How many Kcals are in black tea?

Black tea is one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide. Many people enjoy drinking black tea for its robust flavor, potential health benefits, and energizing caffeine content. But one question that often comes up is: how many calories are actually in a cup of black tea?

In the opening paragraphs, we’ll provide some quick answers to key questions about the calorie content of black tea:

– On average, an 8 ounce cup of plain black tea has 2 calories. Black tea is very low in calories and has no fat or cholesterol.

– The calorie content comes solely from the naturally occurring carbohydrates found in the tea leaves. An 8 ounce serving contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates.

– Adding milk, cream, sugar or other mix-ins will increase the calorie count. A teaspoon of sugar adds 16 calories, while an ounce of milk adds 11 calories.

– Drinking black tea on its own is an essentially zero calorie beverage that can be enjoyed freely as part of a healthy diet.

Nutritional Profile of Black Tea

Black tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. The leaves naturally contain certain nutrients and compounds that account for the minimal calories found in a cup of brewed tea.

Specifically, black tea contains:

  • Carbohydrates: Less than 1 gram per 8 oz serving
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Vitamins: Small amounts of B vitamins
  • Minerals: Manganese, potassium
  • Antioxidants: Polyphenols like theaflavins, thearubigins
  • Caffeine: Typically around 47 mg per 8 oz cup

The carbohydrates present in the black tea leaves contribute nearly all of the 2 calories found in a cup of plain black tea. These carbohydrates mainly consist of cellulose and polysaccharides, which are insoluble fibers we do not digest or absorb calories from. The other compounds provide minimal or no calories.

Calorie Difference Between Tea Types

All types of tea – including green, white, oolong, and black – have similar calorie contents. However, the exact number of calories can vary slightly based on the specific tea plant varietal, when the leaves are harvested, and how the tea is processed.

For instance, on average:

  • Black tea: 2 calories per 8 oz
  • Green tea: 2 calories per 8 oz
  • White tea: 1-2 calories per 8 oz
  • Oolong tea: 2 calories per 8 oz

Herbal teas that do not contain leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant (like chamomile or mint teas) typically have 0-1 calories per 8 ounce cup. Ultimately, all plain teas are very low-calorie beverages.

Calories from Additions and Preparation

While plain black tea is low in calories, what you add to the tea can boost the calorie content significantly. Some common additions and their calorie contributions include:


Many people enjoy sweetening their tea with sugar, honey, agave, or other sweeteners. Here’s how these impact the calorie count:

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar: 16 calories
  • 1 teaspoon honey: 21 calories
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar: 20 calories
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup: 17 calories

Added sugars quickly hike up the total calories in a cup of tea. For example, adding 2 teaspoons of sugar nearly doubles the calories to 30 per 8 oz serving.

Milk and Cream

Dairy products like milk and cream are another popular black tea add-in. Their calorie contributions include:

  • 1 ounce whole milk: 11 calories
  • 1 ounce 2% milk: 10 calories
  • 1 ounce skim milk: 5 calories
  • 1 ounce half and half: 20 calories
  • 1 ounce heavy cream: 51 calories

Using 2-3 ounces of milk or cream to lighten tea can add anywhere from 10-150+ extra calories depending on the type used.

Preparation Method

How you prepare your black tea can also impact its calorie content. Brewing tea by steeping it in hot water yields a minimal calorie beverage. However, milk tea and tea lattes prepared by blending the tea with milk and sugar contain significantly more calories. For example:

  • 16 oz Starbucks Chai Tea Latte: 210 calories
  • 16 oz Starbucks Black Tea Latte: 150 calories
  • 16 oz milk tea with tapioca pearls: 388 calories

These specialty hot and iced tea drinks can pack over 100+ calories into a 16 ounce serving. Plain brewed black tea still reigns supreme at just 2 calories per 8 ounces.

Health Benefits of Black Tea

Beyond being low in calories, black tea has several science-backed benefits that make it a healthy beverage choice as part of a balanced diet:

Rich in Antioxidants

Black tea contains polyphenols and flavonoids like theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins. These antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.

May Boost Heart Health

Regularly drinking black tea is linked to improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood vessel function, potentially lowering heart disease risk.

Supports Brain Health

The caffeine and L-theanine in black tea may enhance mood, focus, and cognitive performance. Studies also link tea to better brain health in older age.

May Aid Digestion

Black tea polyphenols could have prebiotic effects in supporting gut microbiome balance and healthy digestion.

Linked to Anti-Cancer Effects

Research indicates black tea antioxidants may help prevent DNA damage that can lead to cancer growth. However, more studies are needed.

Thanks to this broad range of evidence-based benefits, enjoying black tea daily can be great for your overall wellbeing.

Choosing Low-Calorie Options

If you’re looking to keep the calories of your cup of black tea low, here are some simple tips:

  • Brew plain tea using just hot water and tea leaves/bags
  • Skip adding milk, cream, or sweeteners
  • Flavor with a squeeze of lemon, lime, or orange instead of sugar
  • Opt for unsweetened iced tea over sugary bottled teas
  • Limit higher calorie tea lattes, chai tea, and bubble tea

Preparing your black tea without any add-ins allows you to reap all its benefits while keeping your calorie intake to a minimum.

Daily Calorie Recommendations

Here’s how drinking black tea can fit into typical daily calorie goals:

For a 2,000 calorie diet, plain black tea provides:

  • Less than 1% of total daily calories
  • Less than 1 gram of daily carbohydrates

Even if you drank 5-6 cups per day, plain black tea would make up less than 10 calories of a 2,000 calorie diet.

For a 1,200-1,500 calorie diet, black tea supplies:

  • Around 1-2% of total daily calories
  • 1-2 grams of daily carbohydrate intake

Enjoying several servings of unsweetened black tea per day can provide hydration and antioxidants without worrying about calories.


Black tea contains minimal calories – typically just 2 calories per 8 ounce cup. The small amount of carbohydrates in tea leaves accounts for the calorie count, making plain black tea an essentially zero-calorie beverage. Adding milk, cream, sugar or creating specialty tea drinks can increase the calories significantly. But unsweetened brewed black tea is a healthy choice that can provide hydration, antioxidants, and other benefits as part of a nutrition-focused diet. Drink up and enjoy the multitude of wellness perks this classic beverage has to offer!

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