Green Tea Craze Hits East Texas - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/29/05-Tyler

Green Tea Craze Hits East Texas

It's cold. It's slushy. It's sweet. And it's green.

"It tastes almost like mint chocolate chip ice cream," Lee Price, a Starbucks customer, said.

But it's green tea, with real leaves crushed into a powder. And you can now find it blended at Starbucks and Smoothie King.

"Green tea has been abuzz for quite a while in the United States, with the green tea diet and things like that," Allison McKinney, co-owner of Tyler's Smoothie King franchises, said. "Smoothie King just thought it was the right time to put it in our smoothies."

"Hey, you guys want to try the new Green Tea Frappuccino?" a Starbucks employee asked a lady walking outside the store front.

"It's good. I like it," Melanie Seidel said, after trying a sample.

Starbucks in Asia has had Green Tea Frappuccino on their menus for four years. Now, East Texans are embracing the exotic.

"It's a good alternative to people that can't have caffeine," Mashael Tonroy, store manager of the Starbucks on Tyler's South Broadway, said.

Green tea has less caffeine than coffee, and at Starbucks, fewer calories than the other Frappuccinos.

According to Smoothie King's flyer, green tea is also high in antioxidants. It helps control cholesterol and blood pressure.

"You see it linked with cancer prevention," Marci Wright, R.D., a dietitian with Mother Frances, said. "You see it linked with prevention of heart disease. And you see it used sometimes as a weight-loss aid."

But before you think these versions of green tea can help you lose weight, take a look at the nutrition facts.

Smoothie King's 20-oz. Green Tea Tango has 300 calories, while Starbucks' 16-oz. Tazo Green Tea Frappuccino, without the whipped cream, has even more calories: 370. That translates into 15 calories per ounce in the smoothie and more than 23 calories per ounce in the Frappuccino. Fat calories... smoothie: 33, Frappuccino: 40.

So if you want the health benefits without all the calories, it's best to stick with a tea bag. Of course, treating yourself once in a while isn't so bad either.

Though research has shown green tea has a number of health benefits, there has not been enough scientific evidence to make it conclusive.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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