Green tea lemonades have become an increasingly popular drink option at coffee shops like Starbucks in recent years. Combining the health benefits of green tea with the sweet, tart flavor of lemonade, these refreshing beverages are a tasty way to stay hydrated. But are green tea lemonades actually healthy, or are they packed with hidden sugars and calories? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional content of a Starbucks green tea lemonade to find out.
What’s in a Starbucks Green Tea Lemonade?
Starbucks offers both a regular and an unsweetened version of their green tea lemonade. The ingredients are relatively simple:
- Brewed green tea
- Lemonade (regular or unsweetened)
The main difference between the two versions is that the regular green tea lemonade is made with their classic lemonade, which contains sugar. The unsweetened version uses a sugar-free lemonade instead.
Calories in a Regular Starbucks Green Tea Lemonade
Starbucks does not provide complete nutrition information for all of their menu items. However, they do provide the calorie counts for some of their most popular drinks. According to their website, a 16 fl oz (grande) regular green tea lemonade contains:
- 180 calories
- 45 mg sodium
- 44 g sugars
For comparison, here are the nutrition facts for a 16 fl oz Coca-Cola:
- 140 calories
- 45 mg sodium
- 39 g sugars
As you can see, the green tea lemonade actually contains more calories and sugar than the same amount of Coke! The large amount of added sugar in the lemonade is responsible for the high calorie count.
Calories in an Unsweetened Starbucks Green Tea Lemonade
Ordering the unsweetened version is an easy way to cut down on the calories in a Starbucks green tea lemonade. According to the Starbucks website, a 16 fl oz unsweetened green tea lemonade has:
- 5 calories
- 10 mg sodium
- 0 g sugars
With virtually no calories or sugar, this unsweetened option is clearly the better choice for limiting your calorie intake. The addition of the green tea also provides some health bonuses that you won’t get in a typical lemonade.
Caffeine Content of Green Tea Lemonade
In addition to calories and sugar, many people are concerned about their caffeine intake when choosing between beverage options. Here is the typical caffeine content for a Starbucks green tea lemonade:
- Regular: 25-45 mg caffeine
- Unsweetened: 25-45 mg caffeine
This amount is comparable to other Starbucks iced tea beverages, which range from 25-50 mg of caffeine for a grande sized drink. It’s also less than half the caffeine content of a typical Starbucks coffee, which packs about 150 mg per 16 oz.
Health Benefits of Green Tea
While green tea lemonade is higher in calories and sugar compared to plain green tea, it still offers some potential health benefits. Green tea contains antioxidants and compounds linked to benefits such as:
- Lower risk of heart disease and stroke
- Reduced risk of cancer
- Improved brain function
- Increased fat burning and weight loss
The most notable antioxidant in green tea is EGCG. Research shows this compound can boost metabolism, reduce inflammation, and help protect brain cells from damage.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that many of these studies looked at the effects of concentrated green tea extracts, often using doses far higher than what you’d get from a typical cup of tea. More research is needed on the specific health impacts of drinks like green tea lemonade.
Tips for Ordering a Healthier Green Tea Lemonade
If you want to sip on a green tea lemonade without overdoing it on sugar and calories, here are some tips to make a healthier choice:
- Choose unsweetened: This cuts out 220-230 calories and 44 grams of sugar compared to the regular version.
- Ask for light ice: More drink and less ice means you may get up to 20% more of the good stuff from the brewed green tea.
- Request light lemonade: Having less lemonade and more green tea will further reduce the calories.
- Go small or tall: The calorie count is based on a 16 oz grande, so choosing a smaller 12 oz tall or 8 oz short will also decrease calories.
- Avoid extra syrups and sweeteners: Sugary additions like vanilla syrup or liquid cane sugar dramatically increase the calorie count.
Making Your Own Lower-Calorie Green Tea Lemonade
Rather than paying premium Starbucks prices, you can easily mix up a homemade green tea lemonade to control the ingredients and nutrition yourself. Here are some tips for making a lower-calorie version at home:
- Brew a strong batch of green tea using 2-3 tea bags per 4 cups of water. Let it steep for 5+ minutes to maximize the antioxidants.
- Squeeze fresh lemon juice (at least 1/4 cup per 4 cups of tea). For milder flavor, start with just the juice of 1 lemon.
- Add a small amount of sweetener if desired. Try 2 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or sugar for 4 cups of tea. Or use a calorie-free sweetener like stevia or monk fruit.
- Pour the brewed green tea and lemon juice over ice. Adjust sweetener and lemon to taste.
- Garnish with lemon slices or fresh mint leaves if desired.
Making your own allows you to control the strength of the tea and lemonade flavors. You can also experiment with different varieties of tea. Even better, you can eliminate unnecessary calories and sugars for a refreshing drink that’s under 10 calories per serving!
The Verdict on Starbucks Green Tea Lemonade
So, is Starbucks green tea lemonade ultimately a healthy choice or not? Here’s a quick summary:
- The regular version is high in calories and added sugar, packing over 40 grams per 16 oz serving.
- Ordering unsweetened cuts the calories down to just 5 per serving.
- It provides antioxidants and compounds from green tea linked to health benefits.
- Caffeine content is relatively low compared to coffee and energy drinks.
- Customizing your drink with light lemonade and ice can further reduce calorie intake.
While green tea lemonade is not as low in calories as a cup of brewed green tea, the unsweetened version is a calorie-conscious choice for staying hydrated with a hint of caffeine. Following some of the tips in this article can help you enjoy the tea flavors without overloading on sugar or calories.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Starbucks use powder or liquid cane sugar in their lemonade?
Starbucks does not publicly provide details on whether they use powdered or liquid cane sugar in their classic lemonade. However, food community websites discuss barista tips that recommend using a liquid cane sugar simple syrup to make the lemonade. This involves combining sugar and water and dissolving it while heating.
Do they make the green tea lemonade with brewed tea or powder?
Starbucks baristas brew batches of strong green tea throughout the day rather than using a powdered or bottled tea base. They combine the freshly brewed tea with lemonade either at room temperature or over ice to make the green tea lemonade drinks.
Does the type of green tea used impact the nutrition?
Starbucks likely uses a blend of green teas in their lemonade rather than a single varietal. However, the nutritional difference between green tea types is minimal. Taste and quality may vary between loose leaf Sencha versus Matcha green tea powders, but the calorie and antioxidant content is similar.
Does the Starbucks green tea lemonade contain caffeine?
Yes, the green tea lemonade contains caffeine from the brewed tea. A grande (16 oz) has 25-45 mg of caffeine. This is comparable to other Starbucks iced tea drinks. It’s roughly 1/3 the caffeine content of a typical Starbucks coffee, which is 150 mg per 16 oz.
Is the green tea lemonade keto-friendly?
The regular Starbucks green tea lemonade is not keto-friendly due to the high amount of sugar from the lemonade. With 44 grams of sugar in a 16 oz serving, it would likely cause you to exceed your daily carb intake on a ketogenic diet. Getting it unsweetened with light lemonade and no added sweeteners would be the best keto option.
The Bottom Line
Starbucks green tea lemonade can be a refreshing, caffeine-fueled drink when you order it unsweetened. Choosing the regular version adds a significant amount of calories from sugar without any nutritional benefits. Customizing your drink with light ice and lemonade can further reduce the calories. Making your own light and sweet green tea lemonade at home gives you full control over the ingredients.