Sugar is not the healthiest choice to make your tea sweeter. Other than a brief moment of pleasure, sugar dissolves in your body and offers nothing but calories. Consuming too much of it on a daily basis can lead to unwelcome health consequences.
If you love the taste of sweet tea and don’t want to give it up, I have several alternatives for you to choose from. Both artificial and natural.
Why You Shouldn’t Use White Sugar to Sweeten Tea?
There are multiple reasons why sugar can be bad for your health. It is a source of carbohydrates and a compromised food that you should consume in moderation. If you consume too much sugar on a daily basis, it can spike your glucose levels.
Some recent studies have found that sugar can also interfere with the way your body fights disease. These carbohydrates stimulate insulin resistance, which eventually weakens your immune system.
Instead of using processed sugar in your tea, you can switch to unprocessed rock sugar. While it’s a similar chemical composition, it’s slightly healthier than white sugar. Adding cream and rock sugar to tea is common in East Frisian tea culture. East Frisia is a region in Germany known for its deep-rooted tea culture.
Sweeten With Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are a good option if you want to drink sweet tea but keep calorie intake to a minimum. These synthetic sugar substitutes won’t cause your blood sugar levels to rise, which also makes them a good choice for diabetics.
Stevia is an artificial sweetener and most of its products are sold as pills, powder, or liquid. This insanely sweet plant is 200 times sweeter than sugar and contains little to no calories. This healthy alternative has been used to sweeten tea and other beverages since the 16th century.
Stevia sweeteners are found primarily in household sugar products. They contain a mixture of sweet and non-sweet components of the stevia leaf. This artificial sweetener can help control weight and lower blood pressure.
Aspartame is among the most popular artificial sweeteners in the world. This low-calorie sweetener is available in tablet sachets. It’s usually mixed with other sweeteners to enhance the overall taste of your tea.
This artificial sweetener comprises two amino acids, broken down in your body and used for protein synthesis. Although there’s always been debate about its safety, nutritional information, and use, a 2007 study concluded that aspartame is safe when used in moderation. However, this sweetener has no nutritional value.
Sweeten Natural Sweeteners
Unlike artificial sweeteners, most natural sweeteners contain some calories but also offer nutritional benefits. They’re made from natural ingredients and are a better choice than refined sugar.
Honey is the most popular and healthier natural sweetener. Thanks to the broad harvesting possibilities, today, you can access a wide range of honey varieties that differ in flavors and properties. This natural ingredient not only sweetens your tea but also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
However, you should always remember not to add honey while steeping your tea. To enhance the flavor, you should add a spoonful of honey after pouring the black or green tea into your cup. If you do not like the taste of raw honey, you can also add ginger and a few drops of lemon juice or lemon slices to improve its flavor.
If you like milk-based teas, vanilla is the best natural sweetener. Extracted from the flower, vanilla beans add a warm sweetness to your tea. Since vanilla isn’t heavily processed or chemically refined, it’s an excellent alternative to sugar. Plus, it won’t spike your glucose levels.
You can add a few drops of vanilla extract or bean paste to your tea. You can infuse your vanilla pods or add the paste to our Jade Oolong tea to enhance its flavor.
You can add a subtle sweetness to your herbal tea with the right combination of spices. It’ll taste delicious if you sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon into your milky chai tea. This spice can enhance your tea by adding some mild heat and sweetness to it.
Cinnamon regulates your glucose levels and is a great source of antioxidants. It helps your body fight off infections. So, a pinch of cinnamon in your herbal tea can do wonders if you’ve got a cold.
4) Agave Syrup
Agave syrup is a natural sweetener made from agave nectar obtained from the blue agave plant. This syrup is sweeter than maple syrup but slightly less sweet than honey. Agave syrup has a low glycemic index, which means that it doesn’t spike your glucose levels. However, because it’s very high in fructose it must be taken in moderation.
Agave syrup goes best with strong black tea, iced tea, or green tea. You can add a teaspoon of agave syrup to our English Breakfast tea and enjoy a warm cup of delicious and refreshing amber-colored tea.
5) Maple syrup
Pure maple syrup is another sweetener that has gained popularity worldwide. Pure maple syrup not only sweetens your hot tea but is also full of minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants.
Maple syrup consists mainly of water and other organic compounds. It is lower than sugar in calories and helps fight inflammation in your body. Maple syrup can be completely dissolved in your hot tea and provides a balance of flavor. It pairs best with herbal teas, and black tea, such as Earl Grey.
Licorice root has been used as a sweetener for centuries. Its characteristic aftertaste goes well with herbal or green tea and offers refreshing notes of mint, cinnamon, and cloves. Licorice isn’t only used as a sweetener but is also an herbal remedy that soothes your throat and relieves anxiety.
7) Fresh fruit
Fresh fruit is a flavorful and natural way to add mild sweetness to your tea. Fruits enhance the taste of your tea and provide a refreshing tea taste. You can cold brew your morning tea with gently mashed fruit. You can also add chunks of fruit or fruit juice to your tea to create a cocktail-like drink.
Strawberries, blueberries, and grapefruits go well with iced tea or strong black tea. They soften the bitter taste of the tea and provide a refreshing aftertaste. However, they add a few more calories to your teacup.
Adding milk to your strong brewed tea will give it a slight sweetness. Whole milk makes your tea rich and creamy with all that natural sugar. However, it also contains a high amount of calories.
To avoid excess calories, you can use almond or coconut milk instead. Both almond and coconut milk make your tea creamy but are much lighter than whole milk. They add extra flavor to your tea. Milk goes best with robust black teas.
How to Make Iced Tea Sweeter
Traditional iced teas rely heavily on refined sugar for extra taste. Brewing tea and serving it hot increases the perception of sweetness. This is why iced tea can taste less sweet with the same amount of sugar. Therefore, you need to sweeten your iced tea a bit more than a cup of hot tea.
You can use the same sweeteners as you would with hot tea. However, the best pick will depend on your tea leaves and brewing method. The sweeteners mentioned above will enhance the flavor of your iced tea without adding too many calories, creating the perfect drink for hot summer days.
If you brew your tea leaves cold, you can enjoy a cup of delicious, sugar-free iced tea. The slower extraction transfers the different flavors of the leaves into your tea, offering a natural sweetness without bitterness.
Here’s the best sweet tea recipe for you to try: “Southern Sweet Tea” – make sure you go easy on the sugar or add some or the alternatives I’ve mentioned before.
Reset Your Taste Buds
Our taste buds are stimulated with refined sugars in almost every meal. Daily sugary snacks have numbed our perception of sweetness. So if you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle and give up sugar, you need to reset your taste buds.
Here are a few simple methods to improve your mouth’s perception of sweetness.
1) Drink tea without additives
High-quality tea has its own subtle notes and natural sweetness. If you put sweeteners in your tea, you won’t be able to enjoy and recognize those flavors. However, drinking your tea without natural or artificial sweeteners can get your taste buds back on track.
I personally always used to drink tea with sugar, now I add nothing to my tea. Here’s how you can do it too:
- Get good tea. No seriously, it will not work with tea bags.
- Every week, half a teaspoon less sugar than the previous week.
When you start adding no sugar to your tea, you may not like it at first, but keep it up, you can do it. It will take at most 2 weeks to start tasting the flavors of your tea. I guarantee you will never look back afterward. You can thank me later.
2) Eat fruit over sweets
Fruits contain natural sugars and expand your palate with real tastes. Although they have calories, they’re also full of minerals and nutrients, unlike candy. Get some fruit and eat them when you have a sweet tooth.
3) Choose loose-leaf tea instead of tea bags
When you steep loose tea, the leaves have more room to absorb hot water, expand, and infuse. The boiling water flows through the leaves and extracts various minerals, flavors, and aromas from the leaves.
A cup of tea brewed from loose leaves is slightly sweeter than one brewed with flavored tea bags. You can extract and enjoy the different flavors from loose leaves and don’t need granulated sugar to balance your tea taste better.
White or refined sugar not only contains a lot of calories but is also bad for your overall health. It weakens your immune system and spikes blood sugar levels, which can lead to serious illness. To switch to a healthier lifestyle, you should replace white sugar with natural or artificial sweeteners.
Once you limit your intake of refined sugar, you can set out to readjust your taste buds and enjoy the real taste of your black or herbal teas. Using loose tea leaves is one of the best ways to preserve your tea’s distinctive flavor and aroma.
At Viston Tea, we offer you a selection of high-quality loose leaf teas from Japan, Sri Lanka, India, and China. They’re selected to be perfect for beginners and are a great first step on your tea journey.