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What Are You Really Adding to Your Tea?

Tea offers fantastic flexibility: there are thousands of different types and tasty blends possible that can be customized in so many different ways. With a flavorful, high-quality tea blend, there’s usually little need to add anything to your drink so you can delight in the true taste of each flavor note — but it’s common for tea drinkers to add an extra element to their favorite beverage.

(And that’s another cool thing about tea: while coffee usually lends itself to only cream and sugar, tea has a huge variety of potential add-ons.)

Some of those extras, however, aren’t as good as you think. We’ll list a few of the most common tea add-ons and what they contain that you should know about:


Sugar is one of the most common things people add to their tea. While it might make your tea taste sweeter and more enjoyable, too much isn’t very good for your health. Sugar is high in fructose and some studies suggest a variety of negative effects associated with sugar consumption.

Also, keep in mind that one teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories and 4.2g of carbohydrates. Thus, a pinch isn’t a big deal, but avoid putting several teaspoons in your tea, especially if you’re counting your carbs.


Honey has been around for ages and many people like to add it to their tea for a natural way to sweeten it (since honey already has a great flavor by itself).

But honey actually has more calories than sugar and about 40% of it is fructose. One cup of honey contains 278 grams of sugar and has 279 grams of carbohydrates. (Sure, you probably won’t put an entire cup of honey in your tea, but it does give you an idea of what’s in it.) Honey, however, does offer a few antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals — just make sure to use it sparingly and use less of it than sugar.

Vanilla Extract

Although not as common as sugar or honey, some people add vanilla extract to their tea for extra flavor. One teaspoon has 12 calories and 0.5 grams of sugar, which isn’t bad if you only use a moderate amount. Natural vanilla extract also includes numerous antioxidants like vanillic acid and vanillin that could defend your body from free radicals and toxins.

If you like vanilla, try a tea blend that naturally includes it like our delightful Vanilla Berry Truffle tea, which infuses sweet and tangy flavors with the smoothness of fresh cream for a perfect dessert drink.


Milk is another popular add-on for tea that gives your drink a creamy, velvety texture. (It’s also a staple of traditional tea drinking in places like the United Kingdom.) When it comes to nutrition facts, two tablespoons of whole milk contains about 19 calories, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of carbs, and 1 gram of protein.

Milk also comes with a variety of benefits including healthy fats, calcium, and fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Just don’t put too much (which could also overpower the flavors of your tea) and you’ll be fine.


Adding a few drops of lemon is a popular way to include more tart and citrusy notes into your tea. And of potential add-ons, they’re also the healthiest choice: one entire lemon contains 17 calories, 5 grams of carbs, and 1.5 grams of sugar (and one wedge is only about an eighth of the entire fruit.)

Lemons also include a lot of vitamin C, health-packed polyphenols, and limonoids, which some studies suggest could have anti-cancer properties.

If you love a lemony finish to your drink, try a tea blend that contains a perfect balance citrus flavors like our organic Meyer Lemon, which won the “Best Blended Green Iced Tea” at the World Tea Expo.

Keep these tips in mind the next time you reach for your favorite add-on. You can also try exploring more teas to find the RIGHT one that naturally gives you the flavor you’re looking for.

For cool suggestions, check out our easy-to-use Tea Quiz: with just a few quick questions about your lifestyle and your tea drinking preferences, you’ll find teas that match your palate sans add-ons.

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Want to learn more about tea? Check out our guide on all things tea here.