For some of us… okay, who’re we kidding? For most of us the only thing dragging us out of bed every morning is the promise of a piping hot cup of caffeinated goodness. Sure chai is the healthier (kind of alternative) to coffee, but even with chai we totally understand if you feel even the tiniest bit of guilt as you reach for a spoonful or two of sugar to go with it. To rid you of that daily guilt trip, we’ve put together a list of sweetener alternatives to enhance the delicious flavour of the best part of your morning routine.
At Chaiwala, honey is blended with tea and spices to create our wet sticky chai but adding some in fresh is a wonderful way to sweeten a freshly brewed pot too. We’re huge honey fans because it adds a natural sweetness and has a list of health benefits. It’s a probiotic and is the cheaper, safer and more widely available remedy for colds and other flu-like illnesses. So the next time you get the flu, consider some honey-enforced chai to speeden up the effect of those meds.
Another lovely thing about honey is the different varieties you can get as the seasons go by. Wildflower honey, blueberry honey, clover honey, the list is endless and the joy is testing them out to find the flavour profile that works for your daily cuppa!
2. Agave nectar
The name might ring a bell for all you tequila connoisseurs, but the Agave plant is more than just a friend of our favorite cocktails. Agave is a natural liquid sweetener derived from the Mexican plant and it's deep molasses-y flavour is just perfect in a strong iced Chaiwala latte. If you’re buying some at your local supermarket, check the labels. If it's syrup, you’re more likely to end up with a product that's refined and stripped of all the healthy properties of the Agave plant. The nectar on the other hand is unprocessed, so you can count on it being a lot healthier than regular white sugar.
If you’re South Asian you probably grew up eating this raw cane sugar in all kinds of desserts, or maybe you remember it being called by its other names like gur, vellam etc. If you’re not South Asian, Jaggery is the unrefined sister of brown sugar. It's crumbly, intensely sweet and tastes like caramel that's on the brink of being burnt. Not to mention all the health benefits, it keeps your body cool, is good for gut health etc. It’s time for the rest of the world to wake up to the magic of jaggery, and putting it in your chai is a great first step!
4. Blackstrap Molasses
This byproduct of boiling the hell out of sugar cane juice can look intimidating with its tar-like consistency but it packs a real punch. It’s slightly malty and might weirdly remind you of marmite but it's so good with the bold flavours of a black tea like our wet sticky Assam blend.
With something as intense as this, less is always more!
5. Coconut milk
This is for all of you looking for an addition that's all flavour and minimal sweetness!
Now this might seem strange but coconut milk is slightly sweet and rich, adding a nutty flavour that's really interesting paired with chai. It’s a great alternative for sugar and dairy!
This might seem like a natural choice for all of you that are totally in love with plant-based dairy products, and a great first step for those looking to dip their toes in the vegan lifestyle.
That’s our list folks! But natural sweeteners are ancient, and a lot of them come from the healthy secrets we inherit from our grandmothers. So If we missed any, comment below and share your choice of sweetener with us. We’d love to try some of it with our Chaiwala Chai!