Artp said

Teas that are great without sweeteners

Hey all;

Trying to eliminate sugar from my diet (history of diabetes in my family, etc), and considering I can easily consume 8 mugs of tea a day, removing sugar from my tea would be a great way to start. I’m looking for suggestions on teas that you really enjoy with no added sweeteners.

I typically drink rich black teas in the morning (earl grey imperial from carney & sons is my favorite) and lighter teas in the afternoon (ginger teas with lemon, etc).

25 Replies

I drink all teas without sugar. The higher quality loose leaf teas are meant to be drunk without sugar, otherwise you would be wasting your money.

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AJ said

Honestly, seconding Ricardo and a good chunk of at least the active posters on Steepster, all. You’ve already posted about a couple of teas in your log, so I’d start experimenting with those.

Anastasia (from your log) in particular is one of my favourite Kusmi teas, and I don’t drink it sweetened. Often the jump from sweetened to unsweetened is a little more difficult because we tend to overbrew teas we intend to add stuff to. So I’d maybe revisit a few things you already have in your cupboard, and if they’re too sharp without sweetener, maybe dial back how long you steep them for.

Great advice; I completely second this! You could already be sitting on a treasure trove and not even know it :)

One thing I will say though, if you enjoy EG but aren’t as big on it without the sweetener I’d look into finding a Cream Earl Grey/Vanilla Earl Grey – they’re a lot smoother and less abrasive, and I find I far enjoy this slight variation on an EG to the straight one. Especially if I’m drinking it straight.

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Gitana said

I gave up sugar 3 years ago. I found the best way was “cold turkey” and just tough it out. The cravings didn’t go away right away, but I did learn to ignore them. After a few weeks food started tasting sweet on its own. Tomatoes taste like candy! I found commercial bread suddenly too sweet!
Go cold turkey if you can. You get used to the new flavors you taste without all the sugar and sugary things suddenly taste disgusting.

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Sugar is often added to tea for two reasons:
1. To add flavor that is otherwise missing due to low quality tea.
2. Cover up bitterness that is otherwise too strong due to low quality tea.

The simple solution – buy higher quality teas! Nothing extravagant is needed of course, but I would recommend some full leaf teas that come from a vendor that you can trust, preferably single estate. Tea has a natural sweetness so it doesn’t need sugar, you just need to make sure the tea is good enough that the sweetness comes through.

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Artp said

I appreciate all the feedback. Do y’all have any favorite tea providers? Most of my experience has been with harney& sons and davidstea

I’m a bit biased since we are a vendor. I sincerely hope you check out our site at I’m more than happy to answer any specific questions about our company or our teas here or via email / PM.

But, some other vendors that you may want to check out (I haven’t tried them all, but these are the ‘usual suspects’):
What-Cha (large, diverse selection)
YatraTeaCompany (Indian Teas)
Yunnan Sourcing (Best for Pu’erh, but diverse selection)
Teavivre (Focus on Chinese greens)
And many others.

For the sake of transparency, I’m employed by DAVIDsTEA so I’ve got a bit of a bias there.

However, these are some of my non DAVIDsTEA favourite vendors at the moment, especially if you’re leaning towards flavoured teas rather than traditional/straight teas. And it sounds like that might be the case…

- A Quarter To Tea (A mix of seasonal and permanent teas)
- 52Teas (Almost all limited edition blends)
- Citizen Tea
- August Uncommon (All seasonal blends)
- Silk Road Tea
- Bluebird Tea Co.

August Uncommon also has a really good clearance sale running right now; I think until end of March? It’s like 50-75% off most of their stock though.

Dr Jim said

I wouldn’t limit Teaavivre to green teas. I buy their keemuna and ooolongs, which I drink without sweetener. Sheng puerh is also great without sugar. Shop W2T, YS, Bitterleaf, or Tea Urchin for the best puerh.

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Random said

I have to echo the above.

Good quality teas don’t need anything.

You might be surprised that you’ll find you enjoy a lot of your existing teas without sweetener if you give it a try.

You might also be surprised what happens to your taste when you give up sugar\sweeteners. Tomatoes do indeed taste like candy. So do carrots. Most fruit is actually sickeningly sweet to me.

I personally enjoy 100% dark chocolate (yes, like the baking chocolate you find in stores). It used to seem incredibly bitter to me, but after 4 years of no sugars and almost no sweeteners at all, I enjoy it all on its own. I even had a square of it with my tea this morning.

A bit off topic here, but my favorite chocolate in the world is Michel Cluizel’s 99% “Noir Infini”. I highly recommend it if you want good, very dark chocolate.

Random said

My personal favorite is Montezuma’s Absolute Black. 100% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. Its exceptionally good. :)

jamin said

Your taste for bitterness has me interested in what kind of teas you like. Any recommendations? I’ve been really enjoying the YS OG Yellow.

Random said

I’m currently in a rut and been drinking Golden Snail from Whispering Pines almost exclusively. I also really like the Imperial Gold Bud Dian Hong.

I started out preferring a lot of Assam, but as I went on discovered I tend to lean towards Chinese blacks. One of these days I swear I’m going to experiment more with oolongs.

I’m not necessarily a fan of bitter teas, I just happen to like 100% dark chocolate. :)

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Excelsior said

I don’t sweeten Japanese Greens, Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong, or Rooibos, but I do sweeten some black teas.

I don’t necessarily think you need to eliminate all sweeteners but I would recommend adding only a miniscule amount. 1/4 teaspoon per 12 FL OZ (355ml) of tea. By adding just this small amount, it enhances the flavors contained within my Spring and Summer Darjeeling teas. I am particular about the sugar I use. It’s the highly pure Spoon Brand Mitsui White Crystal Sugar. It has no taste expect for the hint of sweetness it adds to the tea. Try your tea with and without sweetners and decide what tastes best to you. You can even reduce the sugar level to 1/8 teaspoon. Drinking 8 large mugs (96F FL OZ!?), it will only add 1 teaspoon of sugar to your diet.

“Drinking 8 large mugs (96F FL OZ!?)”

Alright alright, you can stop teasing us now.

(Sorry, been travelling all day and will be home too late to have tea :( )

There’s some science in play here. “Detection threshold” is the amount of sugar/salt/etc that you need to add so that your tongue and brain say “yes, there is something here” and “recognition threshold” is the increased amount where your tongue and brain say “the added taste that is present is Sweet/Salty/etc”

Those are independent of “how sweet do I like this particular tea” because DT and RT are checked in plain water and tea has a lot more flavor/aroma/mouthfeel components.

What helped my understanding of sugar use was putting a cupful in a separate container and choosing that I could use as much as I wanted, but when it was gone, that was it for the month. I never wanted to run out, so I ended up only using about 2/3 of the quantity.

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If you brew the tea lighter—less leaf per cup—you might be able to bypass some of bitterness that requires sugar to balance. Honeybush is kind of sweet on its own. Can you tolerate stevia? Rather than cutting sugar out entirely, consider decreasing gradually, or add milk instead of sugar.

Honey, agave syrup, and brown rice syrup are all going to be inadequate substitutes if you’re aiming for a decrease in calories. Diabetic friends of mine are having decent results with sugar-free Torani flavored syrups, or just drinking water with lemon juice, about a tsp per glass.

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Hi, you might find this tea with natural Stevia beneficial.

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jamin said

I simply adore bitterness and astringency in tea. Every tea has it’s own unique character as to these qualities. There are whole worlds to be discovered here. Also I’d like to mention that story about the tea master who makes his students find something to enjoy in the worst tea he can find, then gives them good stuff.

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