Sweet drinks based on green tea are everywhere.
And the implied reason for their existence is the leaf's healthful reputation.
That reputation stems from lab studies and reams of epidemiological research linking green tea to lower risk of heart and gum disease, and certain cancers.
And it's clear that these benefits flow primarily from the uncommon, catechin-class polyphenol “antioxidants” in green tea … which abound only in green tea, natural, non-Dutched cocoa, and dark chocolate.
The most important antioxidant catechin compound in green tea – often cited on beverage labels – is epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG.
Sadly, tests by Consumerlab.com suggest that some of the most popular green tea beverages don't deliver much EGCG or any of the other healthful catechins in green tea.
As The New York Times wrote in its May 23, 2013 report, “Some bottled varieties appear to be little more than sugar water, containing little of the antioxidants that have given the beverage its good name.”
On the bright side, Consumerlab's tests of actual green tea (loose leaf and bagged) found healthy levels of catechins.
To learn more – including the identities of some offending brands – read “What's in Your Green Tea?”, and tea-related articles in the Cocoa, Tea & Coffee section of our news archive..