Honest Tea is not great for you. It is marketed as a USDA-certified organic beverage, but that doesn’t make it healthy. Honest Tea contains a staggering 18 grams of sugar per serving, and it also comes up short on antioxidants.
Honest Tea was founded in 1998 out of Bethedesa, Maryland. The company was conceived by Seth Goldman, an alumni of both Harvard and Yale. Inspired by his graduate business classes, Goldman set out to introduce a bottled beverage that was healthy, organic and based around fair trade principles.
Less than a decade after it was founded, Honest Tea was already generating an impressive $13.5 million in revenue. The drink surged in popularity—at one point, the New York Times even reported that Honest Tea was President Barack Obama’s favorite beverage. Coca-Cola took notice, purchasing the company for millions of dollars.
Honest Tea is undeniably successful—but is it really all that good for you? Let’s take a look at the label: the honey green tea variety has an incredible 19 grams of sugar per bottle. Of course, that contains honey... but even the classic green tea kind weighs in at around nine grams of sugar. That’s still less than say, a bottle of Coke (39 grams of sugar—and that’s just for a 12-ounce can), but it remains quite high for a beverage.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your daily sugar consumption: 37.5 grams per day for men and 25 grams for women. Regularly consuming more sugar than that can lead to obesity, which causes other serious health problems. And while drinking one Honest Tea every now and then probably won’t make you morbidly obese, a combination of sugary beverages and other poor diet choices will take their toll over time.
Even if you’re willing to overlook the high amount of sugar in Honest Tea, it’s a little harder to turn a blind eye to the fact that it offers almost none of the advantages of ordinary tea. When processed and bottled, Honest Tea loses most of its polyphenols. These are antioxidants which occur naturally in tea. Polyphenols help your body fight cell-damaging free radicals, which can cause cancer, Alzheimer’s and other serious diseases.
In 2010, the American Chemical Society published a study which revealed that your ordinary cup of tea offers up to 150 milligrams of beneficial polyphenols. The number was significantly lower in bottled tea, which only provides somewhere in the ballpark of 3 to 81 milligrams. And unfortunately, polyphenols levels are not printed on the ingredients label of Honest Tea (or any tea, for that matter)... So it’s difficult to know how much you’re getting.
Our recommendation: skip Honest Tea. Try an organic and GMO-free brand like Choice. You’ll get greater health benefits—and significantly less sugar—brewing a cup of ordinary green or black tea.
Possible long-term side effects
- heart disease
Ingredients to be aware of
- certified organic
- ethically manufactured