Montana University finds "convenience teas" have equal healthiness to fresh-brewed.
An interesting conclusion by Montana State, published in Prevention, June 2002, found that premade teas can still be potent and full of antioxidants on a level near-equivalent to fresh-brewed tea:
"In fact, most homemade iced tea (hot-brewed and fridge teas) did have more antioxidants than most convenience teas. So if you want the very max, make your own.
But we discovered that some convenience iced teas still retained spectacular antioxidant levels. Beating even Concord grape juice, the all-time antioxidant superstar among fruits and vegetables, were Nestea Liquid Concentrate Iced Tea (green tea with honey), Honest Tea Moroccan Mint (bottled green tea), and Lipton Iced Tea (bottled, sweetened, without lemon). Lipton Cold Brew tea bags even outscored the fruit that's highest in antioxidants: blueberries.
What's the explanation? "Antioxidant levels in any given tea can vary from batch to batch," because of different growing conditions and manufacturing procedures, says Peter Goggi, president of the Royal Estates Tea Company, the tea-buying division of Lipton in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. That's why antioxidant levels in individual samples of convenience teas can rival tea bag-brewed tea, as they did in our test.
But the health benefits of convenience iced teas don't depend on the luck of the draw. Here's our best discovery of all: Even the lowest-scoring convenience iced teas contained at least as many antioxidants as fruits and veggies such as strawberries and spinach! That means if it's easier for you to drink a convenience iced tea, go ahead!"
That's cool, cos those iced teas are really nice (especially the Lipton Peach Iced Tea) BUT they are so full of sugar it's ridiculous :(
What I would like to know is how much difference there really is between loose leaf and tea bags (I only drink loose leaf).
I've seen some conflicting reports about bags vs. loose-leaf.
The issue with bags is the possible age of the tea and the conditions it's been kept in. I mean, if you use a tea ball or your own disposable tea bags (fill it yourself), it's no different than brewing from whole leaf. If you're purchasing commercial tea, you run the risk of it being old.
I actually brew tea at a higher temp than recommended (boiling instead of 140-160) because it will extract more from the tea. That generally makes it more bitter, but I don't mind it so much or just add a little bit of sweetner.