By Dina Cheney
Tempted by the ultra-sweet flavored coffees and teas at your local coffee shop? Back away from the syrup dispenser. Instead, try these healthy hacks for getting your caffeinated treat without added sugars.
1. Bone up on beans. Look for synonyms for sweetness in the flavor descriptions on that bag of coffee. For instance, Intelligentsia’s El Gallo Organic Breakfast Blend tastes of “stone fruit, caramel, and nougat,” while its Frequency Blend is reminiscent of “chocolate and dried fruits.” In general, avoid very dark roasts. Such beans can taste burnt and bitter, tempting you to load up on sweetener or flavored creamers.
2. Try dessert teas. Seek out the naturally sweet but sweetener-free Vanilla Pear white tea from Tea Forte and Hot Cinnamon Spice black tea from Harney Teas. Other blends that don’t taste sweet per se, but feature dessert-like flavors (such as chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and fruit), include the Florence and Paris black teas from Harney, and the Guilt-Free Dessert Teas from The Republic of Tea (we love the Ginger Peach Chocolate Truffle). Try stirring some milk or cream into the latter varieties for richness.
3. Make your own sweet tisanes. Try infusing boiling water with sweet fresh spearmint leaves, fresh ginger root, cinnamon sticks, or organic dried flowers, such as rosebuds or chamomile. Let steep for about 10 minutes, then strain. Serve with a wedge of orange or lime.
4. Pair coffee and tea with fruit. In Japan, it is traditional to serve matcha with small sweets. Put a spin on this practice by snacking on fresh seasonal produce, such as raw apple or pear slices, or baked pumpkin or squash, while sipping your hot beverage of choice.
5. DIY flavored coffee and tea. Pre-brewing, add unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla bean powder, ground cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice to coffee grounds. Alternatively, stir extract, such as vanilla or almond, into your finished tea or coffee (e.g., try vanilla extract in a cup of matcha).
6. Switch up the milk. Seek out unsweetened vanilla-flavored plant milks, such as almond. Although plant milks tend to be much lower in sugar than cow’s milk, the vanilla tricks your brain into perceiving the overall flavor as sweet. Or, try plain coconut milk; it’s naturally sweet, and its fat content adds satisfying richness.