Having less sugar with tea can be a great way to get you closer to your health goals. When we think of sugar, we normally think of things like ice cream or candy, but the sugar we drink can also be a huge source of empty calories.
A can of coca-cola can have close to 40 grams of sugar! When most people drink tea, they tend to think of it as a healthy drink and in order to honor that we should drink it as close to sugar free as possible.
When people ask can you add sugar to tea, we like to recommend they go for a tea that is good enough to drink plain, without sugar.
This said, let’s go into each fact that will help you to drink green tea with less sugar. We'll also talk about when do you put sugar in tea if you absolutely have to. Let's get started!
Is it normal to mix sugar with tea?
While it is considered normal to add sugar with tea in places like the U.S and U.K, it is virtually unheard of in Japan.
Even the tea intended for the broader market is unsweetened.
You have more green tea less sugar even with bottled teas.
Japan has vending machines filled with unsweetened green tea and they commonly outsell sugary soft drinks.
With some bottled teas in the U.S having as much as 64 grams of sugar, it begs the question whether it should be called tea with sugar or sugar with tea.
Do you put sugar in tea if it's high quality?
High quality Japanese green teas are naturally sweet, and therefore you really don’t need to add sugar to them.
This naturally sweetness comes from the careful production process, and if the tea is brewed right, it can produce a beautiful, sweet and smooth flavor. If you want more green tea less sugar, you may want to switch to shaded Japanese green teas.
How much sugar is naturally in tea?
According to a study out of the Tea Research Institute in Sri Lanka, tea sprouts were found to have 0.3%-0.8% of their weight in glucose and 0.9%-2.3% of their weight in fructose.
These are the two major soluble sugars in green tea.
The sugar with tea that occurs naturally is not a concern because a brewed cup of tea only contains 2 calories.
What ends up being a problem is when people add sugar with tea.
This can really increase the calories in a the drink, and reduce the health benefits of tea.
How much sugar should you add to tea?
When it comes to how much sugar you should add to tea, the short answer is that you should add none. Even adding the tiniest pinch of sugar to your green tea can really cloud the flavor and prevent you from enjoying the drinking experience.
A high quality Japanese green tea will have a complex flavor profile. It should show a little bit of sweetness, a little bit of astringency and many other flavors. When you add sugar, this really clouds your ability to evaluate the tea, and you end up missing out on a lot of the flavors.
can you add sugar to tea if you're used to sweet drinks?
If you are used to very sugary drinks like sweet tea, you may want to work up to the sugar free version. If your goal is to be able to drink unsweetened tea less sugar every time is a good way to get there.
Just start by adding a little bit less sugar then you normally do, then work your way up to one spoonful and then one teaspoon. It will take your taste buds about 5 days to get used to a new level of sweetness, so it should only take a month or so for you to really crave the flavors of sugar free tea.
How to Sweeten Green Tea Without Sugar
What are Healthy Ways to prepare Green Tea with Less Sugar?
As mentioned before, in Japan it is extremely uncommon to add sugar to tea. What they do instead is eat a sweet alongside the green tea. These sweets, also called “wagashi” are essentially a sweet flavor pairing for the Japanese green tea.
They can accentuate some of the sweet characteristics of the tea, and smooth out a lot of the bitterness. If you want to try a version of this at home, one simple sweet you can use is a fresh date.
Can you put sugar in tea if it is bitter?
Even if the tea has a little bit of bitterness to it, the sweet flavor of the date should really balance it out. Dates are delicious, healthy and even though they contain natural sugars, you won’t get the spike and crash in energy.
The best part is, by eating a sweet alongside your green tea, you can still pick up on the subtle flavors of the tea, because your not mixing anything directly into it.
5 Reasons to Drink Tea Without Sugar
Other than being a healthier choice to drink, there are all sorts of benefits to enjoying tea less sugar. By avoiding sugar with tea you can enjoy 5 major benefits.
#1 Tea is a naturally healthy treat
If you made it this far in the article, you likely already know that tea is a healthy drink. Unfortunately, the positive effects of green tea are often negated by adding lots of sugar into it.
Green tea is virtually calorie free, but by adding sugar with tea, you are basically turning it into a soda. This in a way defeats a lot of the purpose of tea, which is a celebration of simplicity.
#2 Avoid the crash
If you’ve ever had too much sugar, you have no doubt experienced a sugar crash. This might have been okay when you were a kid, but now that you have things to do you can’t afford to have a sudden drop in energy!
When you have sugar with tea, you are greatly increasing your chances of having a crash. The best way to avoid this, is to reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet.
While desserts are the obvious culprit, sugary drinks are a bit more sneaky and can be a huge source of refined sugars.
#3 Save money with multiple infusions.
When you brew high quality, loose leaf tea, you are able to get multiple infusions out of the leaves.
You can use 5 grams of leaves to make 4-5 separate cups of green tea, each one with a different flavor. If you are able to enjoy each brewing of the tea, you can really save some money.
Each cup of tea only comes down to a few cents if you prepare it right, and the difference between high quality and low quality is like night and day!
#4 Simplify the brewing process
Tea in its essence is simple, all you are doing is adding leaves to water. Within that simplicity lies complexity and that is one of the best parts of tea! The simplicity of tea is lost when you start thinking about adding other ingredients to the infusion.
Do yourself a favor and just get back to the basics. You may find that there is something meditative about just adding the leaves to water and pouring them out into the cup.
#5 Taste your tea
Finally we come down to the most important part, and that is the taste of your tea. The taste of the tea is everything, and if you’re not able to experience it in its fullest, purest form you are really not experiencing it.
When you add sugar to your tea, it’s almost like you are looking at it through a foggy pair of glasses.
The subtle sweetness that takes so much work to cultivate is lost, and even the pleasant bitterness that many tea drinkers enjoy is completely unrecognizable.
There is something about experiencing the drink just as the farmer intended that brings a deeper connection to the drinker and the field the tea was produced on.
Can you put sugar in tea if it pairs well?
If you really must add sugar with tea we can give you a tea that works best. The Kuki Hojicha is a dark roasted green tea from the region of Miyazaki in Southern Japan.
This tea has a warmer, darker flavor profile that works great with oat milk and sugar.
The flavor of this tea is strong on these notes of black coffee and dark chocolate, and while most Japanese green teas do not work well with milk and sugar, this one is quite good!
Can you put sugar in tea all the time?
Just be sure to reserve this as an occasional indulgence and not something you drink all the time. If you want a tea for everyday drinking, go for a naturally sweet green tea like the Shizuku sencha. This tea also works great as a cold brew in the summertime!
5 Ways to Make Your Green Tea Sweeter Without Adding Sugar
How many calories in milk tea with sugar
There are 37 calories in ¼ cup of milk and 48 calories in just a tablespoon of sugar. This means that a regular cup of tea contains 2 calories and one with milk and sugar added contains 87. This small change can make your drink have 43 times as many calories compared to if you drank more green tea less sugar.
If you are looking for the healthy, more natural alternative try drinking green tea without the added calories. Just this simple switch alone can open up a whole world of possibilities and you’ll discover so many different flavors.
If you want to try many different green teas from all over Japan and see which ones you like most, you can try our mega sampler.
During the past 3 years, we’ve traveled all around Japan in search of the best green tea without pesticides. What we decided on was this collection of 30 types of matcha, sencha, gyokuro, hojicha, genmaicha, bancha, kamairicha and kukicha. You can try all of them at once and let us know what your favorites are!
So Do you put sugar in tea? Final conclusion
So can you add sugar to tea? With all the downsides that come from using sugar with tea, it's best to just go for a tea that doesn't need to be sweetened. At Nio, we like to think we are making the world a little bit healthier by replacing these sweet sugary drinks with delicious organic green teas.
The green teas we use may just be leaves and water, but a few of them actually have quite a bit of sweetness to them, like the Gyokuro Cha Meijin. This is why it is important to not add sugar with tea as it can, in many ways, defeat the purpose of this natural gift.