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Best Tea for Keto and Low Carb Diets

Glass teapot and tea cup with tea on outdoor background
All information presented here is for informational purposes ONLY. It is based solely on my personal experience living life as a lifestyle-controlled Type 2 Diabetic since 2015. The information and ideas presented here are in no way intended to be medical advice. Always discuss any potential changes to your diet with your medical team PRIOR to making changes. For this blog, we will be focusing on lifestyle options for non-insulin dependent type 2 diabetics only.

When beginning a keto or low-carb diet, one of the major things to change for most people is their choice of beverages. Finding keto-friendly drinks to work into your new diet can be challenging.

Whether you are following a keto diet for weight loss, control of blood sugar, or are seeking other health benefits, tea is a great addition to your beverage choices.

Fruit juice contains too many carbs, regular soft drinks contain sugar. The artificial sweeteners in diet sodas don’t agree with everyone and are of questionable safety to consume. Energy drinks aren’t a great alternative either. Dairy milk is too high in carbs. Plain old water is great, but it gets a bit boring. That leaves black coffee and tea in one form or another.

If you are already a tea drinker, you likely know that plain tea is one of the best options for a carb-free beverage.

Is Tea Keto-Friendly?

The short answer is “yes” but there is a bit more to it. Not everything we call tea is actually pure tea. And we have to watch any additives such as milk, sugar, and honey. These additions will quickly add unwanted carbs to your tea.

close up of tea leaves growing

The good news is that pure teas, derived from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, are a safe option while following a keto or low carb diet. This would include all unflavored black tea (plus Earl Grey), green tea, white tea, oolong tea and more. Provided the tea is prepared from tea leaves and water, true tea contains zero carbs. Once you start blending with other items or flavoring the tea, it may no longer be keto friendly.

Keep in mind that all we know as “tea” is not created equal, especially when it comes to carb content. Many of the beverages we identify as tea are actually herbal or other plant concoctions that may or may not have sweeteners and carb-containing plants included.

chamomile tea and plant
Chamomile Tea

What Teas are Safe to Include in Your Ketogenic or Other Low-Carb Diet?

Teas to Use

  • Black
  • Oolong
  • Green
  • White
  • Yellow
  • Purple
  • Chamomile
  • Rooibos

Teas to Avoid

  • Any tea with added sugar
  • Blends that contain dried fruit
  • Sweet tea
  • Boba tea
  • Tea with added milk

Since beginning your keto lifestyle, you probably found recipes for bulletproof coffee. IF you need additional fat in your diet, a bulletproof tea recipe can be made in much the same manner as bulletproof coffee, by adding coconut oil or grass-fed butter to your hot tea. I am not personally a fan of either, but it is an option for many.

tea leaves in burlap bags with white teapot

Another good option is chai tea made with either unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk. I even like chai tea prepared as a regular tea, just steeped in water without the traditional milk and sweetener added. It is a great choice when you want something a bit more flavorful without added sugars.

If you are sensitive to caffeine and would still like a very soothing hot beverage in the later hours of the day, consider trying chamomile or rooibos, or any of the other herbal teas. As with black and other true teas, avoid blends or flavors that may add unwanted carbs. There are plenty of options that do not contain carbs.

Can You Drink Iced Tea on the Keto Diet?

Yes, iced tea can be consumed on a keto diet, with the same conditions as hot tea. As long as it is brewed from true tea leaves and contains no carb-rich additives, iced tea is one of the best drinks you can choose. Do be aware that some commercial teas, even though they state “unsweetened” may contain some carbs. It is best when possible to prepare your own tea.

Glasses of iced tea with lemons

In a hurry for a refreshing glass of iced tea? Prepare your tea as you would with hot water for a hot cup of tea, but use twice the amount of tea leaves or tea bags as you would for hot tea. When the tea has finished steeping, pour it over a full glass of ice cubes. The ice cubes will instantly chill the tea and provide one of the most refreshing glasses of iced tea you have ever had.

Another method for preparing your own iced tea is known as a cold brew. Simply place your tea bags in a pitcher of water and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This method yields a slightly different flavor profile as fewer tannins are released into the water. And the best part is it is ready to go in the morning

Tea Labeling

How many grams of carbohydrates are in that tea? Most tea packages will not be found with a nutrition label as most tea is exempt from labeling requirements. Often the best tea available is the pure loose-leaf teas sold in small shops and specialty stores. This type of tea does not come with nutritional labels.

Most good teas do have an ingredient list, so it is a good practice to familiarize yourself with all the ingredients that could potentially indicate added sugar. One to be particularly aware of is any kind of dried fruit included in blends. These almost always have added sugar even though sugar is not listed separately.

Eating out

What about bottled tea and tea available in restaurants? With bottled tea, there will generally be enough label information for you to make an informed decision.

What is available in restaurants is a bit different. Any drink that indicates that it is creamy or sweet will most definitely contain unwanted carbs. Sweet tea is an obvious “no” while on keto. I have also found on occasion that some “unsweet tea” that comes in concentrate to be used in restaurants does contain some carbs. After a few experiences with my blood sugar going up more than I like, I have decided the best choice for me is to drink plain water while dining out.

How to Drink Tea on a Keto Diet

Now that we know that natural teas derived from the Camelia Sinensis plant and a few unsweetened herbs and flowers are the types of tea suitable for a keto diet, what can we do to add flavor?

glass teapot and cup pouring tea

If you traditionally liked milk in your cup of tea, consider heavy cream or coconut milk instead. Both are good options for a change in flavor. A keto-friendly sweetener can be added if desired too. And some individuals like to add a few pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup.

Do be aware if you are following a keto diet for blood glucose control, some people report seeing spikes in their glucose levels when consuming non-sugar sweeteners.

In conclusion, if you are following a keto or low-carb diet, discover what tea lovers have known for centuries. Tea is a great option, whether hot or cold.

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