Can I Drink Thai Iced Tea While Pregnant: Your Questions Answered

By Raz Parker

If you are wondering If it is safe for you to drink Thai iced tea as a pregnant woman the good news is that it can be consumed in moderation. 

When it comes to what food and drinks you can and cannot consume during pregnancy advice can be a little confusing. While it is advisable to reduce the caffeine in your diet when pregnant, which means cutting down on teas and coffees, it is not always clear when it comes to herbal teas.

If you enjoy Thai iced tea and you are looking to carry on drinking during pregnancy or you have been advised that drinking this tea will help, we take a look at whether it is safe enough for you to do so. 

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Thai Tea Ingredients

The first thing that needs looking into is the ingredients in Thai tea as this will determine if there are obvious reasons not to drink this type of tea while pregnant or whether you need to investigate certain elements further. 

Thai Iced Tea contains the following ingredients:

  • Black tea
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Evaporated milk
  • Condensed milk
  • Herbs and spices (depending on the recipe)

As you can see here, Thai tea contains black tea so you need to know whether it will keep you and your baby safe during pregnancy. 

Is Thai Iced Tea Safe For Pregnancy?

ice tea

As Thai iced tea contains caffeine and a lot of sugar it is not a drink that you would automatically go to when you are pregnant. In general, bottled and processed drinks are very high in sugar and pregnant people should avoid them in favor of more nutritious drinks.

However, if you generally have a low-sugar diet and are healthy in other ways, for example, you eat lots of fruit, vegetables, and wholegrain regularly, then Thai iced tea in moderation may be acceptable.

Low-sugar versions of Thai iced tea on the market are better but should still be consumed in moderation due to the high caffeine content. 

The Health Benefits of Iced Teas 

The reason why we say that Thai iced tea can be consumed in moderation when pregnant is that it does have the below benefits:

  • It offers refreshment during warm periods, especially during summer
  • The caffeine will give your body an energy boost when you are feeling tired
  • It can help relieve the symptoms of morning sickness
  • It contains antioxidants (found in the spice and herb mix) which are good for you and your baby
  • It can help to remove free radicals that can arise as a result of the changes in hormones when pregnant
  • There are low-sugar options at many stores
  • It is easy to drink when you don’t have time to make up a special herbal blend yourself
  • There are homemade recipes that can be made with less sugar and caffeine 

Risks Associated with Drinking Thai Iced Tea

While there are lots of benefits of drinking Thai iced tea while pregnant there are risks to consider. You can enjoy Thai iced tea in moderation but you should evaluate the below downsides of drinking it when you are pregnant as it can affect the health of you and your developing baby: 

Some of the harmful side effects of drinking an excessive amount of Thai iced tea during pregnancy are:

  • High levels of caffeine when pregnancy can cause this miscarriage (particularly during the first trimester 
  • Caffeine can increase the risks of neural tube defects such as spina bifida as it reduces the absorption of folic acid
  • Too much caffeine can cause low birth weight
  • Drinking above the recommended daily allowance of caffeine can reduce iron levels in the mom.
  • You may struggle to sleep if you drink too much caffeine which is not healthy for you or your growing baby 
  • Drinking caffeinated drinks can make you dehydrated and you feel full and unable to drink much-needed water
  • Too much sugar can cause excessive weight gain in pregnancy 
iced tea

Caffeine In Thai Iced Tea

The biggest concern when drinking Thai iced tea when pregnant is the high caffeine content. It is important to note that there will be varying levels of caffeine in different brands of iced tea so you should check the ingredients label on your product of choice.

On average, there are 12 to 18 milligrams of caffeine but some are significantly lower. 

The American Pregnancy Association advises that women who are pregnant should not drink tea with more than 200 mg of coffee per day. 200 mg is 1-2 standard cups of coffee, depending on the strength. 

As you can see, if you have one Thai iced tea a day you can keep within your daily caffeine limit.

If you also like to enjoy coffee or other products that contain caffeine you can always enjoy a small glass of Thai iced tea rather than drinking the whole bottle. 

Sugar in Thai Iced Tea

As well as high levels of caffeine, most brands of Thai iced tea contain lots of sugar. It is advised that women should consume approximately 30mg of sugar per day while pregnant.

High blood sugar levels in pregnancy can lead to problems with your baby’s growth and lead to your baby being born early. If you consume a lot of sugar early on in your pregnancy, your chances of miscarriage will increase.

As a guide, there are 24 g of sugar in a standard Hershey’s bar and 11 g on average in a can of soda. 

Gestational Diabetes

Drinking Thai iced tea alone cannot directly cause gestational diabetes. However, consuming excessive sugary drinks like Thai iced tea may contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

If you have gestational diabetes, it is important to be cautious about your sugar intake, including the number of sugary drinks you consume, like Thai iced tea. Thai iced tea contains condensed milk and sugar, which can cause your blood sugar levels to spike.

Therefore, it is recommended that you limit your consumption of sugary drinks, including Thai iced tea, and choose healthier beverage options that do not contain added sugars.

Is Thai Milk Tea the Same as Thai Iced Tea

No, milk tea and Thai iced tea are not the same. While both drinks often contain tea and milk, they are prepared differently and have distinct flavor profiles.

Thai milk tea, commonly known as Bubble tea is a popular beverage that combines black tea with milk and sugar. It can be served cold or hot and customized with various ingredients, such as fruit syrups, food coloring and boba pearls.

Thai iced tea, on the other hand, is a traditional Thai beverage made by brewing black tea with spices such as star anise, tamarind, and cardamom and then mixing it with condensed milk and sugar. The resulting drink is usually orange and has a sweet and creamy flavor.

Although milk and tea are common ingredients in both drinks, they are prepared with unique methods and ingredients, which ultimately gives them their distinct textures and flavors.

Homemade Thai Iced Tea for Pregnancy 

iced tea

One way to gain peace of mind when drinking Thai iced tea while pregnant is to make your own homemade iced tea. By making your blend of Thai tea, you can control the amount of sugar and caffeine you consume.

Homemade versions of the tea will also use natural colorings and preservatives so no nasty chemicals may affect you and your growing baby.

Many manufacturers of Thai Iced tea use artificial ingredients to make it look better but these highly-processed ingredients do not add to the flavor you will experiment with enhanced flavors when you make your tea. 

There are many Thai iced tea recipes, but this is one of our favorites. You can reduce the amount of tea or tea leaves if you prefer, and if you are not looking for a caffeine boost but want to enjoy the flavor of Thai iced tea you can use a decaffeinated black tea which is easy to find in most stores.

You can also use whole milk or full-fat coconut milk if you want to reduce the sugar content by omitting the sweet condensed milk. 

Alternatives to Thai Iced Tea

There are many safe and healthy beverage alternatives to Thai iced tea that pregnant women can enjoy. Here are some options:

  1. Herbal tea: Herbal teas such as green tea, chamomile, peppermint, ginger, and rooibos are safe to drink during pregnancy and can offer various health benefits.
  2. Fruit-infused water: Infusing water with fruits like lemon, lime, orange, berries, or cucumber can add a refreshing and flavorful twist to plain water.
  3. Coconut water: Coconut water is a low-calorie and natural source of electrolytes, making it a great choice for staying hydrated during pregnancy.
  4. Sparkling water: Sparkling water with a splash of juice or a wedge of fruit can be a refreshing and bubbly alternative to sugary drinks.
  5. Milk alternatives: Unsweetened plant-based milk such as almond, soy, oat or coconut milk can be used to make various healthy and flavorful drinks like smoothies, lattes, and shakes.

It is always important to consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian regarding what beverages are safe and appropriate for your individual needs and health status during pregnancy.

Ingredients:

The vanilla, cinnamon, almond, and tamarind are all optional depending on how you like your tea. There are some variations on Thai iced tea so you can experiment with different spices.

If there is a particular store-bought tea that you want to replicate you can look at the ingredients on the bottle to see what spices are included. 

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Directions:

  • Add the tea, star anise, cardamom, cinnamon stick, almond and vanilla extract, and the tamarind powder to the cup of boiling water and leave for 5 minutes
  • Strain the tea
  • Stir in the honey and the condensed milk until they both dissolve in the mixture
  • Fill a glass with ice and pour over the strained tea
  • Top with evaporated milk

This will make 2 glasses of Thai iced tea. To save time, you can size up the recipe and leave a jug in the fridge to be used throughout the week.

You can tweak the recipe to your taste by adding more or less of the above ingredients. For a vegan option use coconut milk or any other plant-based alternative to cow’s milk.

Vegans will want to leave out the honey and replace it with a teaspoon of sugar instead. 

Summary

iced tea

If you regularly enjoy Thai iced tea and don’t want to give it up while pregnant, you can rest assured that in moderation, you will not harm yourself or your baby. It is essential, however, to limit your intake to one cup of tea per day in line with the guidance on how much caffeine and sugar pregnant women should consume per day.

If you are worried about the processing of commercial iced tea and want a healthier version with fewer preservatives, you can make your own Thai iced tea at home using the recipe featured in this article or avoid Thai iced tea altogether.