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Tea is a beverage with less caffeine than coffee. It’s rich in antioxidants; it has anti-inflammatory effects and improves health. With all these health benefits, many more people are ditching processed drinks and replacing with tea. If you and your sweet tooth are moving to the tea camp, how do you sweeten your tea?
Tea is sweetened with all kinds of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and natural sweeteners. Another way to sweeten tea is to do it in such a way that the flavor/taste of your tea is maintained or improved. The best way to sweeten your tea is to do it according to your taste and with care for your body.
In this article, we’ll delve into the different ways to sweeten tea and some considerations to why people might sweeten tea. We also look at some teas that do not need sweetening, and the things you should consider when sweetening tea.
Why Do People Sweeten Tea?
Tea, especially average-quality black tea, can be bitter. To make it more palatable, people often add sugar and milk. Interestingly, according to a variety of consumer surveys, there are more people in the world today who sweeten their tea than those who don’t.
For staunch tea enthusiasts, tea is often taken “as is.” High quality tea is harvested and brewed to be enjoyed with no additive. Additives like milk and sugar can mask the subtle differences in flavor embedded in a pure tea, or blend. Studies have shown that additives also can diminish the nutritional benefits of tea.
One way to wean yourself off heavily sweetened tea is to go for tea brands and flavors that are not as bitter.
Different Ways To Sweeten Tea
Sugars: This is one of the most popular sweeteners for tea. Different types/flavors of sugar are white refined sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, rock sugar, sugar cubes, etc.
Besides sugar, there are many natural and artificial sweeteners you can use to sweeten tea. Some of them have additional health benefits and they blend well with a lot of herbal teas. However, it’s wise to use even natural sweeteners in moderation.
There is much debate surrounding the use of artificial sweeteners and certain side effects, including weight gain. Whatever you decide to use, do your own proper research and always go with moderation. The idea is to stay healthy to keep enjoying tea the way you like it.
The Best Natural Sweeteners
- Honey: Comes in different flavors based on the plants the bees were harvested from. Because it’s quite sweet, using a little gives you a lot of sweetness for your tea. A perfect fit for black tea, green tea, and rooibos tea (use sparingly with it.) They are a perfect match for cold teas.
- Syrup: The most common syrup used is maple syrup. It’s a wonderful sweetener that goes well with both cold and hot tea. It has fewer calories than sugar and is replete with antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals.
- Agave: An extra sweet syrup with half the glycemic impact of table sugar or honey. Use with moderation. Agave is a good match for smokey green teas.
- Molasses: This is a by-product of sugar that retains the important substances refined sugar loses during processing. The thick syrup has an equally strong flavor and works well for warm beverages made with black tea.
- Dried fruits: An amazing match for green, black, and rooibos teas. Dried fruits naturally sweeten your tea and enrich its flavor. Work with different combinations until you find your preference.
The Best Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are chemical additives that often have no calories but are sweeter than sugar. They’re more popular among people who have to be mindful of their sugar levels and calorie counters.
- Stevia: More than a hundred times sweeter than sugar, with zero calories! Unfortunately, this plant-based artificial sweetener can leave a bitter aftertaste. It may not be to your liking.
- Aspartame: A leading artificial sweetener worldwide.
- Brew your tea with a stick of cinnamon or ground cinnamon (consider using an empty tea bag to infuse it.)
- Ground cocoa shells are the remnant of cocoa seeds after they have extracted the cocoa butter. They leave a sweet aftertaste when added to tea. Steep and infuse like you would with ground cinnamon.
- Brew your tea with honeysuckle flowers. These add a flowery taste and they contain nectar.
Teas That Typically Do Not Need Sweetening
The teas that typically don’t need sweetening are usually herbal teas. The sweetness tasted from them is more of an aftertaste, and brewing them just right is the trick to getting the best out of the teas. Here are some additional examples:
- Green teas with floral notes blended together
- Oolong- light and milky oolong teas
- Rooibos teas are naturally sweet and often derived from a shrub in South Africa
- White teas
- Cardamom Cinnamon tea
- Chamomile tea
Considerations For Sweetening Tea
When you hear people talking about tea’s health benefits, as they pour 100 grams of sugar into a cup, you can’t help but wonder! We cannot overemphasize the health risks of sugars and the empty calories of artificially sweetened foods and drinks.
From diabetes to heart diseases, the pendulum of health challenges swings. The number of people affected is increasing daily. With this in mind, It’s wise to take charge of your health and one way to do that is to regulate your sugar intake.
The healthiest and most delicious tea is often served straight-up, without sweetening. You appreciate its flavor more and get the full health benefits it provides. Another thing to consider is the consumption of tea in moderation.
Too much of this healthy beverage can cause some negative side effects, including poor sleep, decreased iron absorption, and nausea.
As you enjoy tea, we encourage you to be aware of your tolerance levels, and be discerning about how you approach sweetening your tea.
Scott is the founder of TeaMinded. He enjoys tasting and discovering teas from across the globe, with green teas and ceremonial matcha from Japan being among his favorites. He’s grateful to be immersed in the tea community, always learning and sharing along the journey.