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The best sweeteners should not only add sweetness, but enhance the flavor of your tea too. The world of sweeteners can be as complicated as the world of tea itself, so choosing the right one is not always the easiest task. Sweeteners can be natural or artificial, and can have calories or can be calorie free.
Artificial sweeteners may be a good options if you are looking to add sweetness but keep calories to a minimum. They are often calorie free. All unsweetened herbal and real teas contain almost zero calories. The primary reason for using artificial sweeteners is that they don’t raise the blood sugar levels.
Stevia is technically a natural sweetener. However, most of stevia products come in a little pill form, liquid or powder, instead of leaves. Stevia is made from the leaf of Stevia rebaudiana, it’s calorie free and at least 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Aspartame is one of the most used artificial sweeteners in the world. It’s present in many diet drinks and sugar-free sweets. This synthetic sweetener is made from amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid, with a methyl ester. There’s a lot of debate about its safety and risks, with some studies claiming it is risk and side-effect free, while others list a number of potential illnesses that it could cause.
Unlike artificial sweeteners, natural sweeteners contain calories and may provide numerous benefits. They are made from natural ingredients. All natural sweeteners will raise blood sugar, but not all of them are necessarily bad for health. In fact, some may provide benefits, and are a much better option for a white refined sugar.
Honey is by far one of the most popular and possibly healthiest sweeteners in the world. It can be raw and filtered. Studies show that honey may provide a myriad of benefits, including inti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. So is there a better way to make a healthy cup of tea even healthier than by adding a teaspoon of honey? Probably not. Don’t add honey to a boiling tea. The best temperature to enhance the benefits will depend on the type of honey and tea, and will generally be between 65-85°C. The best teas to drink with honey are black tea, green tea, rooibos, jasmine tea, and chamomile tea. Some honeys are also flavored or infused for additional flavour and health benefits. Check out our organic infused honeys here.
Maple syrup is similarly complementary to honey, but with a more traditional (and obvious) maple flavor. An unexpected nuttiness can often be found with maple-sweetened beverages.
White sugar or simple syrup acts as a good blank-slate sweetener, though many avoid due to the high glycemic rating, and some say it changes the flavor of their tea. Simple syrup is a fan favorite for iced tea, as it requires no melting and mixes beautifully with cold liquid.
Agave syrup has half as much of the glycemic impact of honey or table sugar, with a similar kick of sweetness. Be careful not to over-use, as it is very sweet!
Stevia packs a very low glycemic punch, though it has a distinctive, slightly herbaceous-chemical flavor that can be divisive.
Coconut sugar adds toastiness similar to a brown sugar, with earthy undertones that also works well for those seeking a low-glycemic option.
Coconut oil, surprisingly, can add a light sweetness and earthiness that especially compliments green teas. Froth or blend into your tea so as not to leave an oil slick sitting atop your liquid.