Many people all over the world enjoy the benefits of green tea these days. Loaded with antioxidants and nutrients that aid in preventing the onset of a wide range of ailments, the options for loose tea, green tea bags, and various sorts of green tea powders and supplements have never been more plentiful. In the midst of all this consumption of green tea products, there is the question of whether or not iced green tea is as healthy as hot green tea. The answer to that question has a lot to do with the type of product used, and the method of brewing.
With commercially brewed green tea beverages, the issue is not so much whether the iced version is healthier than a commercial beverage that is warmed before consumption. Rather, the focus is on what ingredients other than green tea are found in the beverage. In some cases, the product has very little tea, but is heavy on carbonated water and artificial flavors that provide no nutritional value whatsoever. In this scenario, it makes little difference whether the beverage is served hot or cold, since the nutritional content of the beverage itself is quite low.
When the hot or iced green tea is prepared using loose tea or even pre-packaged teabags, there is often a concern about the role of oxidation in the preparation of the tea. One school of thought holds that subjecting the tea to excessively hot temperatures decreases the presence of antioxidants in the brewed tea. According to this concept, tea that is brewed using water near body temperature is a better option, and has the added benefit of preventing the tea from becoming bitter. After the steeping is complete, the tea should be consumed either by drinking at room temperature or allowing it to chill in a refrigerator for a short time. In either case, drinking the tea soon after brewing is considered the best way to get the most nutrition from the drink.
Others believe iced green tea does not lose its nutritional value, and has just as many benefits as hot green tea. Here again, the method of brewing is considered important. One approach calls for pouring cold water into a clear glass container, and adding either green tea bags of loose green tea contained in a tea ball to the water. The container is placed in the sun for a couple of hours, allowing the tea to steep as the sun’s rays gradually increase the temperature of the water. From there, the tea can be poured over ice and enjoyed as a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day, with no fears of losing any of the health benefits.
There is some support for the idea that while iced green tea and hot green tea both contain a substantial amount of nutrients and antioxidants, those nutrients are more readily absorbed when the tea is hot. Cold beverages must be warmed within the body to a certain temperature before they begin to break down and allow absorption into the bloodstream. By drinking hot tea instead, the nutrients spread throughout the body faster, providing nourishment at a more efficient pace.
Since both iced green tea and hot green tea are consumed in both Eastern and Western cultures, supporters for both approaches are readily found in just about any setting. The difference of opinion tends to settle on the use of fresh tea leaves, versus commercial products such as lattes made with green tea powder, or various forms of diet supplements. Research that indicates that hot wins out over iced green tea, or vice versa, is not universally accepted, with critics usually pointing out flaws in the testing methods or the selection of the tea used for the research. At present, green tea lovers should choose iced or hot tea based on personal preference, making sure to use tea products that are not loaded with a lot of extra ingredients.