What is the Difference Between Instant Tea and Brewed Tea?
Coffee Life Blog by Waka

What is the Difference Between Instant Tea and Brewed Tea?

Instant tea and brewed tea can both make an equally delicious cup of tea. However, both methods have their pros and cons. In this blog post, you will learn the difference between instant tea and brewed tea.

Boil your water, insert your tea bag, and let it steep for 3-5 minutes. These simple instructions for brewed tea are practically muscle memory for tea drinkers everywhere. However, your tea could also be ready to go in seconds with instant tea mixtures.

But how different are these two beverages? While both leave you with a delicious pick-me-up for the day, the process for preparation and the contents in both methods vary. Let’s explore more closely how each one is made and which is superior.

How Instant Tea is Made

how is instant tea made

While instant tea is still made with tea leaves, the liquid inside of the leaves are extracted and then the leaves are dried through one of three methods. These methods may be freeze drying, vacuum-drying, or spray-drying. As a result, the leaves are turned into a powder that can be mixed with a liquid, like water or milk, to become drinkable tea.

In order to prolong the shelf-life of instant tea powder, certain additives and preservatives may be added to the mixture. Just like instant coffee, all you need to do to make yourself a cup of instant tea is to add your tea powder to your liquid and mixing it until the powder dissolves.

How Brewed Tea is Made

how is brewed tea made

Brewed tea is different from instant tea in that you steep tea leaves in water for a certain amount of time before drinking the beverage. Tea leaves used for brewed tea may come in the form of tea bags or loose leaf. Loose leaf tea is generally the most “natural” of the tea-making methods. Like instant tea, bagged tea can sometimes come with other additives and preservatives to make them last longer.

To make brewed tea with a tea bag, all you need to do is steep the tea bag in hot water for 3-5 minutes. With loose leaf tea, you need to use a strainer or a tea infuser to steep your drink for the correct amount of time.

Instant or Brewed: Which is Better?

is instant tea or brewed tea better

Although the methods for making tea are different between brewed and instant tea, neither is necessarily better than the other. In fact, the winner really depends on your preferences for convenience, how you feel about additives and fillers, waste production, and taste preferences.

Convenience

instant tea is more convenient than brewed tea

If you’re the type of person who is always on-the-go, you probably don’t have a lot of time to get your morning tea fix. While brewed tea can take a while to get the right flavor strength for you, Instant tea is much quicker. If you taste your instant tea and don’t feel like it’s strong enough, all you need to do is add in another scoop until you get to your preferred taste.

Instant tea is certainly the more feasible option for those on a busy schedule. But, if you don’t mind waiting for your tea to steepen, you may choose brewed tea for other reasons.

Additives and Fillers

additives and fillers in tea

If you tend to follow an additive-free and whole food diet, you’ll need to take extra care when choosing an instant tea blend. Instant teas tend to have far more additives, fillers, and other preservatives than brewed tea. However, there are some instant teas out there that have little to none of these extra ingredients.

Waste Production

waste production of brewed tea

We aren’t talking about human waste here. Waste production, in the form of packaging and biodegradability, is less prominent in instant tea than brewed tea. With instant tea, the only waste you really need to worry about is the container holding the contents. However, brewed tea leaves you with the box, the tea bags, and in some cases, plastic from the individually wrapped bags.

With that said, you can remove much of the added waste that comes with brewed tea by using loose leaf tea instead.

Taste Preferences

use instant tea to find your taste preference

It’s much easier to cater your tea drink to your unique taste with instant tea. When you feel the need to strengthen the flavor of your drink, you simply just add another scoop of powder to your liquid. On the opposite end of that spectrum, adding more flavor to tea brewed with actual leaves requires you to steep for longer or add additional ingredients into your drink.

Which is Healthier?

is instant tea or brewed tea healthier

While both instant and brewed teas come with the same health benefits tea drinks offer, instant tea tends to have less nutritional value than its brewed counterpart. Brewed tea comes from loose leaf tea leaves while instant tea undergoes a liquid-stripping and drying process. During these processes, it’s natural for the nutrients and vitamins in the leaves to strip away a bit with the liquid.

With that said, instant tea shouldn’t be written off right away. While it may lose some nutritional value during processing, it isn’t rendered completely useless. Plus, it may be the only viable option for someone on a low budget or time constraints.

Caffeine in Instant Tea vs Brewed Tea

caffeine in instant tea versus brewed tea

Instantly tea usually has less caffeine content than its brewed counterpart unless caffeine is added after the drying process. In general, instant tea will have around 40 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz cup. On the other hand, brewed green tea generally has 28 mg of caffeine per 8 fl oz cup. 

The level of caffeine in a tea drink not only varies by brew or instant, but it also varies by tea blend. For example, black and green teas are well-known for their caffeine content while herbal teas, like chamomile, have no caffeine at all.

Final Verdict

instant tea versus brewed tea final verdict

The primary difference between instant tea and brewed tea lies in the way it’s made and packaged for the consumer. The method for actually making your tea is different too. While brewed tea involves steeping with a tea bag or infuser, instant tea forms into a drink almost instantly with powder and liquid.

The method you choose should reflect your needs as a tea drinker. Regardless of your tea preference, we hope this guide has been helpful for you.

If you like drinking tea but don't like the leftover waste, then you should try quality instant tea. Get it here.