Calories from Tea: Fact or Fiction?

Posted by Divya on


The smell of brewing tea evokes feelings of comfort and calmness. And sipping on a cuppa feels like receiving a warm and comforting hug. Perhaps it’s just me, but there’s a sense of cosiness, contentment and emotional support.

Whatever the reasons, the popularity of tea among Aussies is undeniable. Whether it's in the morning with brekkie or in the arvo with some bikkies. Plus, with the numerous health benefits associated with tea, you can have your cuppa and feel good about it too.

But some reckon that tea can pack on the kilos because of the calories in tea. Here, we'll be delving into the real deal about calories in tea.

What are Tea Calories?

First, it’s essential to understand that calories in tea are negligible. Plain tea is made by steeping tea leaves in hot water and does not contain any added sugar, milk, or other ingredients that could increase the calories in tea. For example, a cup of plain black tea contains approximately two calories, which is negligible compared to other beverages such as soda or juice.

But the calories in tea can significantly increase when you add sweeteners or milk to your tea. A teaspoon of sugar, honey or other sweetener adds about 16 calories in a cup of tea. Similarly, a dash of milk or cream adds about 60 calories in a cup of tea. So, if you want to watch your tea calories, just be mindful of what you add to your tea.

Sipping on Calories in Tea: How to Stay Mindful of Your Intake

Let's take a closer look at the calories in tea of different types and explore some tips on how to cut them down in your cuppa.

1. Black tea

Black Tea is undoubtedly one of the most popular and the most recognisable teas out there. It's made from the Camellia sinensis plant. Other varieties of loose-leaf teas also come from the same plant. But all the loose-leaf teas are processed differently. Their leaf maturity also differs. Black tea is more oxidised giving it a stronger flavour and darker colour.

Heading back to calories – a standard 240 ml cup of this tea without any additives contains around 2-3 calories. That makes it a great low-calorie option for those watching their weight. Be careful, though, adding sugar, honey, or milk can increase the calories in tea significantly. One teaspoon of sugar adds around 16 calories in tea and one tablespoon of milk adds 10-15 calories.


2. White tea

White Tea comes from young tea leaves and buds. They’re harvested at the start of season and before the leaves are fully open. The processing is minimal which helps retain its delicate flavour and aroma. The leaves are simply plucked, withered and dried. That means the natural nutrients and antioxidants are preserved.

Want to know the calories in tea? Well, white tea is an excellent low-calorie option containing approximately 1 - 2 calories in a cup of tea (240 ml). White tea is the go-to drink when you're looking for a refreshing and low-calorie tea. It’s known for its light and subtle flavour - a popular choice with those who prefer a more delicate taste in their tea.


3. Oolong tea

Oolong Tea is a traditional Chinese tea that comes from the same plant as the black and the white teas. It’s partially oxidised though. That simply means the leaves are exposed to air; to darken the leaves. This process gives oolong tea a complex, fruity flavour and a slightly darker colour than white tea.

When it comes to calories in tea, oolong tea contains slightly more calories than white tea. However, the difference is negligible and both teas are low in calories overall. The calories in tea depend on factors such as the brewing time, the water temperature and the sweeteners or milk added.


4. Herbal tea

Herbal Tea is made from herbs, fruits and flowers unlike the traditional tea that are made from tea leaves. Herbal tea is naturally caffeine-free with zero calories in a cup of tea. That makes it an excellent option for those watching their calories from tea.

Try chamomile tea – a popular herbal tea that is often consumed for its calming effect on the body. It’s made from the dried chamomile flowers. Another herbal option is peppermint tea, made from the peppermint plant leaves – often consumed for its digestive and calming properties.

The calories from tea of the herbal type are negligible. Just avoid adding milk, sugar or honey to sweeten the tea. As they increase the calories in tea.


5. Chai Tea

Chai Tea is typically made with a blend of black tea and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves. It’s usually sweetened with sugar or honey. You may already know that the calories in chai tea vary depending on the ingredients used and the method of preparation.

A 240 ml cup of chai tea made with 2% milk and sugar contains too many calories. Generally, the calories in tea range from approximately 120-180 calories. However, if you opt for non-dairy milk such as almond milk or oat milk, the calories in tea can be reduced.

Also remember, calories in tea you consume can vary based on the size of the serving and the amount of milk or sweetener used. If you’re trying to watch your calories from tea, it’s best to limit the size of the serving and the quantity of additives. Or opt for a sugar-free version. It’s also a good idea to check the nutritional information of the specific brand or type of chai tea you’re consuming. That gives you an accurate estimate of the calories in tea that you’ll consume.


6. Matcha tea

Matcha Tea, a traditional Japanese green tea, is renowned for its unique flavour, vibrant green colour and numerous health benefits. It’s made by grinding green tea leaves into a fine powder. In terms of calories in tea – matcha tea is a low-calorie option with only 3-4 calories in one teaspoon of matcha powder.

If you’re a tea lover and also health conscious, matcha is your go-to drink. Matcha tea health benefits include improvement in mental clarity and boost in metabolism. It also helps you relax.

To prepare matcha tea, whisk one teaspoon of matcha powder into hot water until it’s frothy and well-mixed. It’s important to note that matcha tea can become bitter if over steeped or if the water is too hot. So, be sure to follow the recommended brewing guidelines for your matcha tea.


7. Bubble tea

Bubble tea, also known as boba tea or milk tea, is a popular Taiwanese drink that generally has tea, milk, sweetener and chewy tapioca balls – also known as boba. Unfortunately, bubble tea is often high in calories and can be a real diet buster.

A typical 240 ml serving of bubble tea can contain anywhere from 120 to 240 calories or more. Again, this depends on the type of tea, milk and sweetener used. Obviously, the tapioca balls also add to tea calories. Expect approximately 100-150 calories in tea. If that’s not enough, some bubble tea drinks may contain syrups or sweeteners, which further increases the calories in tea.

Some shops offer lighter versions of bubble tea with less sugar or alternative milk options such as almond or soy milk. You can also choose to skip the tapioca balls to reduce calories in tea or choose fruit-based boba options.


8. Tea lattes

Tea lattes have become increasingly popular in recent years, offering a delicious and comforting alternative to traditional coffee-based lattes.

A tea latte is typically made with a base of brewed tea and steamed milk. Different types of tea can be used. The popular options include black tea, green tea and herbal tea. Talking of variations – the milk used can also vary. Some of the options being – whole milk, skim milk, almond milk and soy milk.

The calories in tea latte will depend on the milk used and any additional sweeteners or flavourings. Let’s look at the calorie content of one of the popular tea latte options - chai tea latte. A 354 ml serving of chai latte made with whole milk and sugar can contain around 240-350 calories. That’s quite a few calories. It’s best to save this tea for a treat or a cheat day.


Tips and Tricks: How to Reduce Your Tea’s Calorie Count

While calories in tea are generally low, some can have more calories depending on how they are prepared. Here are some tips and tricks to reduce the calories in tea for you:

  • Avoid adding sugar: Adding sugar or honey to your tea can significantly increase its calorie count. Instead, try adding a dash of lemon or a small amount of cinnamon to enhance the flavour without adding calories in tea.
  • Avoid whole milk: Whole milk can add a significant number of calories in tea. Instead, opt for skim or low-fat milk. Compare 150 calories in a cup, 240ml, of whole milk to a cup of skim milk with 80 calories.
  • Avoid whipped cream: Adding whipped cream to your tea can make it taste delicious, but it also adds a lot of calories in tea.
  • Be mindful of flavoured syrups: Flavoured syrups like vanilla or caramel enhance the taste of your tea, but also add a lot of calories in tea. Avoid using them completely or use them in moderation.
  • Avoid tea-mixes: Pre-made tea mixes or instant tea powder often contain added sugar or calories. Instead, use tea bags that have pure leaves.
  • Try different tea types: Experiment with different tea types like herbal teas, that are typically calorie-free; or white tea, that’s lower in caffeine. The calories in tea of each type can vary slightly.



To sum it up, the notion of calories in tea is mostly a myth as no significant calories are there in plain tea. But the number of calories in tea can increase if additives are used. So, if you want to enjoy the goodness of tea without adding those unnecessary calories, consider drinking it plain or with a low-calorie sweetener. Overall, tea can be a great way to hydrate and boost your overall health.

With a wide range of flavours and types of tea available, there's something for everyone. So, why not brew a cup of tea today!


FAQs on Tea Calories

Q. How many calories are in tea?

A. Plain tea like black, green, white or herbal has negligible calories. But if you add a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of milk to your black tea, it can add up to 30 calories in tea. Fancy a tea latte? Beware! It's made with milk and sweet syrup that can have a few hundred calories in tea.


Q. How many calories are in a cup of tea with sugar and milk?

A. A typical cuppa with a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of milk clocks in at around 30-40 calories. But, if you start heaping in the sugar and milk, the calories in tea can quickly add up. To keep your cuppa light, go for skim milk and cut back on the sugar.


Q. Why is milk tea so high in calories?

A. Milk has fat, which packs in over double the number of calories compared to carbohydrates and protein. Full cream milk has the highest fat content with 240 ml containing 8 grams of fat and 12 grams of carbohydrates. This equates to roughly 140 calories. In contrast, skim milk has much lesser fat content, leading to fewer calories.


Q. What tea is high in calories?

A. Tea on its own is known to be calorie-free, but it's the extras that can pile on the calories in tea. Adding sugar, honey, milk or cream can make the calories in tea soar. Keep an eye on those tea lattes or bubble tea. With all the sweet syrups or condensed milk, they may pack a caloric punch.


Q. What teas have 0 calories?

A. Almost all tea varieties contain minimal calories. And you won’t be disappointed if you’re looking for zero calories in tea. For instance, plain green tea, black tea, herbal tea, oolong tea and white tea have 0 calories. However, this only applies if they’re brewed without any additives. If you add sugar or milk to your tea, the calories in tea increase accordingly.