What are loaded teas? Make the colorful — and highly caffeinated — drinks using these 3 simple recipes

·4 min read
Loaded teas are taking over TikTok, loved for their high caffeine levels and colorful appearances. (Photo: Getty Creative; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Loaded teas are taking over TikTok, loved for their high caffeine levels and colorful appearances. (Photo: Getty Creative; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

They're vibrant, multi-colored and probably taking over your Instagram and TikTok feeds. But what exactly are loaded teas? And how do you make them?

The hashtag #LoadedTeas has more than nine million views on TikTok: These viral boosted tea beverages — with funky names like Bahama Mama, Mermaid and Unicorn — have gained a dedicated following who claim the drinks are low-calorie, sugar-free, filled with antioxidants and most importantly loaded with caffeine ... hence the name. Eater reports a standard loaded tea contains about 160 milligrams of caffeine — nearly double the amount found in a cup of coffee.

How did loaded teas start?

Loaded teas were initially found at one of nearly 6,000 "nutrition clubs" around the country, particularly in small-town America. The individuals behind these clubs, for the most part, use products from Herbalife — a multi-level marketing company (MLM) that sells dietary supplements, meal replacements and other wellness products — to make the popular caffeinated drinks. While the brand has no direct tie to these nutrition clubs, the individual distributors have given the impression that loaded teas can only be made with Herbalife products, when that's far from the case.

Loaded teas ... without the MLM

Jana Rogers, the face behind @SilverLiningLessons and a creator of loaded teas without the MLM, has gained over 415,000 followers on TikTok as she's documented her effort to make loaded teas more accessible ... without committing to the multi-level marketing world or breaking the bank.

According to Rogers, depending on the nutrition club location, loaded teas can cost anywhere between $7-$10 per tea. That price can rise to between $10-$15 per tea with additional add-ins like protein and collagen.

Rogers started making loaded teas back in 2021, when a reader asked her to write a blog post about Herbalife. "While researching and writing the post, we realized these products weren't anything special," says Rogers, "just extremely overpriced and sold strictly by Herbalife."

Rogers set out on a mission to create her own loaded teas for under $1 each, using products found at Walmart, dollar stores and online retailers. The first versions of her loaded teas consisted primarily of Walmart brand Great Value's energy drink mixes, but were missing some of the vitamins — as well as the carbonation contained in Herbalife's Liftoff product — used in nutrition club teas.

"After roughly three or four months of research, we found the exact substitute for the Herbalife Liftoff product used," says Rogers. "It was at Walmart for roughly 10 cents per serving, compared to Herbalife's $2 per serving."

"The product is called 4C Energy Rush," she reveals, "and has the exact same vitamin profile and carbonation needed to make a duplicate loaded tea at home for under $1."

Herbalife and 4C list similar ingredients in the two products, like taurine, several B vitamins and, of course, light carbonation.

Make loaded teas at home

Now, Rogers has more than 400 loaded tea recipes available on her blog, and has shared hundreds of clips on TikTok showing users how to make the popular loaded teas for a fraction of the price.

Some of her most popular teas have been original creations like Mountain Dupe, a blend of citrus drink powders, green tea and aloe vera juice, and Christmas Tree Farm, a fruity blend of tea and aloe that's color makes it perfect for the holidays. She's also had success creating dupes of well-known teas from nutrition clubs, like Dill Pickle, which contains pickle-flavored sports drink, and Fruit Roll-Up, a guarana, black tea and fruit flavor-packed energy drink.

Want make your own loaded tea at home? These three loaded tea recipes from Silver Lining Lessons are the perfect place to start.

Mountain Dupe

This sugar-free loaded tea, Mountain Dupe, is made with citrus 4C Energy Rush, Waka Green Tea Powder, Tang Orange drink mix, Hawaiian Punch Lemon-Lime Splash drink mix, cold aloe vera juice, water and ice.

Basic Witch

Looking for a beauty drink? Opt for the Basic Witch, loaded tea made with citrus 4C Energy Rush, Nutricost Guarana Powder, Great Value Strawberry Lemonade with Collagen, Hawaiian Punch Berry Blue Typhoon drink mix, Rainbow Candy (1/8 teaspoon cherry limeade drink mix and 1/8 teaspoon grape drink mix), water and ice.

Bubble Yum

Based on the popular nutrition club drink, this Bubble Yum tea is made with berry 4C Energy Rush, Waka Black Tea Powder, Nutricost Guarana Powder, Sunkist Grape drink mix, Starburst All Pink drink mix, cold wild berry aloe vera juice, water and ice.

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