Tea Noob: Sweetener vs No Sweetener

For general/other topics related to tea.

Apr 11th 17 12:33 pm
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Joined: Apr 11th 17 12:07 pm

Tea Noob: Sweetener vs No Sweetener

by TeaHeadFamily » Apr 11th 17 12:33 pm

Background: My husband and I have been drinking via tea bags (I know, blasphemy) for many years. When my husband and I met, he knew I enjoyed tea and so the first year we were dating, about 5 years ago, he bought me a tea pot from Teavana and we started also doing loose leaf tea which we enjoy a lot but don't know a lot about.

About a week ago my husband's coworker gave him a cup of some Irish Breakfast Tea from Adagio that was brewed from a tea bag and he really loved the flavor. We had never heard of Adagio so we went onto their website and purchased some equipment and more loose leaf tea. Our shipment will be arriving this Friday and we are excited to try it.

In the meantime we had decided to put together some loose leaf tea blends of our own for my mom for mother's day and were going to use tea bags so we started looking into how to make our own and in the process came across Don Mei's videos on YouTube from China Life/Mei Tea and have been watching all of his anti tea bag videos but also all his videos on Gong Fu style brewing and watching him drink tea.

I have not seen him put any sort of sweetener in his tea. Is sweetener not something that should be used? Is it only authentic tea if we don't use it? If we do use it, what kind should be used? I know when we had originally purchased tea from Teavana we had purchased German Rock Sugar but I also try to avoid real sugar. That being said, if I am going to use sweetener should it be real and not artificial? What is the problem with using any sort of sweetener?

Thank you!

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Apr 11th 17 1:14 pm
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Re: Tea Noob: Sweetener vs No Sweetener

by chingwa » Apr 11th 17 1:14 pm

Using sweetener is a cultural thing. Go to japan and get a good sencha at a teahouse, then ask them where the sugar is :lol: Conversely, try telling an Englishman that the best way to enjoy tea is without any milk or sugar. :shock:

Ultimately though, adding sugar is really up to you and the way you want to enjoy your tea, so before I give any other advice I just wanted to say use your own judgement on what tastes best to you and don't listen to anyone else.

[Warning, Opinion starts here]
Now, honestly, there's no reason at all to be dumping any kind of sweetener into Japanese style tea or Chinese style tea. It's really akin to sacrilege, imho. For these types of fine teas you are destroying the flavor of the tea and completely missing the point by adding sugar. This is mostly what I drink so that is where my advice lies.

However, there are exceptions to everything, as I have been known to add a little sugar to my Chinese chrysanthemum tea, on occasion, as that's the way I'm used to having it at DimSum restaurants. I also cannot drink Indian Chai without a good dump of sugar as well, and I've certainly had my fair share of sugary Japanese "Matcha Lattes". So there are no rules here.

If you're going to add sugar, it's up to you what type. I would just use normal white sugar to be honest. Rock sugar sounds nice as long as it's going to dissolve nicely in the tea. In my mind sugar is sugar, and the form does not really matter.

Apr 11th 17 1:28 pm
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Joined: Apr 11th 17 12:07 pm

Re: Tea Noob: Sweetener vs No Sweetener

by TeaHeadFamily » Apr 11th 17 1:28 pm

Thank you so very much. My gut told me it is just preference but I really wasn't sure what the "correct" way was if there is any such thing. I know on a rare occasion that I did have a good Chinese tea, I did not need it but when I have grown up with tea bags and before I knew how to brew properly I had some bitter issues and wanted it.

Thank you very much for the info on the Chinese/Japanese teas. I cannot wait to get more knowledgeable!

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Apr 11th 17 2:38 pm
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Re: Tea Noob: Sweetener vs No Sweetener

by Psyck » Apr 11th 17 2:38 pm

I use a sweetener (honey) for certain black teas and for iced teas. Sometimes acacia honey as it has a milder effect on the taste compared to regular honey. However, practically all decent loose leaf teas taste perfectly fine without any sweetener or other additive.