How Much Sugar Is Actually In This ‘Sugarfree’ Iced Tea?

This entry was originally just going to be a small side-note on our post about Adagio’s delicious iced tea blends, but it ended up going on quite a tangent, and deserved it’s own post.

I started thinking about these sugarfree iced teas after seeing some discussions online about whether or not it could possibly have no sugar in it, since there’s pieces of dried fruit, and fruit has sugar, and surely some of that sugar would leech into the water while steeping…

So, using zero knowledge of science, and just a splash of common sense, I started trying to figure out how much sugar there could be, mostly to help put people’s minds at ease about it, but also because I started becoming curious myself.

I started by separating out the chunks of peach from the rest of the tea, and things just kind of snowballed from there, here’s what I came up with: 

Are Sugarfree Iced Teas Really Sugarfree?

We’re seen discussions where people were convinced that at least a small trace of sugar could get absorbed into the water from the fruits, but after reaching out, Adagio was adamant that there as absolutely no sugar in their iced teas, and we want to pass on what they told us:

Here are a few snippets of information via Adagio themselves:

“Our teas are direct-sourced from growers and as such contain no artificial additives. As a result, our teas are sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly, and in virtually all cases, contain zero calories. It’s quite good for you too!

And they followed up by saying:

The fruit pieces are freeze-dried, and contain virtually no sugar. As a result, our teas contain zero calories.”

“Our white peach iced tea contains zero sugar.

If you’re still skeptical, and concerned about your sugar intake, let’s do a bit of napkin math and a quick experiment.

There were three claims made about the teas and their sugar content, one is that they are sugar-free, one is that they contain zero sugar, and finally that they contain virtually no sugar.

In Canada, there’s a specific definition for “sugar-free” and “zero sugar”, they both fall under the same guidelines, as follows:

“The food … contains less than 0.5 g of sugars per reference amount and serving of stated size…”

Just to clear that up right away, it’s technically true to call something sugar free or say that it has zero sugar, even if it does indeed contain sugar, as long as it’s less than half a gram of sugar per serving. In layman’s speech, you’d think “zero” would actually mean “zero”, but that’s not the case.

I imagine it works similar across the border in the United States, where you could still call something “sugar free” even if it does have a small amount of sugar in each serving.

We’ve established a few things so far, and now it’s time to really hammer it all down:

  • This tea has fruit pieces in it.
  • Fruit pieces have sugar.
  • Something can be called “sugar-free”, etc, and still have sugar in it.

But is it enough to even think about, let alone worry about?

Now that we have those definitions out of the way, let’s find out how much sugar is actually in “zero sugar” and “sugar-free” iced teas…

We’ll be using a White Peace Iced Tea as our example for this (It’s delicious by the way, you can find it here) First things first, let’s figure out how much sugar is in a regular peach, then we’ll try to put that in into the context of this tea.

Here’s the amount of sugar in an entire medium sized peach, per the USDA:

To put things in context, I separated out the small chunks of peach from Adagio’s White Peach Iced Tea and here’s what I got: 

Note that’s a small Corelle plate with a diameter of 6-3/4″, and one ripped-open bag of White Peace Iced Tea, which had 4 small chunks.

The next thing we need to figure out is…

How many of those chunks would fit into a full size peach? It’s not immediately obvious, since they’ve been dried. For instance, look at the size difference between a grape and a raisin. So, what to do…?

image via happyhooligans.ca

When life gives you dried peaches, re-hydrate them.

We’ve already come this far in the name of amateur science, so why not take it a step further? I grabbed the nearest soda can (That coincidentally just so happened to be a sugar-free Zevia), I flipped it over for the sake of having a small reservoir because that’s what was handy on my desk…

I poured in a little bit of water and let the peach pieces sit for about half an hour:

With moisture added back to the peach pieces they looked… basically the same, a little more plump.

And unfortunately, it’s still hard to picture just how many of these little pieces it would take to equal a full peach, so is that the end of the road?

Was That the End of the Road? Not Quite…

According to the USDA, there are 13 grams of sugar in a 150 gram medium sized peach.

The peach itself is already less than 10% sugar. Picture those 4 little chunks of peach, and now imagine a tenth of that in size, and that’s less sugar than is in the fruit chunks from this iced tea.

But that still doesn’t tell us how many grams of sugar there are, so let’s take it one step further and actually weigh those re-hydrated chunks of peach.

Bad science alert: These were soaking wet when I weighed them, so that’s probabally not the same amount of liquid that an actual peach would have, but just go along with it…

Here’s some napkin math to put it all into perspective:

There are (very roughly) 0.66 grams of peach in a bag of White Peach Iced Tea.

150 grams of peach have 13 grams of sugar.

1 gram of peach has 0.086 grams of sugar.

Drumroll please…

In the entire pouch of this iced tea, which makes about 4 cups, the 0.66 grams of dried peach have a whopping…

0.057 grams of sugar.

So, if you were to eat the chunks of fruit after using them to brew tea, you’d be consuming at most around half of one tenth of a gram of sugar.

That’s a FRACTION of the amount of sugar in half a cup of broccoli, just for reference (Half a cup of broccoli has 0.7grams of sugar.)

Obviously, the only sugar you’re going to consume from drinking this iced tea is whatever gets absorbed into the tea, and that’s where this whole experiment falls off the rails…

I have absolutely no idea how much sugar from a piece of dried fruit would get absorbed into water after sitting in the water overnight to steep. I imagine its SOME sugar, and probabally not most.

But even if ALL of the sugar from the dried fruit were to somehow get absorbed into the water, drinking a quart (about 1 liter) is only going to be about half of a tenth of a gram.

In other words, it’s practically nothing as far as the sugar content is concerned. The amount of sugar in this tea is far, far below the limit of what is allowed to be called sugar-free…

Half a cup of broccoli has more than 10x the sugar that’s in an entire liter of this iced tea. 

This was mostly just for kicks, and to give a really rough estimate to set some people’s minds at ease.

Don’t take this as medical advice or anything, you could be consuming a bit more sugar (Probably not a ton more since I tried to be pretty conservative in my estimates) or a bit less, but in the grand scheme of things it seems pretty darn close to ‘sugarfree‘ if there’s only at most about 0.057 grams of sugar in the entire quart. One bag of this iced tea makes a quart, and after that you can even let it steep a second time to make a second, slightly less potent batch, which even less sugar.

You could even cut up some pieces of fruit and add them to your best Earl Grey tea, or whatever else you’re sipping on lately, for a twist on the flavor.

AN APPEAL TO OUR READERS:

If you find any inaccuracies here, or estimates I made that are off base, PLEASE don’t be shy to leave a comment with a correction, especially if you can help replace any of my guesswork with actual science. Hopefully you found this at least somewhat interesting or useful, if not a little bit ridiculous and mildly entertaining.

You can also make iced tea with hot water. Would hot water dissolve more of the sugar from the fruit? Maybe that’s a question for next time, but we’ll keep our kettles packed away for now.