Looking for tea news and information recently, this came up in the search:
“The Cafes Serving Drinks with 25 Teaspoons of Sugar”
The question to me is “do people really know how much sugar they’re drinking”? A second question would be “do they care”? It seems that there are two trends going on in the U.S. These are trends I regularly read about in email newsletters from trade associations in food and beverage. One trend is the growing number of consumers wanting locally-sourced or, if a product is not locally grown, organic and raw options. This group cares about quality, health and freshness.
The second trend is a growing amount of hamburger and dessert-centric concepts where food loaded with the most fat, salt and sugar is the theme, along with huge portions.
How does tea play into all of this? At this point, it looks like the fastest growing tea retailers (overall) in the U.S. are the boba/slush/milk tea shops and franchises. This, to me, is pushing tea to the very edges of the word. Can anyone truly discern the flavor of the tea hidden in the additions? So the question may arise: does the average U.S. consumer not enjoy tea for its own taste? I’ve found that people who say they don’t drink tea and are a ‘coffee person’ aren’t really drinking coffee, any more than many self-described ‘tea people’ are drinking tea. Often, both tea and coffee drinkers are drinking a bit of tea or coffee drowning in milk or cream and sugar or syrup.
So why do people pay high prices to drink frou-frou specialty drinks that are so bad for them? It’s very simple: Sugar and caffeine are addictive, and people in the business, most especially chains who have the resources to stay abreast of medical and health information, continue to offer drinks that give caffeine and sugar addicts their ‘fix’, and make voluminous sales and high margins doing it. Why is this any different than, say, the candy or dessert industry? In the tea and coffee industry, the core product is not sugar-centric. Or is it?
Just in case there’s any doubt about what refined sugar does to the human body, this gives an overview. Bottom line: nothing good.
If you’re young, none of this matters, some think. Not so. Just looking around us every day, we see a younger and younger demographic with weight issues that are affecting their health, even in small children. And now we find that artificial sweeteners are more of a problem than they are a panacea.
It appears the most effective way to break the vicious cycle of ‘sweetness addiction’ is just to stop eating sweets completely, to break the addiction, which probably is not going to happen for any of us unless we are absolutely forced to.
The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 tsps. of sugar daily. One cup of apple juice takes care of that. The average daily individual consumption of sugar in the U.S. is 22 tsps., almost four times the recommendation by WHO. And yet, that one large chain-store drink mentioned at the beginning of this post exceeds that.
So what’s the visual on 25 tsps. of white sugar? I just measured it out into a clear glass, then poured that into a measuring cup and came up with about 6 oz. of sugar. Think about eating that, by itself, with a spoon. Gagging? Somehow, when it’s ‘hidden’ in coffee and cream or tea and milk, it just doesn’t seem all that unhealthy or cloying, especially in a beverage with as many benefits as tea is known for. There’s a show on cable TV called “My 600 Pound Life”. I have listened to the stories of the 4-5 episodes I have watched to date and each one of them seems almost identical. Most are eating obsessively to cover up past unresolved emotional pain of some sort, and all are completely addicted to food, mostly sweets or fats, and all are killing themselves with their cup, glass, fork and spoon. And they are in their 30’s and 40’s and even younger. Obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease are just some of the results of over-consumption of sugar.
But there is the other trend: Local, raw, organic, healthy, low-fat, fresh. I hope that trend gains even more followers. The benefit from the sugar/fat decadence trend: Feeling good….very temporarily. The benefit from the healthy/fresh trend: Feeling good….for a lifetime.
Exactly. These massive companies can often steer clear of health law because of lobbying and other factors. It all starts with education. We need people to realize the harmful affects of their habits and consumption patterns. Great article and well said.
You are so right Diane. Sugar is a killer and it’s reached its deadly claws down to our youngest members, our children. As a result of childhood obesity ( a phrase unheard of 50 years ago) and type 2 diabetes, this is the first generation of children born in the U.S. who are not expected to live longer than their parents. What a horrible legacy that is. I had hoped tea would be a partial solution to these problems but people have managed to turn tea into something destructive as well through the additional of sugar.
Michelle, I think one problem is that many businesses selling tea (and other products) aren’t able to make a profit if they don’t sell more commercial beverages (with sugar). I think what Connor said is right. It all begins with being well informed. This should come from honest vendors, but I think the government should also step in with certain regulations.
The link to the story didn’t work for me. Here’s another on it: http://money.cnn.com/2016/02/17/news/companies/sugar-coffee-drinks/
@Diane thanks for the link. The one in the article indeed doesn’t work.
This is indeed a very worrisome trend. While it’s known for a long time that many drinks contain way more sugar than is good for you, these products still have strong momentum. In China, I also see the younger generation switching to boba drinks. Starbucks is also very popular here.
The growing popularity healthy and natural food is a bright spot though. These people are better informed, and I hope they will keep informing others.
Sam, thanks for the information from the perspective of China. It’s interesting how tea consumption in Britain and Ireland is somewhat decreasing as the coffee giants do their thing there, while here in the U.S. tea consumption is growing . I guess it’s always that ‘something new’ that especially young people are drawn to. The consumer pressure here in the U.S. for healthy options in food and beverage is encouraging, at least in some demographics.