Best Sweetener for Tea

Just a spot of sugar? One lump or two? Perhaps a drop of honey? If you love a little sweetness in your daily cuppa, check out this highlight reel of our favorite sweet add-ins for tea. Some classic, some natural, and some unexpected.

Just a spot of sugar? One lump or two? Perhaps a drop of honey? If you love a little (or a lot) of sweetness in your daily cuppa, check out this highlight reel of our favorite sweet add-ins for tea. Some classic, some natural, and some unexpected; read on to discover your very best sweetener for tea. 

Best Classic Sweetener

For Hot Tea:

It’s no surprise that the first sweetener on the list is sugar. It’s a classic for a reason. Do you need something sweeter? Add sugar. But there are subtleties you can play with…

Try brown sugar for a deeper flavor, coconut sugar for a little more earthiness, or rock sugar for a neutral sweetness that won’t change the flavor of your tea. 

You could also experiment with infused sugars for extra nuance! A scoop of lemon sugar here, a sprinkle of lavender sugar there…maybe a healthy dose of vanilla sugar in everything! Get creative and enjoy the sugar buzz… 

Plum Deluxe has a variety of delicious sugar dusts that will brighten any blend! Try honey, maple, or vanilla—or get them all and mix and match! 

For a fun twist, try a sugar rim. Rather than dissolving the sugar straight into your tea, wet the rim of your mug or tea cup and dip it in sugar. It’s fun, festive, and adds a nice bit of texture to each sip

For Iced Tea and Cocktails

If iced tea is more the mood, simple syrups are an awesome choice! The liquid sweetener blends easily into your drink without leaving any grainy residue. 

You can keep it simple with the traditional method—boiling equal parts sugar and water—or get fancy with flavored syrup! Fruity, herbaceous, citrus, or spice—let your imagination run wild. A dose of lemon syrup in your Earl Grey, a splash of apple cinnamon syrup in your Chai, a dash of rosemary syrup in your Kitchen Table blend—the world is your sweet, sweet oyster. 

Simple syrups are also the perfect way to sweeten your tea cocktails! Bourbon iced tea, anyone? Yes, please.

A cup of tea with a rim of sugar sits on a saucer surrounded by fresh blueberries.

Best Natural Sweetener

Nature has its own ways of sweetening our foods, no refined sugar necessary! For the best natural sweeteners, turn to honey and fruit

For rich, golden flavor, honey is the bee’s knees. More like the bee’s regurgitated goo, but hey, it’s delicious! It will alter the flavor of your tea, so maybe start with a little and adjust to taste. I find that a bit of honey is just the thing to enhance the flavors in chai. A small drizzle in a cup of Full Moon chai brings a whole new dimension that perfectly complements the flavors of the blend. 

If you’re looking for tasty honey products, Plum Deluxe has a line of honey-related add-ins, including drops, sticks, and raw creamed honey (available plan or with organic cinnamon). 

Depending on your tea blend, fruit can be a wonderful way to add flavor and sweetness to your brew. 

You can muddle fruit straight into your tea, or infuse it sangria-style. 

Berries are perfect for muddling because they are soft, juicy, and easily crushed. Citrus, stone fruit, tropical fruits, and berries are all great for infusions! 

Fruit can either play up the flavors already in your tea (a pineapple infusion in your Pineapple Pop herbal tea), or create an interesting twist (strawberry or mango in your jasmine tea).

For flavor inspirations, check out our many sangria recipes on the Plum Deluxe blog—just swap out the wine for a favorite tea, and you’re on your way to a perfectly sweetened tea, au natural! 

Other honorable mentions for best natural sweetener are maple syrup and molasses. It simply depends on the ingredients you have on hand and the flavor profile you’re going for. 

Maple syrup is a nice compliment to bold or creamy black teas (and a natural pairing for our Maple Scottish breakfast tea) Molasses is dark, earthy, and could be smoky or slightly caramelized, depending on what elements are enhanced. 

Whatever natural sweetener you reach for, you can enjoy every sip of your tea, just as if Mother Nature herself brewed it for you. 

Teacup with a colorful rim of sprinkles and an accompanying cookie.

Best Outside-the-Box Sweetener

And now we explore sweetness with a touch of whimsy. 

Anyone can put sugar in their tea. The true sugar artist might instead turn to…sprinkles. 

Let’s be honest—sprinkles are just sugar that has dressed up for a party. So turn every tea break into a tea party! 

Either stir the sprinkles into the tea and watch the colors dance, or—as suggested above—give your cuppa a sprinkled rim. You get the dose of sugar in each sip, plus a tiny crunch of texture, and bonus: it’s adorable! 

Keep the festive vibes rolling with a dollop of whipped cream. Who doesn’t like their drinks with a frothy, dreamy glob of velvety whipped cream? Love a sweet tea latte? Get the best of both worlds here. As the whipped cream melts into your tea, it essentially creates a decadent, delectable latte with just one ingredient—sugar and dairy in one simple step. Done and done. (And delicious!)  

If sweet and creamy is your thing, you can’t go wrong with coffee creamer. Who says it’s just for bean water? The flavors are intensely sweet and often go beautifully with strong black teas. (Since they are intended to make strong black coffee palatable.) 

Pumpkin spice, vanilla caramel, chocolate peppermint—yum! They do tend to pack a punch, so use sparingly if you don’t want to completely mask the actual flavor of your tea. But they will do all the sweetness heavy-lifting you crave in no time flat! A quick slug will transform your tea into a saccharine concoction that will seem as it if was brewed by a veritable sugar plum fairy. So slug away, and enjoy! 

Finally, try a creamy, airy daub of vanilla cold foam. It may essentially be whipped cream, but it comes together in a flash, and is sweetened with vanilla syrup rather than sugar and vanilla extract. If you tend to keep vanilla syrup on hand, you can whip up a batch (quite literally) in less time than it takes to boil the water for your tea. Easy peasy, whipped cream breezy. 

Cup of tea with a dollop of whipped cream on top, in the process of melting in.

Best Sweet Teas (No sweetener needed!) 

I can’t spend so much time talking about the best sweetener for tea without also mentioning teas that really are their own sweeteners. 

Plum Deluxe teas do not add sugar, but there are many blends in the collection that satisfy that sweet craving without any sugar needed

Sweet Spot Butterscotch black tea, with cocoa nibs, vanilla, and butterscotch essence is like a cup of liquid candy (without being cloying). 

Italian Wedding Cake dessert tea—with coconut pieces, cinnamon chips, and a medley of vanilla, pecan, walnut, and caramel essences—is so delicious that customers voted to change it from a limited edition tea to one that is available all year long! 

Caramel Snickerdoodle herbal tea was one of the teas that converted my heavily anti-tea, baked-good-loving sister into a tea drinker. It has all the flavor you crave from a Snickerdoodle, and with a splash of milk for body, you can convince even the staunchest of dessert lovers that maybe they’re just drinking a liquid cookie…

For sweet tea with body all its own, try Strawberry Truffle puerh. Fermented tea can be an acquired taste (with allegedly fabulous health benefits), and this is a great place to start! Those natural fruity flavors of strawberry and orange lead with sweetness, augmented by cocoa nibs, giving that hearty puerh base all the nuances of a chocolate truffle. 

What are your favorite dessert teas? If we’ve inspired you to try a new sweetener (or an adorable sugar rim), snap a picture and share it with us on social media @plumdeluxe 

Cheers, sweetie! 

A sugar-rimmed cup of tea with a matching teapot.


Erica Jolly

Erica Jolly is a born and raised Pacific North Westerner. Rainwater flows through her veins. She is a tea drinker by day, wine drinker by night, and lover of food, yoga, and rambling conversations.
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