Green Tea and a Lesson Learned

by Wendy Gabriel

My youngest daughter recently turned three years old. This is the first birthday we are celebrating in our new home so it’s was our first party without Grandma, Grandpa, cousins, aunties and uncles. I wanted it to be amazing. As we were planning the party, and making it as green as possible, I found drinks to be the most challenging. Since I wasn’t having the party at my home, I didn’t have filtered tap water. Wine and beer wasn’t an option (for adults) due to the venue. I wasn’t going to tote all of my glass pitchers to the play place. I wasn’t going to buy bottled water and I refuse to buy soda. I care too much about the health of my family and friends to ply them with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Read more about HFCS at High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Yes, It IS That Bad! and Sugar May Be Bad But This Sweetener Is Far More Deadly by Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Off to the store. I found some yummy organic juice in pouches for the kids. Now for the adults. I grabbed a few bottled organic grape juices and organic cranberry-blueberry juices. Then called my husband to whine about to discuss the choices I had to work with…

His advice was to try to get outside myself and think about what our guests would like to drink. Good advice but, again, I’m not going to buy soda for anyone. I’m sure many of you are reading this and rolling your eyes. Here’s a little peek into my thought process: how was the product produced, how is it packaged, what kind of waste will be left, how healthy is it, will anyone drink it and so on. Finally I saw a huge bottle of Lipton Green Tea with citrus. It wasn’t organic and I wasn’t thrilled it was packaged in plastic not glass but it had an official looking seal saying it contained natural antioxidants. Hmmm. I was in a hurry and completely frustrated so I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t read the ingredients on the label. I was dazzled by the perceived health and drinkability of it.

When I got home and remembered to read the label, here’s what I purchased (ingredients from label):

Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Sodium Hesametaphosphate, Green Tea, Ascorbic Acid, Phosphoric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Potassium Cinnamate, Honey, Calcium Disodium, EDTA, Caramel Color, Yellow 5, Blue 1.

Sugar content is 21 grams per serving!

And to really irritate me, here’s the big print on the label:

Lipton Iced Tea with naturally protective flavonoid antioxidants is a better choice when you want great tasting refreshment. And our recyclable 1 gallon bottle has a flex handle design to deliver a smooth pouring experience.

“Here my special guests… I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a few bottles of soda, so I got you something just as bad for you… Thanks for coming”.

Lesson learned.

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  1. Robin’s avatar

    We really do need to read everything, don’t we? I put Arizona iced tea boxes in my boys’ lunch. I’d rather buy the bigger bottles and use reusable bottles in their lunch boxes, but the same exact tea that is sold in juice boxes has different ingredients when its sold in the larger bottles. The juice boxes use cane sugar and the bigger bottles use HFCS. I know that sugar is not much of a better choice than HFCS, but I’d rather do the sugar. But if you read the front of the packaging, the design is the same, the name of the tea is the same, but the ingredients are different. But both say they are made with natural ingredients. So even when switching package sizes on a brand, you need to read the label!

  2. Carole’s avatar

    It really annoys me when labels say “all natural ingredients” and then proceed to use all that crap. What’s natural about high fructose corn syrup? Given that it comes from one of the most pesticided crops (along with soy and cotton), it totally scares me how much of it is found in things we eat every day. Ever tried to find a spagetti sauce that does NOT have HFCS? It’s really hard to do in the grocery store. Thanks so much for bringing awareness to the importance of reading the label of every item we eat.

  3. Alison Kerr’s avatar

    Argh, buyer beware. I tend to provide water (in one of those cooler things you use for drinks) and lemonade powder (one with sugar rather than HFCS) and ask people to bring a reusable cup or bottle. It doesn’t work with every crowd, but it does amongst the homeschool group. I have some plastic reusable cups I can provide for those who don’t bring, but not enough for a big crowd.

  4. Mel’s avatar

    I love that it delivers a “smooth pouring experience”. That’s hilarious! Our guests get beer, wine (sorry those weren’t options for you) or one hundred percent juice from a glass bottle. Home made iced tea in the summer. I’m a no-soda enthusiest, too.

  5. Paul Kotta’s avatar

    My wife and I give the little ones freshly brewed green tea (our own, of course!). The adults get the first steeping, since that contains most of the caffeine — which we all need — while the kids get the second and third steepings, which contain much, much less caffeine — which the little ones most definitely do not need!

    To “spice up” the green tea, we add slices of fruit — apple and orange and even strawberries. Watermelon is good, too!

    When one kid commented warily about the tea’s green color, we said, “This is Shrek tea!”

  6. Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green’s avatar

    That’s nasty! I totally understand your no buying soda. I wouldn’t either less it was natural and in glass. Or made at home in my Soda Club soda maker.

    I make iced tea all the time and it’s two ingredients- organic fair trade tea and organic sugar (or sucanat). There is no reason for so many ingredients in tea!

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