There is an undeniable charm in anything deemed ‘instant’ for people who are rushing from jobs, homes, classes, and kids. Instant tea, which takes away the pain of brewing tea for all of 5-10 minutes is one such example. All you need to do is add hot water to the tea mix and voila, your hot cuppa is ready. The magic of getting your food in a matter of seconds has the convenience that no one can deny.
But is convenience always good? Does it mean healthy food choices? How nutritious is instant tea when compared to a regular cup of herbal, black, or green tea? The answer depends on what you are looking for.
What is Instant Tea?
Instant tea is made by extracting the moisture from fresh tea leaves, tea waste or fermented leaves. It usually contains added sugar and dried milk. It is available in powder form to which one needs to just add hot water. It has been around since 1885. The early varieties were made with concentrated tea extract, evaporated milk, and sugar. Unfortunately, these were were not as popular. Most of these early instant teas seemed like a watered-down version of the original tea.
The change in this product came with the development of spray drying technology. Today manufacturers also use spray drying, vacuum drying, and freeze-drying technology to dry the brewed tea leaves. Modern food tech has allowed manufacturers to develop and concentrate the tea under low temperatures which helped in preserving the aroma and flavor of the tea. The most commonly available varieties are made from black, green and oolong teas. You can also get fruit and herbal teas.
Instant Tea Vs Brewed Tea
Is instant tea better than regular brewed tea? The answer depends on what you are looking for. If you want convenience, the former will score higher. But if you want a stronger dose of antioxidants, you may want to opt for a freshly brewed cup. Tea leaves are very high in antioxidants. But the more you process it, the more you lower its antioxidant properties. Instant tea, which goes through more processing, ranks lower in antioxidants than brewed tea. However, a number of these teas are also fortified with antioxidant-rich foods like ginseng or ginger extracts.
Why Opt For Instant Tea?
There are good reasons why instant tea is so popular and it’s not just about convenience.
- Less waste: When you normally brew tea, you have tea leaves that are left over as waste. Instant tea, on the other hand, is available as a powder that is completely soluble in water. Hence, there is no waste involved.
- Convenience: As stated above, the biggest advantage of this tea is convenience. All you need is tea powder and hot water. It is easy to carry when traveling or when you’re on the move.
- Antioxidants: Although it has fewer antioxidants than freshly brewed tea, it still contains quite a few to help your body fight diseases. A study on different types of teas, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that all samples (including instant tea) contained traces of antioxidants known as catechins. Additional fortifications in certain brands improve the antioxidant count of the tea.
- Reliable outcome: Instant tea is a good choice if you are not confident of your tea-making skills. Because the proportions are already decided, you can be assured of fairly predictable and positive results every time you make tea.
What To Remember When Buying Instant Tea
It is important to remember that all instant teas are not the same. Even if you have a favorite brand, there are other factors you must keep in mind. So, check the label for:
- Additives: When picking instant tea, pay attention to the additives, especially the sugar content. Check for unsweetened, pre-sweetened, or sweetened with a sweetener. Sweetening additives include glucose. Be aware if the formulation uses sweeteners such as aspartame or sodium saccharine. Other additives that you should be aware of are artificial flavoring and colors.
- Fortifications: Some teas are fortified with additional elements to increase their benefits. This could include ginger, ginseng, or vitamin C fortification.
- Organic or not: As a rule of thumb, buying organic is always a better choice despite the higher price tag. In the case of powder tea, this becomes doubly appropriate. Because instant tea is available in the form of powder, the chances of impurities are higher. An organic product does not contain any of these impurities.
- Type of tea: The most commonly available instant teas are black, green, or oolong. You can pick up the tea as per your preference. You can also pick instant tea according to flavoring, such as lemon. You also have the choice of picking between caffeinated and decaffeinated teas.
Instant tea is an easy and convenient option for those who want quick results. You can use it for a quick iced tea, taking it on the go or whenever you feel too lazy.