or tea bags in a pticher with room temperature water and let the tea infuse in the refrigerator. A study has shown that "the chemical components of cold tea infusions increased with increasing duration of brewing, and a maximal increment was observed during the first 2 h of brewing. All chemical components under investigation, except caffeine, were found to be higher in the cold tea infusions over 8 h as compared in the hot tea infusions. The antioxidant ability of cold tea infusion increased with increasing duration of brewing and approached the plateau after 12 hours.... the cold tea infusions of 10, 12, and 14 h of brewing had the highest score in taste, the highest score in total acceptability, and the most popular in aroma, respectively" (4).

Tropical Ice Tea

and you can also make "Tropical ice tea" by adding fruit such as oranges, pineapple, berries, mango or kiwi. The fruit will provide some additional vitamins and minerals as well as flavor.

Ice Tea Benefits

Some of the benefits of drinking ice tea:

Vitamins and Minerals

It is a natural source of vitamins and minerals. It provides your body with potassium, magnesium and with water-soluble vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B3), folic acid (vitamin B9), and vitamin C (5)(6).

Digestive Health

It improves your digestion. Drinking green tea with lemon after a meal enhances its antioxidants (7), prevents inflammation of the gastric mucosa (8), and promotes a faster gastric emptying, and lowered the glycemic response to starchy foods (9).
Its bioactive components can lower the absorption rate of sugars and fats (10). Finally it also helps relieve chest congestion (11).


It is refreshing. Cold tea during summer is a great alternative to defeat the heat, keep hydrated and avoid dehydration.

Mixing it with mint or berries will enhance the freshness. Furthermore, it is a powerful ally for your brain, boosting mental agility and overall nervous system health (12).

Tea and its hydrating effects

> > Hydration: Are coffee or tea the same as water?


Drinking ice tea is an excellent way to hydrate your skin. Drinking it without sugar (or milk) will promote its antioxidant properties (13). Antioxidants have the ability to block the free radicals that damage the body's cells and are a key element in delaying aging; in this sense ice tea is ideal to maintain and promote your skin's health (14).

Tea for skincare

> > Tea for skincare

Weight Loss

Lose weight: Drinking it without sugar is not fattening because it doesn't have any calories. And as if this wasn't enough, it will help you burn more calories because the caffeine and catequines it contains act as an accelerant for your metabolism (15)(16). Drinking cold beverages (at least in rats) "had a favourable effect on lean body mass accompanied by a decrease in fat mass gain," and increased the calories burned (17); the combined effect of all these factors makes you burn more calories and lose weight.

Side Effects

Tea (iced or hot) may have some side effects if you drink to much of it. Caffeine and tannins are the culprits:

Tannins are one of tea's components and it may interfer with iron absorption, but the studies show contradicting outcomes, so the case is still open (18).

Caffeine on the other hand has well known side effects (19). It does not usually cause problems below the 300 mg⁄day level, but beyond that intake it can provoke:

  • Sleeping problems, insomnia.
  • Hedaches, dizziness, fast heart rate.
  • Anxiety and restlessness.
  • Dehydration.
  • Dependency (the need to take more of it for the same results.)

Take-home point

Enjoy your ice tea with moderation.

International Tea Day

International Tea Day is observed each year on May 21. A good way to celebrate it, is to learn more about its properties to be able to chose one that is suitable for you.
It is also a great opportunity to increase public awareness about the need for sustainable development policies for farming and consuming tea, as well as addressing climate change impacts.

Tea cultivation is very sensitive to changes in farming conditions, it can only grow under very specific ecological conditions. This means that very few countries can cultivate tea many of which will suffer the consequences of climate change. May 21st is therefore a day to raise awareness about poverty and subsistence farming in underdeveloped countries, and increase the engagement of our governments in taking action against climate change.

basket with freshly picked green tea leaves
Green tea leaves

Closing Comments

Brew your tea, cool it in the refrigerator, and relax as you sip it!

References and Further Reading

(1) Bunker ML, McWilliams M. (1979). Caffeine content of common beverages. J Am Diet Assoc. 1979 Jan;74(1):28-32. PMID: 762339

(2) Julius Schuster, Ellen S. Mitchell, (2019). More than just caffeine: psychopharmacology of methylxanthine interactions with plant-derived phytochemicals. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, Vol 89, p263-274, ISSN 0278-5846,

(3) Chen ZM, Lin Z. (2015). Tea and human health: biomedical functions of tea active components and current issues. J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2015 Feb;16(2):87-102. doi: 10.1631/jzus.B1500001. PMID: 25644464

(4) Shu-Hua Chiang, Mei-Fang Tsou, Chi-Yue Chang and Chih-Wei Chen (2020). Physicochemical characteristics, sensory quality, and antioxidant properties of Paochung tea infusion brewed in cold water. International Journal of Food Properties, 23:1, 1611-1623, DOI: 10.1080/10942912.2020.1820519

(5) Klepacka J, Tonska E, Rafalowski R, Czarnowska-Kujawska M, Opara B., (2021). Tea as a Source of Biologically Active Compounds in the Human Diet. Molecules. 2021 Mar 9;26(5):1487. doi: 10.3390/molecules26051487. PMID: 33803306

(6) Peng, P, Wang, L, Shu, G, Li, J, Chen, L. (2020). Nutrition and aroma challenges of green tea product as affected by emerging superfine grinding and traditional extraction. Food Sci Nutr. 2020; 8: 4565–4572.

(7) Purdue University (2017). Citrus juice, vitamin C give staying power to green tea antioxidants. November 13, 2007, accessed Sept. 30, 2023

(8) Calin Stoicov, Reza Saffari, JeanMarie Houghton, (2009). Green tea inhibits Helicobacter growth in vivo and in vitro. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, Vol 33:5, p473-478, ISSN 0924-8579,

(9) Freitas D, Boué et al., (2022). Glycemic response, satiety, gastric secretions and emptying after bread consumption with water, tea or lemon juice: a randomized crossover intervention using MRI. Eur J Nutr. 2022 Apr;61(3):1621-1636. doi: 10.1007/s00394-021-02762-2. Epub 2022 Jan 11. PMID: 35013789

(10) Brimson JM, Prasanth MI, Kumaree KK, Thitilertdecha P, Malar DS, Tencomnao T, Prasansuklab A. (2022). Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis): A Current Update on Use in Diabetes, Obesity, and Cardiovascular Disease. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 21;15(1):37. doi: 10.3390/nu15010037. PMID: 36615695

(11) Shin DU, et al., (2022). Camellia sinensis L. Alleviates Pulmonary Inflammation Induced by Porcine Pancreas Elastase and Cigarette Smoke Extract. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Aug 28;11(9):1683. doi: 10.3390/antiox11091683. PMID: 36139757

(12) Mancini E, Beglinger C, Drewe J, Zanchi D, Lang UE, Borgwardt S. (2017). Green tea effects on cognition, mood and human brain function: A systematic review. Phytomedicine. 2017 Oct 15;34:26-37. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2017.07.008. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28899506

(13) Korir MW, Wachira FN, Wanyoko JK, Ngure RM, Khalid R. (2013). The fortification of tea with sweeteners and milk and its effect on in vitro antioxidant potential of tea product and glutathione levels in an animal model. Food Chem. 2014 Feb 15;145:145-53. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.08.016. Epub 2013 Aug 11. PMID: 24128460

(14) Prasanth MI, Sivamaruthi BS, Chaiyasut C, Tencomnao T. (2019). A Review of the Role of Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) in Antiphotoaging, Stress Resistance, Neuroprotection, and Autophagy. Nutrients. 2019 Feb 23;11(2):474. doi: 10.3390/nu11020474. PMID: 30813433

(15) Acheson KJ, Zahorska-Markiewicz B, Pittet P, Anantharaman K, Jé quier E.(2015). Caffeine and coffee: their influence on metabolic rate and substrate utilization in normal weight and obese individuals. Am J Clin Nutr. 1980 May;33(5):989-97. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/33.5.989. PMID: 7369170

(16) Hursel R, Viechtbauer W, Dulloo AG, Tremblay A, Tappy L, Rumpler W, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. (2011). The effects of catechin rich teas and caffeine on energy expenditure and fat oxidation: a meta-analysis. Obes Rev. 2011 Jul;12(7):e573-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00862.x. Epub 2011 Mar 2. PMID: 21366839

(17) Ragi, M., El-Helou, N., El-Mallah, C., Eid, A., and Obeid, O. (2021). Effect of temperature and/or sweetness of beverages on body composition in rats.ritish Journal of Nutrition, 125(8), 934-942. doi:10.1017/S0007114520003359

(18) Delimont NM, Haub MD, Lindshield BL. (2017). The Impact of Tannin Consumption on Iron Bioavailability and Status: A Narrative Review. Curr Dev Nutr. 2017 Jan 19;1(2):1-12. doi: 10.3945/cdn.116.000042. PMID: 29955693

(19) National Library of Medicine. Caffeine. Accessed Sept., 30, 2023

About this Article

Why Is Ice Tea Healthy?, P. Eichenblat

©2023, 30 Sep. 2023. Update scheduled for 30 Sep. 2025.

Tags: antioxidants, Tea for skincare, Tea antioxidants for Cold Sores, Green Tea Health Benefits, Tea hydrates you

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