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

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?


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.


26 days ago

I called Celestial Seasonings. The 'natural flavor' added is cinnamon oil and the 'natural spice' is tumeric. They don't add stevia, honey or any other sweeteners. Hurry! (June 26, 2018)

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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....

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.....

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.

most likely the ginger

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.

The roasted carob. Also you can't tell what the "other natural flavors" are so it could be that too.

They all work together to make it sweet

All of the above. But it's not too cheap, so others just use sugar

ginger cardamom that is what probably make it sweet


7 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

probably a spice uve never heard of grans of paradice

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."

Natural Flavors, The tasting made by nature.

"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.

hmm natural flavirs... strawberry flavor is in most cases extracted from the bark of some trees hehe

it sweet...

i think sugar n Cinnamon make it tastes beter...(spoon lickin good)

the cinnamon makes it sweet...

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.

vanilla when roasted with the carob carmelizes and makes a sweet taste

. roasted carob

Yep, that is what I posted on FB and that the cinnamon would help enhance the sweetness


7 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

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"

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

Are you sure you washed the cup before pouring the tea? ;)

Maybe that's why my iced tea tastes like Gentleman Jack!


7 years ago

My money's on chicory, carob and possibly vanilla.