Is Brisk Iced Tea Healthy? Spoiler Alert: It's Not

Teas are one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. A nice hot cup in the morning is loaded with antioxidants and various natural substances that are beneficial for our health. If you'd prefer a deliciously refreshing drink instead, iced tea is a great alternative that you can make at home. Simply brew your favorite tea, allow it to steep, pour it into a container full of ice, add a squirt of lemon, and enjoy. 

With iced tea sharing the spotlight as one of the healthiest drinks around, it's no wonder that major beverage companies have taken note. One such company is Lipton, which offers a line of canned and bottled flavored iced teas under the Brisk Iced Tea umbrella. Sounds like the perfect mix of healthy and convenient, right? Wrong. It claims to be iced tea, but the long list of ingredients says otherwise.  

Let's take a look at this popular iced beverage to answer this question: Is Brisk Iced Tea healthy?

What is Brisk Iced Tea?

Brisk Iced Tea is a line of iced tea beverages made by the Lipton company. It's available in several flavors, including the popular Lemon, Raspberry, Sweet Tea, and Half & Half (Lemonade and Iced Tea).

After their launch in 1991, Brisk Iced Tea quickly became one of the most popular iced tea brands in the United States. This was largely due to their high-profile campaigns that featured celebrities like Eminem, Sylvester Stalone, Danny DeVito, Ozzy Osbourne, Bruce Willis, and so many more.

Despite its popularity, Brisk Iced Teas did face some backlash for the whopping 44 grams of sugar (11 teaspoons) that were added to every 16oz can. They were forced to reformulate, reducing the sugar content by about half using sucralose, one of the many questionable substances on their lengthy list of ingredients.

Understanding that lengthy list of ingredients

If you take a look at the ingredients list for Brisk Lemon Iced Tea, you might be surprised to see that there are 12 total ingredients. For something that is supposed to be iced tea, which traditionally consists of 3-4 ingredients (water, tea, lemon, and an optional sweetener), that's a lot of extras. 

Out of those 12 ingredients, black tea powder, water, and natural flavors are the only ones you'd find in your traditional glass of iced tea. The other 9 are a mix of chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.

Let's break them down: the first ingredient is water, followed by high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), citric acid, and a long list of other chemicals. Many of these additives, which we'll explain in further detail below, are synthetic substances that have been linked to health concerns like heart disease, obesity, and more. 

High fructose corn syrup: This is a sweetener made from cornstarch that is found in many processed foods. It's been linked to obesity, heart disease, and various other health concerns.

Citric acid: This is a preservative and flavor enhancer that is often made from GMO citrus fruits. While safe in small doses, excessive amounts can erode the enamel on your teeth.

Sodium polyphosphates: These chemicals are added to processed foods as preservatives. It is generally considered safe by the FDA but should be avoided by people with kidney problems. 

Phosphoric acid: This is another preservative that is often used in processed foods to extend the shelf life and preserve the sharpness of the flavor. Consuming too much phosphate can cause bone, heart, and kidney problems and further aggravate existing kidney conditions. 

Sodium benzoate: Another preservative used to inhibit mold and bacteria growth in food. While considered safe by the FDA, studies have shown an increased risk of obesity, allergies, oxidative stress, and inflammation.

Potassium sorbate: This is yet another preservative. While it is considered safe by the FDA, it has been linked to skin irritation and allergies.

Acesulfame potassium: This artificial sweetener is 200 times sweeter than sugar. One study done using lab animals found that it caused significant shifts in the gut microbiome, leading to weight gain and chronic inflammation. 

Sucralose: An artificial sweetener over 600 times sweeter than sugar. It's often used as a substitute for sugar in diet foods. While it is generally safe, it can reduce the number of good bacteria in your gut microbiome by half. Commonly reported side effects are headaches, intense stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Calcium disodium EDTA: This is a food additive used to preserve the color and flavor of processed foods. While it is considered safe, more than 3 grams per day can cause low calcium levels and kidney damage. 

After reviewing this list of ingredients, it’s clear that Brisk Lemon Iced Tea is not the healthy tea beverage we've been led to believe. Out of the 12 total ingredients, 3 of them are sweeteners, and the remaining 6 are some form of preservative.

Is Brisk Lemon Iced Tea actually tea?

At this point, you may be wondering if Brisk Lemon Iced Tea is even tea. Traditional iced tea is made by steeping tea leaves or tea bags in hot water and then pouring it over ice. This process is what gives iced tea its signature flavor and brings out the beneficial antioxidants and polyphenols that make tea so healthful.

Surprisingly, there's actually very little tea in a Brisk Ice Tea. Sitting at number 5 on the ingredients list, the black tea powder imparts very little of its flavor, benefits, and caffeine content to the final product.  

In fact, there are only 11 mg of caffeine in a 12oz can, whereas a 12oz serving of black tea will typically contain at least 70mg. This is largely due to the fact that Brisk's Lemon Iced Tea is made using a very small amount of the processed instant black tea powder that has been stripped of most of its beneficial nutrients.

Is Diet Brisk Iced Tea healthy?

While diet drinks are often marketed as being a healthier alternative, this is typically not the case. When reviewing the nutritional facts and ingredients in Brisk's Diet Lemon Iced Tea, all of the harmful preservatives remain, while the only difference is that high fructose corn syrup and sucralose have been replaced by Aspartame. 

Aspartame is among the most controversial artificial sweeteners on the market. Dozens of studies and years of research have linked Aspartame to some severe health problems, including: 

  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer's and Dementia

A healthy alternative to Brisk Iced Tea

If you're wondering how to get the grab-and-go convenience of Brisk without the terrifying list of questionable ingredients, try a Halfday. Our delicious tea tonics are excellent for your gut, low in sugar (4g or lower), and have the same classic iced tea taste that you love without any of the junk. Additionally, all of our teas are made with real tea extracts, natural flavors, and organic ingredients you can trust. 

halfday tea tonic

Here at Halfday, we believe that you shouldn't have to sacrifice great taste in exchange for healthy options which is why our tea tonics are the perfect alternative to sugary and processed iced teas like Brisk.  

So next time you're feeling thirsty, reach for a Halfday and enjoy the great taste of iced tea without the junk!