A cup of green tea goes a long way in nourishing your body and mind, and when it’s paired with the right sweetener, the whole experience becomes as much of a treat as it’s a blessing. Though adding sweetener to your green tea is not the smartest thing to do, if you are like me, you’ll do it anyway, otherwise your “tea thirst” won’t be quenched.
The good news is, there are different ways to go about sweetening your herbal green tea, without depending on sugar or artificial sweeteners. These sweeteners enhance the flavour and also help you to get the most of your organic green tea benefits. So, what is the best natural sweetener for tea, rather green tea? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
First of all, what are the options?
These are the options you can use to sweeten your favourite brew.
Honey and sugar are not very different from one another when it comes to calorie count (even though they are both fat-free). One teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories, whilst the same amount of honey contains about 20 calories. Also, contrary to what you may believe, honey does not contribute any protein or vitamins to your green tea.
Honey adds powerful antioxidants called flavonoids. Also found in Matcha, these flavonoids can reduce your cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease. Like Matcha, honey has anti-cancer properties which can inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours.
The type of honey you’re using also matters. Grocery store honey tends to be processed, which takes away a lot of the antioxidants. Choose organic raw honey as it comes with a lot of beneficial properties.
Organic raw honey is not processed, which means it retains all the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. According to C. Marina Marchese, author of "Honeybee: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper", organic honey is made by bees that live in areas free from pesticides or chemicals.
Honey is probably the best natural sweetener for tea. However, it’s best to limit the amount to one teaspoon or less, even if you drink several cups of green tea a day. And since honey tastes sweeter than sugar, you need only a little bit of it to sweeten your brew.
Quick tip: Add a dash of lemon juice to bring more sweetness without calories, a refreshing flavour and the goodness of vitamin C.
Stevia is a natural, healthy sweetener that has no calories whatsoever. Its flavour is similar to that of licorice. Only a little bit of stevia can give your tea the desired sweetness. Though stevia is also available in a refined form, it’s best to go with unrefined, organic stevia as it retains the therapeutic properties of the stevia plant. However, refined stevia isn’t as harmful as synthetic sweeteners.
Sourced from the Stevia Rebaudiana plant found in Paraguay and other regions of South America, stevia is purported to have medicinal properties such as reducing blood pressure, blood sugar levels in diabetics, boosting immunity, improving oral health and helping digestion.
Also known as “sweet herb” or “honeyleaf,” stevia plant’s leaves are rich in vitamins A and C, along with proteins, carbohydrates, iron, potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium and many other minerals.
Stevia contains an enormous amount of non-toxic molecules that provide more than 30 times the sweetening of sugar. It is used extensively across the world and several studies suggest that it is absolutely safe to use as a natural sweetener.
Not just green tea, stevia goes well with a variety of other teas such as oolong, white tea and black tea.
Quick tip: Before steeping your tea, just add 1 teaspoon of cut stevia leaves to make it refreshingly sweet.
Not only is coconut water refreshing, it is also a powerhouse of antioxidants and electrolytes. Add a splash of coconut water to your tea or use it as a base in your iced tea or your breakfast smoothie.
Coconut water is low-calorie and is enriched with nutrients that keep you hydrated throughout the day. It also improves urinary function.
But do keep in mind that coconut water is not for everyone and you might want to “take a test drive” before actually drinking green tea with it. If it’s not as sweet as you thought it would be, you probably won’t like it. Coconut water works best for those who like their tea sweet but not too sweet.
Blackstrap molasses is a great source of calcium, potassium, and iron. One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses has more iron yet fewer calories than an 85-gram serving of red meat. It’s a naturally healthier option than artificial sweeteners.
Quick tip: Go for the organic, Fair Trade Certified, organic version blackstrap molasses.
Organic maple syrup is probably the most natural way to sweeten your tea. It’s low in calories and contains more minerals than honey. It can also prevent heart disease and keep cancer at bay, according to a 2011 study by a pharmacist from the University of Rhode Island.
Quick tip: When buying, make sure the label reads “100 percent maple syrup”.
There are natural sweeteners which are fermented to make sugar alcohol sweeteners such as xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol etc. These contain fewer calories than sugar and honey. Research has found sugar alcohols to be have preventative properties for oral cavity.
Quick tip: Buy organic, non-corn sugar alcohols. The other options are genetically engineered.
These herbs can help you get more of the desired sweetness in your tea.
Apart from sweetness, they’ll also add therapeutic properties to your blend.
Whichever of these you choose, make sure to use it in moderation. Include it in your balanced diet and make sure to stick to the same quantity every day. If you like more than 6-8 teaspoons of sugar a day, use artificial sweeteners instead. However, limit the quantity to 8 pills or 8 teaspoons a day.
Eat clean, stay healthy.
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