Every cup of tea is unique — just like the person enjoying it. We all have specific ways to enjoy our favorite brew, but sometimes it’s good to mix it up a little. The next time you reach for your favorite leaves, consider trying a new type of sweetener than your favorite go-to. After all, no two sweeteners are alike, with different additions often offering a rich and delicious, more nuanced taste to your favorite tea blends. Below, we’re discussing five of the most popular ways to sweeten tea below and covering the health benefits and taste profiles of each.
What is the healthiest way to use tea sweeteners?
This question is entirely subjective and depends on the user’s health goals. The best way to sweeten your tea is to consider if you’re looking for a sugar substitute. Those who have diabetes may be interested in such an option or those trying to lose weight. If so, you may consider safe plant-based alternatives that aren’t as glycemic all demanding.
If not, you might consider a more organic or whole food alternative to traditionally bleached table sugar. You also may benefit from reviewing the six main types of teas and flavor profiles that you’re looking for and experimenting with different sweeteners across your favorite blends. Dietary goal setting is your first step to help you determine what the healthiest way to sweeten tea is for your unique physical needs.
Below, we’ve outlined some of the top tea sweeteners that you can enjoy for your next cup of tea:
1. Raw sugar
What is the difference between raw sugar and table sugar? Fundamentally, they come from the same source. The only difference between raw and regular sugar is the refinement process. There is no proven health benefit to either one besides acting as an additional form of energy. Raw sugar is slightly less refined and maintains certain levels of molasses in its final form. With traditional table sugar, you will not see any of the molasses content, and it will often go through an additional bleaching or refinement process. Raw and traditional sugar make delicious additions to your favorite teas, often pairing well with high-quality loose leaf green tea with it’s lighter, grassier flavors.
Agave does not come from sugarcane, instead sourced from the agave plant. It is as refined as sugar but is made of fructose instead of sucrose. This allows it to have a lower glycemic index while still offering double or triple the sweetness of traditional table sugar. This powerful sweetness also means that you can use less over time, which is a cost-effective benefit that you can enjoy. You can also use your agave outside of tea time as a naturally-sourced sweetener for your next amazing tea infused brownie recipe (or dessert of choice!)
Honey has long been associated with tea time, with its rich, golden stream and botanical flavors to enjoy. Honey is unique because it will take on different flavors based on whatever plants the bees have recently pollinated. This is why regional honey often has different tastes depending on where you travel. Honey is a fantastic inclusion to any tea blend of choice, tasting particularly delicious against the bold palettes of black caffeinated blends. However, while honey offers a deliciously scented, warm addition to your favorite cup of tea, it is incredibly high in glucose and is not considered vegan. These are essential considerations to take for more conscientious tea drinkers.
Stevia has risen in popularity over the years, becoming a popular “sugar-free” option to enjoy in your favorite teas, drinks, and desserts. Stevia is harvested from plants in the chrysanthemum family, giving it a more deep, floral taste than traditional sugars. Before its rise in popularity in America, it was a favorite in South America and the Asian islands. While it comes in many forms, the FDA currently has only approved the crystallized form available at grocery stores for safe ingestion. Additional studies will continue to be done on the effect of pure leaves used for edible purposes. Stevia is safe for diabetic patients as it promotes lower blood sugar levels than traditional sugar.
5. Maple Syrup
While this is untraditional, maple syrup can give any of your favorite fall teas a delicious, earthy flavor. Depending on how you source your maple syrup, you may enjoy additional health benefits along with its unique and deep flavor profile. This sweetener can be used seamlessly in virtually any tea blend of choice and adds an infusion of “fall” into every cup. You can also use it interchangeably with sugar in your favorite tea time recipe or dessert.