Counting carbohydrates is an important part of some people’s diets, including people with diabetes and those trying to lose weight. While breads, grains and sweets are the primary source of carbohydrates for many individuals, drinks such as soda, juice and tea all have some carbohydrates in them. If you are watching your carbs, tea is a relatively smart drink choice, compared to sugary sodas or juices.
Teas come in a wide variety of styles and preparations that may have slight differences in their content of carbohydrates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that standard black or green tea prepared with tap water has around 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per 6 ounce serving. Switching to an herbal tea like chamomile reduces the carbohydrate content slightly to 0.4 grams per 6 ounce glass. Unsweetened instant tea from a powder has 0.3 grams. The amount of total carbohydrates in a glass of tea derives from the amount of sugar, starch and fiber in the drink.
While freshly brewed tea contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per 6 ounce glass, anything you add to the tea to alter its flavor can increase this figure. For example, 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar adds 4 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 ounce of nonfat milk adds 1.5 grams. If you prefer honey in your tea, you are adding 17.3 grams of carbohydrates for every tablespoon you put in. Carefully monitor how much sweetener you put in your tea if you do not want to convert it into a high-carbohydrate drink.
Not all sweeteners will add carbohydrates to your tea, however. The American Dietetic Association notes that you can avoid excess carbohydrates and still keep the sweetness by choosing a non-nutritive sweetener like saccharin, aspartame, stevia or sucralose. These sweeteners come from both natural and synthetic sources, and are anywhere from 160 to 700 times sweeter than sugar by volume. Non-nutritive sweeteners allow you to add a very small amount to your tea for the same amount of sweetness as sugar and few, if any, carbohydrates.
Ensuring you do not consume too many carbohydrates in a day may be an efficient way of controlling your diabetes or losing weight, but you should speak to your doctor about carbohydrate counting to make certain you have enough of the nutrient daily. The American Diabetes Association recommends monitoring your serving sizes in addition to carbohydrates so you do not overshoot your goal. Reducing your caloric intake is crucial to weight loss, so choosing a low calorie, artificial sweetener can doubly benefit your diet plan.
- "Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Use of Nutritive and Nonnutritive Sweeteners; Valerie B. Duffy, Ph.D., R.D., et al.; February 2004
- Healthaliciousness.com: Side by Side Nutrition Facts Comparison for Brewed Tea, Chamomile Tea and Instant Tea
- Healthaliciousness.com: Side by Side Nutrition Comparison for Granulated Sugar, Honey and Nonfat Milk
- American Diabetes Association: Carbohydrate Counting