How to Sweeten Tea without Sugar
Can you guess the 2 most common ingredients added to tea? Yes, that’s correct – cream and sugar. Fraser Tea blends have zero sugar*, zero calories and zero net carbs. Why ruin a healthy choice with refined sugars! In this article we will explore options on how to sweeten tea WITHOUT Sugar and how to add sweeteners to either iced tea or hot tea.
Fraser Tea organic tea blends are full of flavor, you really don’t need any additives. If you have ever tried our Hot Spicy Cinnamon made with Organic Black Tea, you probably wouldn’t believe there is no added sugar. Drinking plain organic tea without any cream or sugar is always the healthiest option. However, if you want to enjoy a sweetened southern style iced tea or hot tea, try these alternatives below to replace refined sugar.
* with the exception of a few Organic Matcha blends
Why does refined sugar get such a bad reputation?
Before we get started let’s cover a few of the basic terms. Sugar, according to a research article by Mihir N. Nakrani et al, is a carbohydrate that your body converts to glucose to use as energy. More important, it’s how the body responds to refined sugar vs. natural sugar that matters more.
Let’s take for example a regular soda pop that contains about 39 grams of refined sugar. Yes, a whopping 39 grams of sugar! If you drink a can of regular soda pop, your body gets a huge rush of glucose and tries to make enough insulin to counteract the spike in glucose. Then, you know what happens next… Yes – you have a “sugar crash” – a sudden drop in your energy levels!
In contrast, if you sweeten your tea with a natural sweetener like fruit, the body doesn’t have such a large spike in glucose levels. This is because the absorption of glucose happens in a slower more controlled way.
All types of sweeteners whether they are natural, artificial, added sugars or refined sugar should be used in moderation.
Refined vs Natural Sugar vs Artificial
Did you know there were so many different categories of “SUGAR”?
Natural Sugar is a type of sugar that has NOT gone through processing. Natural sugar occurs naturally in whole fruits, vegetables and in lactose (dairy). These have some added benefits and nutrients. The fiber in fruit provides resistant starch to prevent insulin resistance. The protein and fat in lactose helps regulate blood glucose levels, according to Meghan Paterson et al.
Unrefined Sugars are sugars that have not gone through the refinement process. Some other examples include honey, maple syrup and other unrefined sugars.
Added Sugars is another term that can be very confusing. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Added sugar includes sugars that are added during the processing of foods (such as sucrose or dextrose), foods packaged as sweeteners (such as table sugar), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices. They do not include naturally occurring sugars that are found in milk, fruits, and vegetables.”
Refined Sugars have a very high calorie count without any nutritional value. Sugar is harvested from beets, corn, or cane sugar. Of course, these are naturally occurring products, but they go through many processing steps. Examples are granulated white sugar, powdered sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.
- First, the sugar cane is crushed to remove the juice.
- This juice then goes on to be purified by removing the molasses and color.
- From there, the sugar crystals are formed and collected.
- Due to the heavy processing, many of the nutrients are removed and therefore it is called refined sugar.
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes. Some examples include aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K, saccharin, and xylitol. These often have a much sweeter taste than refined sugar. These usually have zero calories but most often have an odd aftertaste and have some health concerns.
Making the Choice
There are no right or wrong options for choosing the best sugar substitute to make sweet tea. However, you should determine what works best for you and your own personal health goals. If you choose a tea from our Organic Sweet Tea collection, you might not need a sweetener at all as they are naturally sweet.
However, if you want your iced or hot tea a little sweeter without adding sugar, one of these options below might work for you. Before making a choice, you might want to ask yourself these questions…
- Do I need a low carb or keto friendly sugar alternative?
- Am I looking for a natural sweetener that still has the nutrients?
- Cost and accessibility to the different sweetener options.
- Does it need to be kid friendly?
- Side effects of artificial sweeteners
There are many more sugar alternatives out there but here are a few to review.
- Honey is thick golden sweet syrup made by honeybees. Raw honey is unrefined and naturally occurring but is listed as an added sugar. A perfect complement to Lavender Night Organic White Tea or Chamomile Milk Tea. (1 tablespoon = 64 calories)
- Maple syrup comes from the sap of a maple tree. It’s natural occurring but is also an added sugar. Try it in a Classic Bubble Iced Tea. (1 tablespoon = 52 calories)
- Monk fruit is also known as also known as “lo han guo” or Swingle fruit is round and is native to Southeast Asia. Whole monk fruit either fresh or dried is a natural sugar. It is 100 to 250 times sweeter than regular sugar. A little goes a very long way. Each brand is a little different. When you buy granulated Monk fruit sweetener from the store it is refined and/or mixed with other sweeteners like erythritol. (Depending on the brand, many have zero calories)
- Date paste is an all-natural fruit sweetened by the sun. Try it along with a little coconut cream in our Easy Coconut Chai Tea Latte. (1 tablespoon = 25 calories)
- Date syrup is also a natural sugar but with more processing than date paste. This processing is to remove the skin, seeds, and pulp of the date. The dates are then cooked and reduced to a thick syrup. Try it in our Masala Chai Organic Black Tea. (1 tablespoon = 59 calories)
- Fresh Fruit is all natural and sweetened by the sun. Try adding a few fresh berries and/or citrus in our Sweet Sangria Organic Green Tea for a fun summertime iced tea. (Calorie count is different for each type of fruit. Berries have the lowest calorie content)
- Fruit juice WITHOUT added sugar or sweetener is a natural type of sugar. Add a splash of all-natural fresh pineapple juice or mango juice to our Tropical Punch Organic Oolong Tea for delicious, iced tea. Fresh squeezed is best. Store bought is usually processed. (Calorie count is different for each type of fruit juice.)
- Coconut sugar is a natural sugar made from coconut palm sap and is referred to as an added sugar. It has a lower glycemic index compared to refined sugar. (1 tablespoon = 54 calories)
- Stevia is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the plant species called Stevia rebaudiana. It is 100 to 300 times sweeter than granulated sugar and is usually refined. (Depending on the brand, many have zero calories)
- Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar-making process and is considered an added sugar. When the sugar cane or beet are crushed to make sugar crystals, the juice that is left behind is concentrated thick molasses syrup. Molasses, unlike refined sugar, contains many nutrients. (1 tablespoon = 58 calories)
- Agave Syrup is natural and is extracted from the agave plant that is native in Mexico. The syrup is comprised of fructose and glucose and is usually refined. (1 tablespoon = 58 calories)
- Artificial Sweeteners such as Sweet and Low, Equal, Sweet Leaf, Splenda and many more. (1 tablespoon = zero calories)
- Erythritol (sugar alcohol), Oligosaccharides and Xylitol fall in their own category. These sweeteners can occur naturally in fruits. However, most generally these products are created in a lab and combined with other sweetener alternatives. (1 tablespoon = zero calories)
How to add sweeteners to hot tea?
The best way to add sweeteners to hot tea is to add it during the brewing process. This ensures that the sweetener without refined sugar has a chance to melt and combine well with the hot tea.
How to add sweeteners to iced tea?
As you can guess, it is a little more complicated adding sweeteners to iced tea because they cannot dissolve as easily. Here is a great hack…
- Combine equal amounts of sweetener of choice in and equal amounts of water and heat until dissolved completely. (1:1 ratio) Example; 1 cup of honey to 1 cup water.
- Allow sweetener syrup to cool to room temperature.
- Cover and refrigerate.
- Refer to our article, How to Make Cold Brew Tea.
- Add a little bit of your prepared sweetener syrup to your prepared iced tea and stir well. Adjust to your desired sweetness level.
- Sweetener syrups can last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator if stored in a sealed container.
Is sweet tea and iced tea the same?
Iced tea is plain tea without any additives.
Sweet tea is brewed tea mixed with sugar.
Depending on where you are living, the terms iced tea and sweet tea are sometimes used interchangeably. If you order an iced tea, it may be pre-sweetened. In the southern USA, sweet tea is most generally made with a black tea and sugar.
Sweetened or Unsweetened Tea
Whether you drink your tea sweetened or unsweetened is a very personal choice. We love enjoying our premium organic tea without sugar to enjoy the natural sweetness of the tea, organic dried fruits, and spices. If you love your tea sweetened, we hope learning how to sweeten tea without sugar helped you decide which sweetener option might be best for you.
Want to learn more? Be sure to Explore Fraser Tea and learn more about tea basics, wellness, origins of tea, tea traditions and new recipes using tea.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and sign up for our Newsletter.
This article is for information sharing only. It should not be used as a substitution for consultation from your licensed medical physician or clinician. Before making any changes to your diet, please consult with your primary care physician.