How to Sweeten Green Tea

When it comes to how to sweeten green tea, there are 3 different options. First, you can sweeten tea directly by adding in things like stevia or agave. Next you can eat a sweet alongside the tea to sweeten it indirectly without altering the flavor. Finally, you can select a sweeter green tea and prepare it the proper way, so that you don’t need to add anything to it. In this article, we are going to discuss 3 ways how to sweeten green tea, and talk about the advantages and disadvantages of each one. We will also go through 11 sweeteners you can use in your green tea and 8 different sweet food parings you can enjoy alongside the tea. Let’s get started! 

How to Sweeten Green Tea - 11 methods without refined sugar 

#1 Organic Honey

If you are trying to sweeten tea while still maintaining its more natural flavors, honey can be a decent solution. A lot of sweeter teas have these dried honey and floral notes to them that will be complimented quite well by the honey. Honey may also be a nice way to sooth the throat during cold and flu season, so it’s a good thing to have alongside your green tea.  

#2 Stevia leaf

If you are looking for How to sweeten green tea without using any refined ingredients, stevia leaf can be a good solution. Although this leaf does not contain any sugar, it is incredibly sweet. The name “stevia” refers to both the entire plant and it also is a nickname for the  “steviol glycosides” which are  the sweet components purified from stevia’s leaves that can make the extract  200-300 times sweeter than table sugar. Make sure to use this sparingly!  

#3 Organic Coconut Sugar

If you prefer to use a different type of sugar to sweeten tea, you can try using coconut sugar. This is actually not made from coconuts, but rather the dried up sap of the coconut palm flowers. This sugar is still something you should avoid, but it is far less processed than refined cane sugar so it can be a healthier alternative. Still use this sparingly if you can.  

#4 Mint or lemon juice 

Adding a little bit of mint or lemon juice to your green tea may not make it sweeter, but it can make it more flavorful. This little added boost of flavor is enough to turn even the skeptics into tea lovers. This is good if you are trying to cut sugar and sweetener out of your diet altogether. It may be difficult to do this all at once, but by adding little additives and flavorings here and there it can make it easier to go without the sugar.  

#5 Almond or soy milk

Because almond or soymilk contains sweeteners, it can be another way to sweeten tea without adding in sugar directly. This method is particularly useful when preparing a matcha green tea latte. Sometimes in your matcha latte, you won’t even need to add sugar at all, you can just mix in the matcha powder with soymilk directly. This will sweeten the tea and also make the matcha latte smoother and creamier as well. 

#6 Date sugar 

Date sugar is the best type of sweeteners to use for many different recipes, but unfortunately it doesn’t work quite as well in tea. Date sugar is made from dried and powdered dates, so it is essentially just a dried fruit rather than a refined sugar. While this does make it a healthy alternative to traditional sweeteners, unfortunately it is not a good way to sweeten tea. The reason for this is because it is not water soluble so it doesn’t dissolve right into the hot tea as granulated sugar would. 

#7 Organic coconut water

Coconut water can have a natural sweetness to it and it does work well with certain types of green tea like matcha green tea powder. This is a good way to add some extra potassium, electrolytes and natural sweetness to your green tea and it can be another healthy alternative to sugar. 

#8 Agave nectar

While sweeteners like honey and agave nectar aren’t a whole lot better for you than sugar, they do have more of a natural sweetness that can be a better compliment to the tea. Agave nectar is made from the nectar of a cactus, and the slightly more vegetal sweetness tends to work better as an additive to green tea. 

#9 Add fruits 

You can also add some fruit to your green tea. This is the healthiest way to sweeten the tea, and it can be a fun way to get your daily fruit intake in. Just add a couple of frozen strawberries to your cold brewed green tea, and you’ll have a nice fruity and refreshing drink to enjoy in the summertime. 

#10 Organic maple syrup

Maple syrup works surprisingly well as a sweetener for green teas like matcha, but it can work even better in roasted teas like hojicha. Hojicha is a great tea for fall, and it plays off these warmer notes of coffee, caramel and chocolate. This makes it a great complement to the maple syrup, giving you a nice sweet cup of roasted tea to enjoy on a cozy fall afternoon. 

#11 Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is another healthy alternative to refinded sugar, but it can be a bit of an acquired taste. We would not recommend using this as a sweetener for most types of Japanese green teas because the tastes might clash, but it can work for heavier roasted teas like hojicha.  

5 Reasons to Drink Tea Without Sugar 

#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 when you sweeten 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 stop using sugar to sweeten tea, you will also be avoiding the negative effects that accompany sugar.

#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 is complexity and that is one of the best parts of tea! The simplicity of tea is lost when you start to sweeten tea or add 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 sweeten 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. 

5 Golden Rules to Make Tea Sweeter without sugar

Haben Sie sich schon einmal gewünscht, dass Ihr grüner Tee ein wenig süßer wäre? Anstatt dem Tee Zucker hinzuzufügen und den natürlichen Geschmack zu verändern, gibt es 5 Tipps, mit denen Sie Ihren Tee süßer machen können. 

Select a tea from a sweet cultivar

Our first tip has to do with the selection of the tea itself. Although all tea comes from the same species of plant, there are hundreds or even thousands of tea plant varieties. These varieties are called cultivars, and they are one of the many ways a tea farmer is able to control the flavor of tea produced. While most Japanese green teas are from the Yabukita cultivar, this is actually one of the more bitter varieties of Japanese tea plants used for green tea. The main reason this plant is used is because it is tougher, and more resistant to the frost of central Japan. 

Im Süden Japans gibt es ein breiteres Spektrum an Teepflanzen, die viel süßer sein können als Yabukita. Wenn Sie auf der Suche nach einem süßeren Tee sind, sollten Sie sich für einen Tee aus der Saemidori-Sorte oder der Asatsuyu-Sorte entscheiden. Allein der Wechsel der Teepflanzensorte kann den Tee etwas süßer machen, aber es gibt noch mehr Faktoren, die für die Süße ausschlaggebend sind.

Go For a Shaded Tea

The second tip is to go for a shaded green tea. If a farmer wants to create a sweeter green tea, they will cover the tea plant in a special type of netting a few days before the harvest. When the tea plant is exposed to sunlight, it will begin to convert the sweet and savory theanine into more bitter catechins. In order to maintain a higher theanine content, the tea plant needs to be cut off from sunlight with these nets. The longer the plant is shaded, the sweeter it can become. Shaded sencha teas can be shaded for around a week. If the tea plant is shaded for over 10 days it is considered to be a Kabusecha. If the tea plant is shaded for a full 21 days or more, it can be used to make Gyokuro or matcha, the two most prized green teas in Japan. If you really want a sweet tea, you should try and find a Gyokuro or a Kabusecha. The Gyokuro Cha Meijin for example is made from the sweet Saemidori tea plant and it is shaded for 3 weeks prior to the harvest, giving it a nice warm sweetness.

Brew the Tea at a Lower Temperature

Sobald Sie im Besitze Ihres Tees sind, müssen Sie sicherstellen, dass Sie ihn auch richtig aufgiessen. Der dritte Tipp zur Zubereitung eines süßeren Tees ist die Verwendung von Wasser mit niedrigerer Temperatur. Zum Vorteil für Liebhaber süßer Tees sind die Bitterstoffe des grünen Tees schwerer zu extrahieren. Wenn Sie zu heißes Wasser verwenden, werden die bitteren Catechine extrahiert und überwältigen die süßeren Aromen des Tees. Sie sollten daher Wasser mit niedrigerer Temperatur verwenden oder den Tee sogar kalt aufgiessen. Für einen warmen Gyokuro empfehlen wir 60 Grad Celsius oder 140 Grad Fahrenheit heißes Wasser. Dadurch wird der Tee weniger bitter.

Cold brewing

Eine extra Variante ist das Aufgiessen des Tees mit kaltem Wasser. Diese Methode wird verwendet, um süßere und sanftere Tees zu erhalten. Geben Sie einfach 5 Gramm Teeblätter auf den Boden einer Kanne, gießen Sie etwas Wasser mit Zimmertemperatur hinzu und lassen Sie den Tee einige Stunden ziehen. Danach giessen Sie den Tee in ein Glas und geniessen dann eine schöne kühle, erfrischende Tasse süßeren grünen Tees.

Brew the tea for a shorter time

Beim Aufgiessen bei einer niedrigeren Temperatur sollten Sie auch darauf achten, dass Sie den Tee nicht zu lange ziehen lassen. Für kalt angesetzten Tee gilt dies vielleicht nicht so sehr, aber selbst 60 Grad Celsius reichen aus, um  Bitterkeit zu extrahieren, wenn man ihn ein paar Minuten zu lange ziehen lässt. Wir empfehlen eine Ziehzeit von 2 Minuten für Gyokuro und 1 Minute für andere japanische Grünteesorten. Der Grund dafür, dass Gyokuro etwas länger ziehen sollte, ist, dass er fester gerollt ist und es daher mehr Zeit braucht, damit sich die Blätter öffnen und ihr Aroma an das Wasser abgeben können. Außerdem enthält der Gyokuro weniger Catechine, so dass weniger Bitterstoffe extrahiert werden. 

Eat a sweet alongside your tea

The fifth and final tip when it comes to making a sweeter cup of green tea is to eat a sweet alongside it. In Japan its not common to add sweeteners to green tea, but what is common is adding a dessert pairing. The reason for this is that when you sweeten tea it disrupts the flavor, so it can’t really be appreciated. By eating a sweet alongside the tea, you are able to appreciate both but the sweet flavor lingers in your palate.

Let’s get into a list of 8 different traditional sweets you can drink with your green tea in order to sweeten it naturally.

Best food pairing to sweeten tea naturally: 

#1 Mochi

The most common pairing for green tea, particularly matcha, is mochi. Mochi is made by pounding glutinous rice into a dough. It’s then often wrapped around something sweet like red adzuki bean paste. This creates a dessert that is both sweet and savory, smoothing out some of the more bitter flavors of the green tea. If you want to avoid refined sugar all together, you can use something like almond butter on a date, which can also work as a great sweet and savory food pairing.

#2 Osenbei

Senbei or roasted rice crackers can be a great snack to enjoy with Japanese green teas. While these are not sweet, they can help to reduce any bitterness you might experience and add a pleasant roasted flavor. This can really enhance your drinking experience, particularly with roasted teas like hojicha and kamairicha. The cereal flavor also pairs well with starchier teas like genmaicha. Try it out and let us know what you think!

#3 Yokan

Yokan is one of the most common sweets drunk alongside matcha. This consistency of this sweet is something like a solid jelly, made with a combination of red beans, agar and sugar. This is very sweet and all you need is a small cube or two to really enhance the sweetness of your green tea experience. 

#4 Nama-Choco

Nama-choco is essentially a Japanese take on a French Ganache. This is a chocolate truffle with a creamy chocolate filling. This sweet and chocolaty flavor is a better paring for dark roasted teas like hojicha because the flavor tends to clash with unroasted green teas like matcha.  

#5 Cheesecake

A dessert like cheesecake tends to pair well with matcha tea. When finding a flavor pairing for matcha, you really want to stick to foods that are sweet yet neutral. Because cheesecake has a sweet and creamy flavor to it, it pairs well with matcha tea without clashing with the flavor. 

#6 Chocolate

As we mentioned before, matcha works best with sweet and neutral flavors, so make sure to use white chocolate with matcha. When it comes to dark chocolate and milk chocolate, you can experiment with roasted teas, as these warmer flavors won’t clash as much.  

#7 Fruits

Of course fruits are the classic food pairing for Japanese green tea. Before refined sugar was brought over from Europe in the 1600’s, most wagashi or Japanese sweets were just different types of fruit. Some of our favorites include strawberries and dates. If you eat a dried or fresh date alongside your matcha tea, you may not even need to find anything else.  

#8 Tsukemono

These are Japanese pickles and they are served in one form or another with virtually every Japanese dish. In the west, we may be most familiar with pickled ginger, which is commonly served with sushi. This has much warmer taste profiles that work well with kamairicha and hojicha. The more traditional pickled vegetables like cabbage and cucumber may work better with the unroasted teas like sencha. 

Final words on how to sweeten green tea 

When it comes down to the question of how to sweeten green tea, you first need to find out where your priorities are. If you really care about health, or you want to fully explore the world of loose leaf green tea, we really recommend to avoid sweetening the green tea as much as possible. When you don’t sweeten tea, you are really able to experience it just as the producer intended, and that is a worthwhile experience. If from time to time you just need a sweet pick-me up, of course it is fine to play around with different sweeteners and food pairings. Whatever brings you closer to the world of tea, we are in full support of!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 4