how many calories in a cup of tea, plus other cool tea facts

The humble tea bush. Its history dates back over 5,000 years to Central and Eastern Asia. The tea origin is made of legends and veiled in mystery. I think tea is awesome. I’ll answer your question about the calories in a cup of tea, plus give you some interesting tea facts that you may not have known.

Tea in History

Tea has been held in high regard by many cultures. Considering that tea is native to both China and India, both attempt to stake the claim to its origin. Chinese legend has it that one day, as Emperor Sheng Nong was boiling his drinking water, the wind blew several leafs into his pot.

Sheng Nong allowed the leafs to boil as he enjoyed the aroma they produced. He then tasted the liquid, and found it to be both, pleasant on his pallet and rejuvenating for his body. He felt refreshed and satisfied by the drink. This was the birth of tea.

It was the Buddhist monks who elevated the mysticism of tea by surrounding it with elaborate ritualism. The Buddhist tea ceremony which takes about three years to perfect, brings the participant into a secluded room, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.

In this tranquil environment, headed by the tea master, they consume the tea in a highly ritualistic fashion. Time stands still as they  focus the mind on peace and harmony. The whole process is filled with minimalism and spiritual pursuit.

Tea Health Benefits

There is just one tea plant called Camellia Sinensis. Depending on when the tea is harvested and how it’s processed and cured, it is divided into the green, oolong, black and white tea varieties. Each one has unique properties and characteristics. By blending different teas together, there is an almost unlimited potential for flavor combinations.

Tea contains compounds of polyphenols. These are powerful antioxidants that help the body fight free radicals believed to cause cancer. Polyphenols are also beneficial for digestion, teeth and gum health. The tea also contains fluoride that helps maintain healthy bones and may assist in prevention of osteoporosis.

In addition, tea contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, A,C and K. Also contain minerals such as Manganese, Potassium and Zinc. These nutrients assist the body with a spectrum of healthy body functions. From formation of red blood cells, to regulation of the central nervous system.

But What About the Calories?

Twelve ounces of pure tea, without any additives, has only 3 calories. One tsp of sugar will add additional 16 calories, and one tbsp of sugar will add 49 calories. One tbsp of whole milk would add 9 more calories and one tbsp of skim milk would add approximately 5 more calories.

The low calories in tea make it a perfect drink for those on a diet. In comparison, one can of Coke has 142 calories. The diet Coke has about 1.3 calories. However, aspartame, the artificial sweetener in diet soda, is still controversial.

Some studies even recommend further investigation of aspartame in connection with various diseases. Tea on the other hand is nothing but healthy. Just weigh out the benefits between any soda and tea to decide on the winner. I think the choice is clear.

In Conclusion

I am glad the tea has all of the wonderful health benefits. I enjoy the tea, because it’s a healthy caffeine alternative to coffee, and it gets rid of those coffee withdrawal headaches! I also like it, because as I slowly sip my tea, I imagine myself a Buddhist monk, sitting in a monastery amidst beautiful cherry blossoms.

I am calm and removed from the busy world outside the monastery walls. I am at peace and harmony with nature and all that surrounds me, one with the universe… But wait, is that my twelve year old screaming? Looks like it’s time to get back to reality!

Live well. Vlad

6 Responses to how many calories in a cup of tea, plus other cool tea facts

  1. Matt February 21, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    Great info on tea Vlad! I’ve always enjoyed herbal teas but only while its hot.

    Last year I had the pleasure of trying Tibetan butter tea at a Losar celebration (Tibetan New Year). It contains black tea that is boiled for several minutes, butter, creamer, and either salt or sugar. I was pretty skeptical of it but it turned out to be surprisingly good, especially on a chilly day.

    If you haven’t yet, I recommend you try it given the chance. Take small sips of the salt tea though, its an acquired taste! It may not be a very low calorie beverage though.


    • Vlad February 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

      Hi Matt,
      Wow, I never even heard of the butter tea! It sounds very interesting! I would love to go to Tibet, but until then, I wonder if it’s available in the states?

      Incidentally, there is a similar drink that’s prepared in Russia for when you have a cold. Except that it contains milk instead of the tea! Thank you for your comment!


      • Matt February 22, 2012 at 1:55 am #

        Hi Vlad,

        The butter tea I had was at a celebration here in Colorado. Here is a recipe for a single serving that will get you close:

        1. Boil black tea (I use English Breakfast) in enough water for one cup for two to three minutes.
        2. Pour the tea into a travel thermos and add 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter.
        3. Add a tablespoon or two of creamer (it helps the butter and tea mix)
        4. Add salt or sugar to taste.
        5. Shake, pour, and enjoy.

        In Tibet they use rancid yak butter a lot of the time which sounds awful but this recipe is pretty good.

        Cheers! -Matt

        • Vlad February 22, 2012 at 5:16 pm #


          Thank you so much for sharing this unique recipe! I’ll make sure to try it in the near future.

          I’m sure the rancid yak butter is an acquired taste! :-) So yea, I’ll just use regular butter for now!

          Thanks again! Vlad

  2. Noch Noch | be me. be natural. February 21, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    Hi Vlad
    i drink tea everyday! chinese tea, japanese tea, chai, herbal tea, organic tea, fruit tea, tea balls, i love my tea, though i had absolutely no idea about any of the above… may I ask where you found out the info? I’d like to read more about the tea I drink ahah :)

    Noch Noch

    • Vlad February 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm #

      Hi Noch!
      Most of the information I already knew. But, here is a fantastic site about teas: You can find out a bunch of information about all kinds of different teas – and there are lots of them!

      The fact that you drink a lot of tea is great! That’s something that I myself should practice more. Unfortunately, I’m still hooked on coffee…

      Take care, Vlad