Tea Beats Out Colas

We consume a lot of soft drinks. Colas/sodas are the beverage of choice at many fast food joints, sit-down restaurants, lunch wagons, and hotdog stands. However, tea is regaining a bit of its former popularity here in the U.S. (before coffee took over), especially with a surge in drinking iced tea and sweet tea. Tea bars are appearing as a more sleek and modern approach to the tea room. And more media attention is being paid to tea than ever before, or so it seems. One reason is that colas are losing favor in many sectors of the population for various reasons, as you will soon see.

Declining Popularity

There are a number of reasons for this. Click on each photo to read those reasons:

One tale of the first consumption of hot water with some leaves of the tea bush (Camellia sinensis) steeped in it to add flavor dates back over 5,000 years to Shen Nong, the Divine Farmer, in ancient China. That’s a long time for this beverage to undergo development and to be studied inside and out. In terms of both longevity and variety, tea is definitely way ahead of colas. I’ve seen one count of about a thousand different teas and bunches of varietals of that original tea bush. New locations are working to grow tea, with places like New Zealand and Brazil getting into the act. Some in Hawaii and the continental U.S. are also struggling to produce a decent crop. At the same time, places like the Darjeeling province in India, are trying hard to preserve the unique reputation of their teas, faced with challenges such as old tea plants and weather conditions that don’t always co-operate.

Since it’s modest beginning, Coca-Cola has changed and other colas/soft drinks have come on the market. But the variety doesn’t even come close to tea, and when you include the tea blends made with spices, fruits, flowers, herbs, and different types of teas, the difference is even more vast.

Colas come in aluminum cans and in bottles made of either glass or plastic. Teas come loose or in some type of bag that you use for steeping, or in a bottled concentrate that you then mix up. However, bottling of pre-made, ready-to-drink tea is more commonplace lately, with several well-known brands dominating the market. Comparing Coca-Cola to a popular bottled green tea with citrus makes the cola look downright healthy, since it has less than half the sodium while having about the same calories and carbohydrates. The bottled tea has coloring, honey, and things with long names such as Calcium disodium edta that colas generally don’t have. There are diet versions of bottled teas that use artificial sweeteners so you wouldn’t get the honey, but you also have the option of diet colas and less sodium. A better option for many is to avoid both the colas and the bottled versions of teas.

Caffeine comparisons consistently show that tea is about the same on average as colas. One site shows a range of 23 to 55.5 milligrams per eight ounces for colas, averaging 39 milligrams. They also show tea as ranging from 15 to 60 milligrams per eight ounces, for an average of 37.5 milligrams. Both are significantly less than what is in coffee and beverages that promote themselves as “energy drinks.”

Carbonation Issues

When you’re out and about and need for your favorite tea but can’t get it, you will be tempted to have a soft drink instead (soda, pop, coke, soda pop, fizzy drink, tonic, seltzer, mineral water, sparkling water, carbonated beverage, or whatever you call it). After all, soft drinks are thirst-quenching. For many, though, carbonation is a big issue.

According to Wikipedia:

Carbonation is the process of dissolving carbon dioxide in a liquid. The process usually involves carbon dioxide under high pressure. When the pressure is reduced, the carbon dioxide is released from the solution as small bubbles, which causes the solution to become effervescent, or “fizz”. An example of carbonation is the dissolving of carbon dioxide in water, resulting in carbonated water. Carbonated water is a a [sic] primary component of soft drinks.

Carbonation raises the pH level of the liquid it’s in, making it acidic. That can be a problem for those sensitive to it (causes stomach upset). Of course, tea can cause that same kind of upset, especially many green teas. But carbonation and the accompanying acidity seems to be more of a problem, affecting teeth, bones, and other areas, at least that the claim being made in articles like this one but refuted in articles such as this. However, the consideration isn’t just the health risk claims, especially since, as you can see, what one source says another refutes.

A more pressing issue for many is chugging something that can make you start burping, hiccupping, and more. In addition, the carbonation impacts your tongue, distorting the flavor of foods eaten along with that burpee, hiccuppee beverage (might be why fast food joints are so keen on serving them – just a theory). And if any ends up being snorted out your nose if you happen to laugh while having a mouthful, the effect will not be as delicate as when the same thing happens with tea. In fact, it can be rather harsh, per some folks’ experience.

A Friendly Tip

Next time you’re in the beverage aisle of the grocery store or being asked what you would like to drink when dining out, stop a moment and reflect on all this. Hopefully, you will pass on the soft drinks and stick with water, saving your palate for some of that premium tea at home.

© 2017-2021 A.C. Cargill photos and text


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