Looking for tea news and information recently, this came up in the search:

The Cafes Serving Drinks with 25 Teaspoons of Sugar”What?!  Could this be true?  This article was written in the U.K., but do these same sugar in the drink levels apply to the U.S.?  If even close, it’s almost unbelievable to me, especially with tea beverages.  I don’t know the sugar content in the youth-popular boba teas, but I’m guessing they’re not exactly a walk down Healthy Lane either.

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.

Photo “Morceau de sucre” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Frédéric BISSON and is being posted unaltered (source)

Originally posted in March 2016 by Diane Walden