Healthy Drinks

Sparkling Tea Is Poised To Be the Canned Drink of Summer—Here’s What RDs Have To Say

Erica Sloan

Photo: Courtesy of Owl's Brew
Gone are the days when iced tea was merely a milquetoast diner drink order or a basic poolside sip. If you get creative, there are about as many ways to make delicious homemade iced tea as there are people interested in whipping up a fresh batch, not to mention the myriad health benefits of tea, from lowering inflammation to boosting cognition.

To kick tea up a notch, add in a touch of effervescence, and you’ve upgraded your regular ol’ iced tea to a sparkling one that can safely pass at any barbecue or summery pool party. This is just what a new wave of sparkling tea brands are serving up, in both boozy and non-boozy forms that are each incredibly refreshing.

"Canned teas have always been popular in the summer, but many older brands contain a lot of added sugars, which I’ve noticed the newer options do not." —Keri Gans, RDN

When it comes to uber-trendy canned drinks, these sparkling teas present a fresh option for anyone who is fully seltzer’d out. (Nothing against seltzer, but it’s already had its literal and figurative moment in the sun.) While canned iced tea is nothing new, the latest sparkling tea brands bring new wellness perks to the table. “Canned teas have always been popular in the summer, but many older brands contain a lot of added sugars, which I’ve noticed the newer options do not,” says nutritionist Keri Gans, RDN. Instead, they’re steeped with health benefit-boasting plants like jasmine and hibiscus, and infused with fresh fruits like blueberry and lime.

And of course, because they’re teas, they bring along some of the wholesome nutrition typically tied to the brewed beverage in a way that plain seltzer just can’t. “Tea is known for containing flavonoids which have antioxidant properties,” says Gans, “and research has shown that they may help decrease the risk of heart disease and even prevent certain cancers.”

That said, in terms of these particular sparkling teas, Gans adds that they likely won’t contain the same potency of tea leaves and healthy herbs as a regular cup of tea would, so you’re not going to be reaping the same level of rewards. And to be clear, alcohol is not considered a nutritious ingredient in any regard. So if you are reaching for one of the boozy options, it's best to view your bevvie as a low-sugar canned cocktail versus a wholesome iced tea or something that offers health benefits, and it should therefore be consumed in moderation.

Even so, if you enjoy the taste and feel inspired to drink sparkling tea on a hot summer day, these lower-ABV (meaning alcohol-by-volume) teas will provide you with a new option that is a far cry from the strong cocktails made with sugary mixers that we've typically served at cookouts, says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, the owner of Plant-Based Eats, in Stamford, Connecticut. “There are many hard iced teas emerging, and these are almost always lower in sugar and booze compared to the more decadent frozen cocktails that tend to be popular in the summer,” she says. And again, as with any alcoholic beverage, the amount you consume matters, adds Gans. “In terms of the health profile, a hard sparkling tea is similar to a light beer or vodka soda, so when you’re choosing among those, it’s just a matter of which you enjoy most taste-wise.”

On that note, we have a few favorites—both boozy and non-boozy—all of which sport crisp bubbles, and herbal, fruity flavors that are just the right amount of sweet.

Here are five RD-approved sparkling teas for sipping your way through summer

Rishi Tea Sparkling Botanicals Sparkling Water Sampler Pack of 12 — $40.00

Gorin loves these alcohol-free sparkling selections from Rishi Tea. “They’re made with just water, tea, and natural flavorings like lemon and grapefruit—nothing artificial, and no added sugar, flavors, or extracts,” she says. Not to mention they include superfoods like turmeric and ginger, both of which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

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Sound Organic Sparkling Water with Tea + Botanicals, Grapefruit and Lavender Ginger Tea, Pack of 12 — $30.00

This non-alcoholic option from Sound contains 0 grams of sugar, making it a great choice for staying hydrated, says Gans. An added bonus: This flavor contains lavender, which has a stress-soothing scent, so you can say ahh and really mean it. All Sound beverages are also packaged in glass or BPA Non-Intent cans.

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Owl's Brew Boozy Tea - Darjeeling Tea & Hibiscus Flowers 6-Pack — $12.00

These boozy bevvies from Owl’s Brew are gluten-free and have no added flavors—and of course, they taste positively delightful, too. We’re big fans of this particular variety made with darjeeling tea and hibiscus flowers. A splash of cane sugar and natural fruit juices add sweetness to the kettle-steeped tea, giving it a punchy, fruity flavor.

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Luck Springs Hard Lemonade & Tea Variety Pack — $18.00

Just like the above, these hard options from Luck Springs are low in sugar and sweetened with fruit. While the lemonades are tea-less, the other fruity flavors—including the classic half-and-half Arnold Palmer—are all made with black tea for a subtle earthy taste.

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Loverboy White Tea Peach 6-Pack — $14.00

While Loverboy has a few varieties of hard teas containing hibiscus and black teas, our favorite option taps white tea for a bright peachy, herbal taste. All the flavors are also lightly sweetened with monk fruit, which is a sugar alternative that cause a blood-sugar spike.

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