What ingredient in this tea makes it taste sweet? Cinnamon? Cloves? Nutmeg?

Bengal Spice tea made by Celestial Seasonings tastes sweet when brewed without a sweetener.  It's so sweet you could convince a taster that a fair amount of sweetener was already added to their cup.  The listed ingredients are:  cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg.  The box lists 0 calories and 0 grams of carbohydrate indicating no sugar.  Further, since the second infusion also tastes sweet, I doubt they "neglected" to list an ingredient such as sugar or stevia, which would tend to fully dissolve in the first infusion. 

What ingredient is making the tea taste sweet?  Why isn't that ingredient used to sweeten other drinks?

Picture of What ingredient in this tea makes it taste sweet?  Cinnamon?  Cloves?  Nutmeg?
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The ingredients that make it taste sweet:  cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg.

Pretty much every ingredient is "sweet", and foods with those sorts of ingredients don't need as much sugar.  Gingerbread cookies can get away with far less sweetener than blander cookies.  I think the Starbucks Chai Latte is far too sweet, and when I make my own at home, I use far less sweetener than they do - like a tsp of splenda for 16 oz.  If I were to make a latte, I would use 2 tbsp of splenda for 16 oz.  This is probably why dietitians encourage people to use lots of herbs and spices in their food - foods with lots of flavor don't need as much fat and sugar to taste nice.
+1, blessed be, and pass the Chamomile
zeddead7 months ago

Not sure if this is true or not, but apparently they use Xylitol


I'm guessing one of the "natural flavours" might be licorice, that is what the sweetness reminds me of

Canadient1 year ago

"Natural flavors" is what makes the tea taste sweet. Aspartame is one ingredient that is often listed under the blanket of "natural flavors".

Eshusan2 years ago

I've become quite concerned about this. At our meditation centre, we've been drinking this blend for years. When I recently looked at a box, I noticed this "natural flavours" which never used to be there. I also remember that the old ingredient list included licorice root, which was a big source of the sweet. This obscuration of the actual ingredients makes me unhappy, and we will likely discontinue drinking this tea.

teakayache3 years ago

That all sounds quite interesting. I just love the tea.

The clue is in the order of the ingredients. By law all food labels show the ingredients in order of amount used. As you can see, the first ingredient on the list is cinnamon so this is the most abundant ingredient and is what is making the tea taste sweet. Cinnamon has been used for centuries to make things sweet, and is a major ingredient in diabetic friendly 'sweet' foods because of its ability to make the tastebuds believe that there is sugar in what you are eating. The other flavour that helps is cardamon. This also has been used for centuries in India and surrounding areas as a flavour for sweet foods.

Bengal Spice tastes sweeter than the sum of its parts, but the truth is we aren't being shown all of its constituents. If there were stevia in this product it would just be listed, as its a plant like most other plants on the label. What's concealed in the ingredients is hiding under the deceptive descriptor "natural flavors." Logical thinking would bring you to the assumption that Natural flavors would be a flavor derived from a natural food product. In reality they're vague corporate buzz words for compounds created in a lab to resemble a natural chemical. (its cheaper and easier that way) In the list of things the FDA approves to be lumped under natural flavors: imitation sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. That's why there are no calories or carbs, and artificial sweeteners mimic natural chemicals,(hence a 'natural' flavor) Like how splenda is chemically similar to sugar, and yet our bodies can't digest this science experiment. Don't consume Celestial Seasoning's lies! Tea should be wholesome, grow it yourself or consider switching to a brand not prone to such treacherous word play.
Sorry but you are wrong. I actually emailed the company and they assured me there are no sweeteners in this tea, and I quote "Cinnamon, roasted chicory, and roasted carob all lend a sweetness to the flavor of the Bengal Spice"

Maybe you should check your facts before commenting next time :)
Although its nice you took the time to email the company, possibly to ease your mind about what your drinking. You're still not really informed about whats in this tea. The fact remains that anything listed as flavors is a big mystery. Your 'know it all' tone seems to indicate that you believe everything your told by this product's labeling and the company that produced it. The fact is that Celestial Seasonings told you exactly what they wanted you to know. If something can fall under the deceptive labeling of natural flavors, it's not legally called a sweetener. For instance 'natural vanilla flavor' which is in the ingredients, need not be derived from vanilla. In fact it almost certainly isn't since if it were real vanilla it would say 'vanilla' not 'vanilla flavors'. What it very likely is: Castoreum, a yellowish secretion exuded with urine from the rear end of a beaver to mark its territory. Castoreum is frequently labeled as natural vanilla flavors. http://foodidentitytheft.com/%E2%80%9Cnatural%E2%80%9D-can-run-the-gamut-from-bugs-to-beaver-butts/ And this is not even the most objectionable ingredient that could fall under the descriptor of 'flavors'. If Celestial Seasonings told you exactly what all of the specific constituents of the natural flavors were, then maybe you'd have a point to argue, but let me guess, they didn't, and they wont. I find it funny that your idea of getting to the bottom of this matter meant emailing the company that intentionally deceived us all in the first place. Maybe you should question your sources, and use a more respectful tone in the future.
How do you know all this? Do you have facts? Or are you just guessing? You may think you've one upped me with your belittling tone, but guess what...

I don't care. The company answered my question.

The only point I'm trying to make is that I don't know exactly whats in the ingredients, and neither do you. Because not all the ingredients are listed. You can believe and drink whatever you want. But I know enough about nutrition labels to know when the wool is being pulled over our eyes. Especially in such a suspiciously sweet product. You shouldn't have come right out and said I was wrong, when you really didn't have a clue. My guess is that your defending it so vehemently because your probably addicted to one of the unlabeled additives. All of these things really exist, do your homework. Its ignorant to just blindly trust whats wrapped in a colorful package and delivered to your store shelf, because big companies like this care about the bottom line, not your health and safety.

I agree that "natural flavors" are a bit deceptive, but here the explanation is simpler. Chicory root is 20% inulin by weight, which is an indigestible sugar with approximately 35% the sweetness of sugar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inulin


My packets of BS tea bought just the other day have a sticker over the original "nutrition facts", stating that in fact 100ml of tea contains "less than 40kj", and "less than 1g" of each of protein, fat and carbohydrate. Since 1mg vs 99mg of each of these is an enormous variation, the information provided is meaningless. I think the best truth is that celestial seasonings has no idea what the chemical constitution of their tea is so they have created a kind of "disclaimer" label. Obviously there is not 0mg of sugar in this supersweet tea. Doesn't matter whether the sugar is fructose, glucose, dextrose or lactose, it's all sugar and should be honestly listed on the package. The labelling in fact is probably illegal in Australia and I plan to inform Consumer Affairs about it.

Tonester7 years ago
According to Evitamins website:

Your answer on why Celestial Seasonings "Bengal Spice Tea" being a little on the sweet side is a hint of vanilla that adds a bit of sweetness taste.

Ingredients: Cinnamon, Roasted Chicory Root, Roasted Carob, Natural Spice and Vanilla Flavors with other Natural Flavors, Dates, Ginger Root, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Cloves, and Nutmeg.

The answer is found at:

By: Tonester of DeluxeMini-Sports (http://www.deluxemini-sports.com/)
I can't get my whipped cream to taste as 'sweet' with a "spoonful of vanilla" compared to the excessive sweetness of CS "Bengal Spice" tea bag!! No the sweetness has another more prominent source of sweetness than a "hint" of vanilla....
tincanz6 years ago
All of the plant-based ingredients have natural complex sugars, and the hot water causes them to break down slightly. The broken down form of a complex sugar is a simple sugar, one that tastes sweet. To prove or disprove, try some of that tea with cold water, see if it is sweet still.

It is also possible that some of the "Other natural flavors" are slightly sweet.
DING -idea......They would have to be boiled for a long period to break down sufficiently to release their sugars. (Not just by brewing in cup for 5 mins) This is partly how High Fructose Corn Syrup is produced. The cinnamon may have undergone such a process before being added to the tea mix and still maybe classed as natural cinnamon when in fact it is pre-processed to release it sugars first? Excess fructose is linked to metabolic syndrome including type 2 diabetes.....
jewels555 years ago
I thought it was exceptionally, perhaps overly, sweet. But i have been making my own spice tea with 2 broken quills of cinnamon and 5-10 cloves and grated apple or pear and tsp green tea left to infuse all day. First cups are sweetish from the fruit BUT later additions of water show that the sweetness intensifies from the (now more available) cinnamon alone. I have no doubt that the other flavours stated on Bengal spice contribute, too but it is the taste of the sweetness from cinnamon that predominates and is the source,( in my opinion). What i would like to know is whether cinnamon's sweetness is from from fructose or another sugar such as the sweetness from stevia which is not fructose derived. The sweetness is NOT from glucose as glucose is not particularly sweet compared to other sugars.
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TheStott6 years ago
most likely the ginger
d1ndian6 years ago
The very name tells that it's an Indian green tea. Originally the green leaves used to make this tea is grown in Darjling, India and at a few more places near. It's famously known as Indian green tea or Darjling tea.

Here's a quote from the official website - celestialseasonings.com "This adventurous blend is our caffeine-free interpretation of Chai, a piquant Indian brew traditionally made with black tea."

Chai - made of milk sugar tea specially made tea leaves/ powder.

Also all plants have glucose in them, this is exactly what plants produce to fee upon (plants make their own food). Glucose is naturally sweet and for humans it works like medical Redbull or an energy drink since it directly dissolves in your blood and makes you feel energetic.
Foxx40506 years ago
The roasted carob. Also you can't tell what the "other natural flavors" are so it could be that too.
amelaboy6 years ago
They all work together to make it sweet
jrg3ni0us6 years ago
All of the above. But it's not too cheap, so others just use sugar
Alex Dee6 years ago
ginger cardamom that is what probably make it sweet
yeah. sugar.
haha sugar
teeval6 years ago
I reckon its the mix of vanilla flavouring and cinnamon. Both taste sweet on their own and cinnamon added to things, such a stewed fruit, reduces the amount of sugar needed :-D
Dr.crazy6 years ago
probably a spice uve never heard of grans of paradice
thepelton7 years ago
Carob is naturally sweet. Cardamom enhances the flavor of chocolate and carob.
It's the Roasted Carob, at least according to this guy (and a few others here that mention it).

"If you don't know what carob is, it's a dark-brown pod that is native to the Mediterranean. It has a nice-chocolate-y taste is often used as a chocolate substitute. It has calcium, phosphorus and potassium. It has been purportedly used to help people survive during wars. And what's great is, it's naturally sweet! Which explains why the tea possesses a mild sweetness without any sugar."
KNEXTeam7 years ago
Natural Flavors, The tasting made by nature.
"Other natural flavors"
"Other natural flavors" are definitely weird and slightly suspicious. Basically, if a particular chemical can be found and extracted from a natural (usually plant) source, or synthesized to match the chemical(s) in that source, it can be called a "natural flavor" The New Yorker recently had a great article about it.
Arano aeray7 years ago
hmm natural flavirs... strawberry flavor is in most cases extracted from the bark of some trees hehe
bloglinks7 years ago
it sweet...
ur mahmas jizz
i think sugar n Cinnamon make it tastes beter...(spoon lickin good)
satcchi.087 years ago
the cinnamon makes it sweet...
maddman7 years ago
not only the carob, but also cinnamon also tends to be a bit sweet in it's natural form, not too sweet though ,as it's sweetness is usually masked by the firy cinnamon taste. but in the form of cinnamon sticks it is a bit sweet.
acidbass7 years ago
vanilla when roasted with the carob carmelizes and makes a sweet taste
NachoMahma7 years ago
. roasted carob
Roasting would caramelize some of the starches...
Yep, that is what I posted on FB and that the cinnamon would help enhance the sweetness
aeray7 years ago
I knew that chicory is sweet-tasting but I didn't know why, until now.
Chicory contains a high level of inulin, which is used as a sweetener. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicory
aeray aeray7 years ago
It's the chicory, folks:
"the root contains up to 20% inulin" "It is used as a sweetener in the food industry with a sweetening power 1⁄10 that of sucrose"
lemonie7 years ago

I wonder what more accurate %s are?
0.49% rounds to 0%, which gives you up to 9.8mg of each. Not sugar, must be very-sweet.
I guess the analysis is of the liquid @ 8floz (they don't expect you to eat the tea bag)
I guess Stevia too


Interesting thing I found
rimar20007 years ago
Are you sure you washed the cup before pouring the tea? ;)
Maybe that's why my iced tea tastes like Gentleman Jack!
PKM7 years ago
My money's on chicory, carob and possibly vanilla.
I've seen Stevia often used in teas as a natural sweetener. They usually list it in the ingredients though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stevia
Ninzerbean7 years ago
According to the FDA sugar is a "natural" flavoring, where as honey is not. That says a lot about Big Sugar (as they are known as in FL) and it's successful lobbying. I would guess that sugar is indeed in that tea, why there are no calories listed is probably a loop hole they found in the "natural" area.
jrossetti7 years ago
I'd suspect it's the combination of them. I have that same tea and just made a cup, it isn't that sweet... But I do have a cold and can't smell, so maybe the sweetness is from the scent, possibly?
Jayefuu7 years ago
Other natural flavoUrs maybe? Either way, they have an amazing address.
orksecurity7 years ago
I would guess that the vanilla, carob, and perhaps cardamom also add some sweet notes.

Simplest way to check would be to get some of those ingredients and try your own mixtures.