Japanese Green Tea is a wonderful drink for many reasons: In many communities it’s an affordable drink, in others it’s a component to history and/or culture. Tea is also enjoyed for its flavor and for some, the sheer complexities in flavors, processing, and approach to producing the end product. For those of us who want to enjoy a nice cup of tea, it may be the simple part of a busy morning. How many, however, deviate from our tea norms? Do you ever find yourself experimenting with tea? Why or why not?
5 – Agave Syrup
Agave Syrup is a very common sweetener used often in Japan. In fact, I had never heard of it before living in Japan. Perhaps the sweetest option in this list, it is nonetheless nothing to shy away from. Common with matcha it can also be added to other green teas including sencha. Dark agave syrups tend to be stronger in caramel flavor while lighter agave syrups tend to be more neutral. They generally contain no aftertaste. Agave is not the healthiest option in this list. In fact, it is known for its high fructose content.
6 – Soy Milk
Soy milk is likely the most subtle of sweeteners on this list. It is high in protein content being that it comes from edamame beans and contains vitamins A and B-12, and potassium and calcium. It is also naturally free of cholesterol and low in saturated fat. This plant-based option may have a beanlike taste and is not for everyone. Unsweetened soy milk has about as many calories as skim milk and double that of almond milk. Unfortunately, soy is a relatively common allergy.
7 – Date Sugar
Date sugar comes from, yes, dates. Dates are often sold as dried through the North Atlantic world. Dates contain a lot of fiber and date sugar contains this in a textured form via a tiny grit in the sugar. Date sugar is sweet and is noted for its butterscotch-like flavor. While being high in fiber, dates are also high in antioxidants. Further, you’ll be getting bone-supporting minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
8 – Monk Fruit
Monk fruit is probably the most difficult item to find on this list. Select stores have the fruit itself while various monk fruit sweeteners are available online. Like stevia, this fruit is a great zero-calorie option. Its sweetness is derived from mogrosides. Mogrosides do not contribute calories to our body because they are not absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract. In fact, some are absorbed into the bloodstream while the rest is excreted from your body entirely. For diabetics, this fruit does not increase blood sugars. Monk fruit can be found in not only tea but also coffee and yoghurt. It has a coarse, sugar-like consistency and a subtle aftertaste. Monk fruit may be sweeter than stevia and is approximately 200-300 times sweeter than regular white sugar.
9 – Xylitol
Xylitol rounds out this list of sencha sweeteners. While it looks and tastes like sugar, it is not in fact sugar. This sweetener is labelled as a sugar alcohol and you will find it in chewing gum, all sorts of candies, mints, and many other products. Like sugar in taste, it has fewer calories and unlike sugar, Xylitol contributes to healthier oral health! Being similar to sugar in a number of ways, it’s hardly surprising that Xylitol is continuing to increase in popularity.
Part of this journey is understanding what flavors you’re hoping to get out of your cup of tea. As you can tell, the variations in sweetness apply as well as potentially familiar flavors. There is more than enough in the world of sweeteners to either slowly expand what you are comfortable with or to try something completely new! Perhaps another part of this journey is to simply learn more about what could go in your cup of tea.
Author Kei Nishida is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, and uses product images with permission