What can I add to green tea to sweeten it?

Green tea is known for its many health benefits – it’s full of antioxidants, may help with weight loss, and has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, one thing people often find with green tea is that it has a slightly bitter, grassy taste, especially when compared to more oxidized teas like black tea. For those who prefer a sweeter tea, there are several natural ways to subtly enhance the flavor of green tea.

When choosing sweeteners for green tea, it’s best to use natural options that won’t overpower the gentle green tea flavor. Simple additions like honey, agave nectar, maple syrup or stevia are good choices. Fruits, spices, herbs and even flavored syrups can also add sweetness and new dimensions to your cup of green tea. Here’s an overview of some of the top options for sweetening green tea in a healthy, natural way.


Honey is one of the most popular choices for sweetening green tea. Made by bees from flower nectar, honey has a natural sweetness that complements the grassy flavor of green tea. It mixes in smoothly and imparts a subtle sweetness without overpowering the tea.

Manuka honey is considered one of the best types of honey to use. It has a rich, rounded flavor and unique health properties from the bees’ gathering of pollen from the Manuka bush in New Zealand. In general, it’s best to use raw, unprocessed honey to retain the most nutrients and natural flavors.

When adding honey to your green tea, you’ll usually want to use about 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon per 8 oz cup of tea. You can add the honey directly to your tea, or mix it first with a small amount of hot water from the kettle to help it dissolve easier. Keep in mind that because honey is an animal product, this option won’t work for vegans.

Benefits of using honey

– Natural sweetness
– Mixes smoothly into tea
– Subtle enhancement of green tea’s natural flavor
– Additional health benefits of honey like antioxidants and antibacterial properties

Downsides of using honey

– Contains calories and carbohydrates like other sugars
– Not suitable for vegans or those avoiding animal products
– Honey flavor may overpower more delicate green teas

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup makes another excellent addition to green tea, lending a subtly sweet, earthy flavor. Made from the sap of maple trees, real maple syrup has high levels of antioxidants in addition to vitamins and minerals like zinc and manganese. It offers a sweeter flavor than honey, so you’ll usually use less – around 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon per cup of tea is often sufficient.

When buying maple syrup, it’s best to get 100% pure grades like Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste or Grade A Very Dark Color, Strong Taste. Avoid “maple flavored syrups” which are mostly corn syrup with artificial flavors. The darker A grade syrups have the strongest maple flavor that can stand up well in green tea, without being overpowering.

Benefits of using maple syrup

– Provides deep, earthy sweetness
– 100% pure maple syrup contains beneficial nutrients and antioxidants
– Stronger maple flavor balances grassy green tea flavor
– Small amounts are needed to sweeten tea

Downsides of using maple syrup

– Still contains sugar and calories like other sweeteners
– Dark grades may overpower delicate green tea flavors
– Can have a slightly bitter aftertaste depending on grade


Stevia is a very popular sugar substitute that can help sweeten green tea without adding any additional calories. Stevia comes from the leaves of the stevia plant. Through processing, a sweet compound called rebaudioside A is extracted. Stevia has a glycemic index of 0, meaning it has no effect on blood sugar levels.

Stevia often comes in a white powdered form that you can stir into tea. There are also liquid stevia extracts which may blend more smoothly. Be careful with the amount of stevia you use, as it is extremely potent – start with just a few drops or pinches and adjust to taste. A little goes a long way.

Benefits of using stevia

– Zero calories and carbohydrates
– Sweeter than sugar so you need very small amounts
– Won’t spike blood sugar
– Convenient powder or liquid forms

Downsides of using stevia

– Can have bitter, artificial aftertaste at high amounts
– Cooling sensation may seem odd in hot tea
– Powder can clump if not stirred in well


Using chopped dates is an easy way to add light sweetness plus beneficial nutrients to green tea. Medjool dates are soft, plump and particularly sweet, making them ideal for sweetening tea. You can simply chop 1-2 pitted dates into small pieces and add them directly to your cup of green tea. Allow to steep for a few minutes so the date flavor infuses into the tea.

Dates blend in well while adding sweetness from their natural sugars. They also provide dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants like polyphenols and carotenoids. The date pieces soften as they steep, breaking down to sweeten the tea.

Benefits of using dates

– Provide natural source of sugars for sweetness
– Also add beneficial fiber, minerals and antioxidants
– Subtle flavor doesn’t overpower green tea
– No added calories if replacing usual sugar

Downsides of using dates

– Need to have dates on hand to prepare
– Some may not like chunks of dates in tea
– Sugars may spike blood sugar like other sweeteners

Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are a popular way to liven up plain green tea. You can try citrus juices like orange, lemon or lime, or sweeter juices like apple, peach, mango or berry juices. Adding just a splash of fruit juice can provide natural sweetness and fun fruity flavors.

The trick is to not overdo it on the juice, as too much can make the tea overly sweet and fruity. Start with a ratio of about 2 parts green tea to 1 part juice. For example, for an 8 ounce cup of tea, try adding 2-3 ounces of juice. You can always add more if desired.

Benefits of using fruit juices

– Wide variety of flavors from different juices
– Adds sweetness along with unique fruit taste
– Fun way to mix up your usual green tea

Downsides of using fruit juices

– Sugary juices spike blood sugar without fiber
– Can dilute the green tea too much with large amounts
– Acidity of some juices may alter tea chemistry

Herbs and Spices

In addition to sweet ingredients, certain herbs and spices can nicely complement the flavor of green tea. Options like cinnamon, cardamom, fresh mint, lavender, lemongrass and ginger can add sweet, spicy or floral notes while enhancing the tea’s aroma and taste.

For the best flavor, use fresh herbs like mint or lavender snipped from the stem rather than dried versions. For woody spices like cinnamon or cardamom, it’s better to prepare them with the green tea directly to allow the flavors to infuse.

Here are some recommended combinations:

– Ginger and lemon – Boil fresh sliced ginger with green tea and add lemon juice
– Mint – Add fresh mint leaves to steeped green tea
– Cinnamon – Brew cinnamon sticks with green tea
– Cardamom – Crush cardamom pods and add to brewing tea leaves
– Lavender – Add fresh lavender sprigs or buds to hot tea
– Lemongrass – Steep lemongrass stalks in green tea

The amounts can be adjusted to your taste preferences, but start with about 1-2 teaspoons of fresh herbs or crushed spices per 8 ounce cup of tea. Herbs and spices add interest and sweetness in a more subtle way than just adding sugar or honey.

Benefits of using herbs and spices

– Provide natural, more complex sweetness and flavors
– Many also have added health benefits
– Enhance the natural flavors of green tea
– Allow creativity and customization

Downsides of using herbs and spices

– Need to have fresh herbs and spices on hand
– Can sometimes make tea seem medicinal if overdone
– Trial and error to find combinations you enjoy

Flavored Syrups

Flavored syrups offer an easy way to quickly sweeten and add new flavors to green tea. Syrups made from natural ingredients like cane sugar, fruits, nuts or spices can add sweetness along with tailored flavors ranging from classics like vanilla or hazelnut to trendy options like salted caramel or pumpkin spice.

When adding syrups, use a teaspoon or less per cup of tea to avoid overpowering the green tea flavor. Start with just 1⁄4 teaspoon and increase if desired. Some syrup varieties that pair well with green tea include:

– Vanilla – Adds sweet, aromatic vanilla undertones
– Almond – Provides a sweet, nutty flavor
– Coconut – Imparts a subtle tropical taste
– Ginger – Good for spicy ginger flavor with sweetness
– Lavender – Floral, perfume-like sweetness

You can find a range of flavored syrups online or at many coffee shops and grocery stores. Opt for syrups made without lots of artificial additives. Also, be aware that some syrups contain calories and sugars similar to other sweeteners. But used sparingly, flavored syrups can be a convenient way to quickly change up your green tea flavor profile.

Benefits of using flavored syrups

– Wide range of flavors available
– Easy to add sweetness and flavor with just drops
– Allows consistent flavor experience
– Pre-made so less work than brewing herbs

Downsides of using flavored syrups

– Can contain artificial flavors or added sugars
– Risk of overpowering green tea’s taste
– Less natural than fresh ingredient options

Coconut Sugar

If you want to sweeten your green tea with an actual sugar, coconut sugar is one of the best options. Made from the sap of the coconut palm, coconut sugar contains trace nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium not found in regular white sugar. It has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar as dramatically.

Coconut sugar has a caramel-like flavor that pairs nicely with green tea’s natural flavors. Use it sparingly, about 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon per cup, to lightly sweeten without overpowering. The small granules typically dissolve well when stirred into hot tea. Look for organic, non-GMO coconut sugar that hasn’t been over-processed.

Benefits of using coconut sugar

– Slightly lower glycemic index than regular sugar
– Provides small amounts of nutrients
– Caramel-like sweetness complements green tea

Downsides of using coconut sugar

– Still contains calories and carbs that impact blood sugar
– Coconut flavor may seem unusual in tea
– Not as natural as options like honey or maple syrup

Monk Fruit Sweetener

Monk fruit sweetener is another popular non-caloric sweetener option, made using the juice of monk fruit. After crushing the melon-like fruit grown in Asia, Mogrosides are extracted – natural compounds that provide a sweet taste 200-300 times sweeter than regular sugar. But with no calories or carbohydrates, monk fruit sweetener won’t affect your blood sugar.

Monk fruit sweetener typically comes granulated, allowing it to dissolve easily into beverages like tea. Start with just a small pinch and add more as needed. The sweetness can linger, so too much may overpower the tea. A little monk fruit sweetener goes a long way to lightly sweeten a cup of green tea.

Benefits of using monk fruit sweetener

– No impact on blood sugar or insulin
– Very potent – small amounts needed
– Won’t vastly change tea’s nutritional profile
– Works well dissolved directly into tea

Downsides of using monk fruit sweetener

– Can have mild aftertaste at high amounts
– Is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar so takes adjusting
– Effects from long-term, heavy use are unknown

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar, or agave syrup, is an all-natural liquid sweetener produced from the agave plant. After extraction from agave, the nectar is filtered and heated to break it down into its sugar components. The resulting agave nectar provides a subtly sweet flavor.

Compared to table sugar, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index of around 15, meaning it has less impact on blood sugar levels. It also contains small amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. For sweetening tea, use about 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of agave nectar per cup of green tea. It blends in smoothly to lightly enhance the tea’s sweetness.

Benefits of using agave nectar

– Lower glycemic impact than regular sugar
– Neutral flavor that won’t overpower tea
– Provides small amounts of beneficial nutrients
– Liquid form incorporates easily into tea

Downsides of using agave nectar

– Still contains calories like other sweeteners
– Can have slightly bitter aftertaste
– Production methods sometimes questioned


Blackstrap molasses provides another minimally refined, natural choice for adding sweetness to green tea. Molasses comes from refining sugarcane into table sugar. The syrup left over after multiple rounds of sugar extraction results in blackstrap molasses – the deepest, most concentrated type.

Blackstrap molasses contains higher levels of many nutrients than refined sugar, like calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium. It has a distinctive rich, robust flavor that can complement green tea’s grassy taste. Use just 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon per cup of tea, as the strong flavor can overwhelm. The dense syrup incorporates well when stirred in.

Benefits of using molasses

– Contains more nutrients than regular sugar
– Strong flavor balances out green tea’s bitterness
– Only small amounts needed to sweeten

Downsides of using molasses

– Still contains sugar calories and carbs
– Can easily overpower green tea flavor
– Some may not like the strong taste

Brown Rice Syrup

Brown rice syrup is a vegan-friendly sweetener made from boiling brown rice. Enzymes are added to convert the rice starches into sugars, resulting in a thick, sweet syrup. The sugar composition and glycemic index of brown rice syrup is similar to corn syrup. But it avoids the genetically engineered enzymes used in some corn syrups.

Compared to table sugar, brown rice syrup provides small amounts of nutrients like magnesium, potassium and zinc. The flavor is smooth, neutral and subtly sweet. Use about 1 teaspoon per cup of green tea. Stir it in well, as the syrup is thick and can sink to the bottom. The sweetness level is similar to honey or sugar.

Benefits of using brown rice syrup

– Vegan and gluten-free
– Provides some minerals like magnesium and zinc
– Mildly sweet flavor
– Smooth, syrup consistency

Downsides of using brown rice syrup

– Glycemic impact comparable to regular sugar
– Higher on glycemic index than alternatives like honey
– Can make tea overly thick if too much is added


Green tea can readily be enhanced with a touch of natural sweetness using ingredients like honey, fruit juices, spices or sweeteners like stevia or maple syrup. When choosing an addition, opt for minimally processed options that draw out, rather than overwhelm green tea’s fresh, delicate flavor.

The healthiest choices are natural options like dates, spices or unrefined sweeteners with nutrients like coconut sugar or molasses. But even small amounts of sweeteners like honey, syrups or sugar can provide a subtle sweetness boost. Just use a light hand, as the sweetness can accumulate quickly.

Experiment to find your favorite ingredients to lightly sweeten and customize your green tea. Adding sweet accents can help highlight green tea’s grassy, refreshing taste and may make it a more enjoyable part of your day.

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