12 Healthier Ways To Sweeten Tea Without Sugar

First of all, I need to mention this. As a former sweet tea addict, I can testify that it is possible to enjoy unsweetened or lightly sweetened tea even if you can’t stand the idea of sugarless tea right now. Growing up I used to add 5 teaspoons of sugar per cup of tea (I guess you can say I added tea to my sugar). Now I very rarely add any sweeteners to my tea and I wouldn’t have it any other way! Although I do occasionally enjoy a chocolate chip cookie with my tea. 🙂

A cup of tea with lemon piece on top and sugar on the side.

However, this article is not about sugarless tea. I will show you alternative ways to sweeten your tea to make it healthier and more flavorful!

Common Sugar Substitutes for Tea

1. Honey

honey with a spoon scooping from the jar.

Pros

1. Honey is better for blood sugar levels than white sugar, it is rich in antioxidants, and helps when you have a cold or a cough.

2. Honey is very sweet so you won’t need a whole lot of it to make up for the sugar!

Cons

1. Can be expensive.

2. Is not good for you in large amounts. You should be just as careful with honey as with other added sugars.

3. Honey is the second biggest source of calories in sweeteners after sugar.

Bottom line: honey is slightly better than sugar in terms of health.

2. Maple Syrup

Pros

1. Blood sugar levels rise slower than with sugar or honey which is a good thing!

2. Has slightly more nutritional value than honey (and, of course, sugar).

3. Is super sweet, so you will not need a lot of it to make up for the sugar!

Cons

1. High caloric content (although a bit less than in honey).

2. Has to be consumed in moderation just like sugar and honey. AHA’s recommendation for daily maple syrup intake is the same as for sugar.

3. Can be expensive.

Bottom line: maple syrup is slightly better than honey and sugar in terms of health.

3. Molasses

molasses in a little bowl with a spoon.

Pros

1. Healthier than white sugar.

2. Better for blood sugar than white sugar.

3. Contains more nutrients than honey or maple syrup.

4. Is very sweet, so you won’t need a whole lot of it to replace sugar.

5. Cheaper than maple syrup and honey.

Cons

1. You can only eat 1 tbsp a day according to the experts.

Bottom line: molasses are both better than honey&maple syrup in terms of health AND cheaper than both of them.

4. Milk

Pros

1. Low-caloric content in comparison with sugar.

2. Masks the bitterness of the tea thus taking away the need for a sweetener.

3. For my vegan readers my favorite milk for tea is rice and coconut milk.

Cons

1. Not as sweet as sugar.

Bottom line: milk is a great option to mask the bitterness of the tea and reduce the calories!

BONUS: use one of these sugar-free desserts as a side for the tea and sweeten it that way!

Fruit Sweeteners

5. Monk Fruit (Or Extract)

monk fruit with a glass with brown liquid.

Pros

1. Contains 0 calories!

2. Is 100-250 times sweeter than white sugar.

3. Has more nutritional value than sugar.

4. Can be bought as a powder to add to the tea without extra work.

Cons

1. More research is needed to confirm the health benefits of the fruit.

Bottom line: a great option for sweetening tea in terms of health. Chop the fruit into small pieces and steep it in your teacup along with the tea leaves or buy it as powder and add it straight to your tea cup!

6. Dried Fruits

Pros

1. Way healthier than sugar.

2. Can be made at home from fresh fruit.

3. Can be cheap depending on the fruit type.

Cons

1. Not as sweet as sugar.

Bottom line: using dried fruits in place of sugar will need some time of adjustment as your tea won’t be as sweet. However, if you are concerned for your health, this change is worth your while!

7. Fresh Fruits

Pros

1. Great source of vitamins.

2. Can be cheap depending on the fruit type.

Cons

1. Requires a little bit of chopping.

2. Not as sweet as sugar.

Bottom line: very similar to dried fruit, only fresh fruit needs to be cut into small pieces and added to the tea leaves before steeping.

8. Fruit Puree

Pros

1. Easy to incorporate into the tea thus yielding more flavor and sweetness.

2. You can make puree ahead of time so that there is no extra work needed during tea time.

3. You can create any combination of fruits and create unique flavors.

Cons

1. Requires a bit of extra work.

2. You will need a blender to make the puree (or buy it premade which is more expensive.)

Bottom line: easier to use than dried or fresh fruit but generally has the same qualities and level of sweetness. Definitely better than sugar!

9. Herbs (Mint, Peppermint, Rose Hips, Rosemary, and Sage)

Pros

1. Add to the flavor profile thus taking away the bitterness of the tea.

2. The flavors of herbs might take away the need for sugar (unless you like your tea REALLY sweet).

Cons

1. Doesn’t add sweetness

Bottom line: a great way to make your tea unique every time but not the best way to sweeten tea.

Artificial Sugar Substitutes (Most Popular Ones)

10. Stevia

Stevia close up.

Pros

1. Low-calorie and low-carb.

2. Healthier than sugar but other health benefits like dental protection and blood pressure management are not proven.

Cons

1. Has a strange taste that not everyone likes and thus requires the addition of other sweeteners to make up for the weird aftertaste.

Bottom line: stevia is a good substitute for sugar but does compromise the flavor of the tea.

11. Xylitol

Xylitol on a spoon.

Pros

1. Proven health benefits.

2. Doesn’t have a strange aftertaste.

3. Tastes almost like sugar.

Cons

1. You shouldn’t eat too much of it, although it’s ok to use more xylitol than sugar.

2. While sugar has 4 calories per gram, xylitol has 2.4 calories per gram which makes it healthier, yet, not as good for weight loss as stevia or monk fruit extract.

Bottom line: xylitol is way better than stevia when it comes to artificial sweeteners but is worse than monk fruit extract.

12. Erythritol

Erythritol on a spoon.

Pros

1. Contains only 6% calories compared to white sugar.

2. Has a good potential for health benefits.

3. A person can eat 1g per each kg of body weight which is more than the allowed daily sugar dose.

4. The aftertaste disappears quickly.

Cons

1. If consumed in large amounts may cause digestive side effects.

Bottom line: a great artificial substitute for sugar in tea.

Don’t Use These Sweeteners

Agave syrup

Pros

1. It is sweet.

Cons

1. More calories than white sugar.

2. The processing involved in making agave syrup destroys its potential benefits.

3. More expensive than sugar.

Bottom line: agave is the worst choice for sweetening tea. You will be better off by using regular sugar!

Coconut Sugar

Pros

1. Flavor.

Cons

1. In spite of coconut sugar being more natural than white sugar, its nutritional and caloric content is almost the same as regular sugar’s.

2. You should limit your intake of coconut sugar just as you do white sugar.

3. Expensive.

Bottom line: you are not gaining anything other than flavor by using coconut sugar in place of white sugar.

Rock Sugar

Pros

1. Some people believe it is healthier than sugar (but it is not proven).

2. Less sweet than white sugar.

Cons

1. Often made from white sugar which defeats the purpose of substitution.

2. The caloric and nutritional content are almost identical to that of white sugar.

Bottom line: don’t bother with rock sugar. 🙂

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