What is loaded tea, you ask? Well, that’s a loaded question…
If you had told me that when I sat down to write my first blog post for my personal website, it would be about caffeine and my latest TikTok-spurred hobby — loaded tea — I would have called you a liar.
When WaterTok — a corner of TikTok that sees influencers share their powdered drink mix “recipes” with their followers — had its viral moment, I must admit that, while I wasn’t one of the people ridiculing the viral corner of the video-sharing app (do you, I say!!!), I certainly didn’t get it. So, you’re just putting sweet stuff in water… why not just drink water? I thought at the time.
However, a few weeks later, a wildly overpriced tea shop opened up on my corner. Unlike on WaterTok, where folks typically mixed their drinks in Stanley tumblers that look like the water bottle equivalent of Fort Knox, these drinks were made in clear cups so that you could see the pretty layers of colored tea inside, and they contained caffeine (which I enjoy far more than water). The drink was called “loaded tea,” and while I enjoyed it, I could not bring myself to spend $10 on it on a regular basis.
As fate — and the TikTok algorithm — would have it, I ended up stumbling onto the TikTok profile of Silver Linings Lessons shortly thereafter, an influencer who gained traction on the app by spreading the word about the insidious nature of the seemingly innocuous loaded tea shops like the one that opened up near me.
What’s the Deal With Those Loaded Tea Shops?
Turns out, the loaded tea shops opening up all over the US are affiliated with the well-known multi-level marketing company Herbalife. While the company’s products are not inherently dangerous, the way they market and sell them arguably is. The company requires its sellers to buy the product they will then have to sell, and while the company rakes in billions, the sellers themselves essentially only make money if they recruit more sellers to join the company under them. This becomes increasingly hard to do as more and more sellers enter the game, however. According to a Survey by Magnifying Money, a majority of MLM sellers make less than $0.70 an hour.
“. . . It’s what inspired Silver Linings Lessons to start teaching folks that you could make those tasty, highly-caffeinated, hella-expensive loaded teas at home for a fraction of the price (and avoid supporting an MLM in the process).”
There isn’t enough time in the world to get into why MLMs suck, but it’s what inspired Silver Linings Lessons to start teaching folks that you could make those tasty, highly-caffeinated, hella-expensive loaded teas at home for a fraction of the price (and avoid supporting an MLM in the process).
But as I fell further and further down the rabbit hole of TeaTok (yes, it also has a corner of TikTok dedicated to it), drinking my home-made loaded teas, I started to wonder just how much caffeine I was drinking in a day and whether or not it was too much caffeine.
If you’re a loaded tea lover and are wondering the same thing, ahead, I break down how much caffeine is in loaded tea, how loaded teas compare to coffee and energy drinks’ caffeine content, and how much caffeine is safe to drink in a day.
How Much Caffeine is in Loaded Tea?
If you make your loaded teas at home, the amount of caffeine contained in them is really up to you.
The reason why I’m even writing this blog post is that — as I went down the wormhole of loaded tea obsession — I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overdosing on caffeine. I’m not one to shy away from a second or third cup of coffee in my day-to-day, but coffee is coffee, and loaded tea is loaded tea.
Following the recipe by the at-home loaded tea queen herself, Silver Linings Lessons, a loaded tea has around 175 mg of caffeine in it.
A typical 8 oz cup of brewed coffee averages around 95 mg of caffeine, while an espresso-based drink (like a latte or an Americano) with a double shot will usually contain about 125 mg of caffeine on average. Meanwhile, an 8oz. can of Red Bull contains around 80 mg of caffeine.
So, does that mean loaded teas have a heinous amount of caffeine? Well, yes and no. It depends on how you look at it.
Remember: An 8 oz cup of coffee contains 95 mg of caffeine on average. Yes, a loaded tea contains significantly more caffeine than that, but one thing cannot be understated: Loaded teas are typically made in 24 to 32 oz tumblers. I, personally, use a 32 oz tumbler to make my loaded teas, which means that 175 mg of caffeine is contained within the liquid equivalent of four cups of coffee.
In other words, by drinking a loaded tea, you’re spreading your caffeine intake out over a significantly longer period of time than you would be drinking a cup of coffee or guzzling down a can of Red Bull because the teas contain significantly more water. (And depending on how many 12 oz lattes you drink in a day, you could easily outpace a loaded tea drinker’s caffeine intake.)
How Much Caffeine Can You Drink in a Day?
Recently, Senator Chuck Schumer has called for popular YouTube stars-turned-boxing influencers Logan Paul and KSI’s buzzy new Prime Energy Drink to be investigated by the FDA. The 12 oz drink, which is popular among teenagers, contains 200 mg of caffeine, according to the New York Times.
Is 200 mg of caffiene a lot? Well, yeah — it is when you consider the Prime Hydration drink is only 12 oz and being consumed, in large part, by teenagers when pediatricians recommend adolescents aged 12 to 18 drink no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day, per NYT.
In other words, the amount of loaded tea, coffee, or energy drinks one consumes in a day should not be taken lightly. The FDA recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 400 mg of caffeine a day, noting on their website that their is no one-size-fits-all rule to how much caffiene is too much. “There is wide variation in both how sensitive people are to the effects of caffeine and how fast they metabolize it (break it down),” the FDA says on its website.
As for me, I’m not particularly sensitive to caffeine. I can drink a cup of coffee at any time — including at night — and, while it gives me a jolt of energy, it rarely (if ever) prevents me from falling asleep. Still, I have no desire to play with fire and try to stay under the FDA’s max daily caffeine intake suggestion.
When I head to the kitchen to make my second at-home loaded tea of the day, I typically leave out the guarana powder, bringing the drink’s caffeine content down to 120 mg (not all that much more than a regular cup of coffee).
Ultimately, I consume around 300 mg of caffeine a day while drinking 64 oz of water/loaded tea (the equivalent of 8 cups of water) — well within FDA guidelines, all while drinking a lot more water than I would have had I been guzzling down lattes and coffee.
Where Can I Find Loaded Tea Recipes?
Not here! I have a tried and true, go-to favorite recipe that involves mixing Skittles Kiwi Lime and Starburst All Pink drink mixes, but that’s where my recipe knowledge begins and ends. If you want endless loaded tea recipe inspo, look no further than Silver Linings Lessons!
If you want more random blog posts about the corner of TikTok I’m obsessed with at the moment, however, I’m you’re gal.