I have a MAJOR sweet tooth. Because of my sweet tooth, I’ll some times order dessert first before dinner (just to make sure that I get my fix before getting too full).

I’ve went on a refined sugar detox a couple of months ago and struggled with it for the first two weeks. Since sugar has addictive qualities, I found myself craving it and went into periods of having terrible mood swings (poor Jaz). There were definitely some difficulties I faced in the past, the main one being: most matcha desserts and drinks that I photograph and consume for | @matcha.sf | contain refined sugar.

After the initial two weeks of being on the refined sugar detox, I got the hang of it and didn’t crave sugar like I used to, a part of me was repulsed by the idea of consuming anything too sweet. I was so committed to my sugar detox that when Jaz and I were in Los Angeles for a Saints of Steel pop up, I had the self-control and will power to avoid all of my favorite matcha dessert stops — if you know me, you know how difficult that is.

I decided that I’ll be kicking refined sugar to the curb for the month of February ✌🏽 So here I am a week into being refined sugar-free and I’m feeling amazing! I just passed the “crabby mood swing” phase (it was REEEEAL scary... poor Jaz again) and I’m not craving any desserts at this point. Omitting refined sugar from my diet has also inspired me to make healthier choices. Despite the fact that I’m a “Foodie” (and technically eat for a living), I believe that you can be a Foodie and still be healthy.



  1. Kicking refined sugar opens up the possibility of exploring healthier sweetener options. My favorite sugar alternatives are raw honey and coconut palm sugar.
  2. You’ll notice a boost in energy. Sugar tends to leave you feeling lethargic (not cool when you hustling).
  3. Improved self-confidence. Reducing or eliminating your sugar intake aids in losing or maintaining your weight (excess sugar converts into body fat). It also does wonders for your skin. If you’re like me and struggle with acne, you’ll notice that your skin will start to clear up. Sugar is an inflammatory additive that can inflame acne-prone skin and be the culprit of those pesky breakouts. 
  4. Less crabby mood swings and less cravings. I mentioned above that initially I experienced terrible mood swings when I first started to kick sugar. It’s inevitable that you’ll go through a withdrawal period which is accompanied by feeling moody AF. Don’t worry, it’ll pass and you’ll reach a state of mental equilibrium. I highly recommend letting your loved ones (especially your bae) know that you’re most likely going to be feeling some type of way, give them some time to prepare and brace themselves for your wrath.



Refined sugar is hidden under the guise of other names. I recommend reading the labels of foods that may contain sugar or if you’re visiting a matcha spot, don’t be afraid to ask businesses for clarification if matcha desserts and drinks are sweetened with sugar or if there are refined sugar-free options available.

Be on the look out for sugar’s althernative names: Anhydrous dextrose, Agave, Brown sugar (light and dark brown), Cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane sugar, Cane syrup, Carob syrup, Caster sugar, Confectioners’ sugar, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Crystalline fructose, Date sugar, Demerara sugar, Dextran, Dextrose, Dehydrated cane juice, Evaporated cane juice, Evaporated cane syrup, Evaporated sugar cane, Fructose, Fructose crystals, Fruit juice crystals, Fruit juice concentrate, Glazing sugar, Glucose, Glucose syrup, Golden sugar, Golden syrup, Granulated sugar, High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Invert syrup, King’s syrup, Lactose, Maple syrup, Maple sugar, Maltose, Malt sugar, Malt syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Nectar, Panocha, Powdered sugar, Raw sugar, Refiners’ syrup, Sorghum, Sorghum syrup, Sucanat, Sucrose, Table sugar, Treacle, Turbinado sugar, White sugar, Yellow sugar.




You can still get your matcha fix and stay on track! Here are some of my favorite places to frequent in San Francisco when I’m refraining from consuming refined sugar. 

1. Boba Guys

ADDRESS: 8 Octavia St, Ste 308, San Francisco, CA 94102 (they have multiple locations in the Bay Area) 


Boba Guys’ Iced Matcha Latte can be made unsweetened or lightly sweetened with honey. Feel free to add chia seeds (only available at select locations) to your drink, it’s the only topping option that does not contain added sugar.

Feel free to ask your Bobarista about other refined sugar-free options outside of the Matcha Latte.

Unfortunately, the matcha soft serve (only available at their Fillmore location) contains cane sugar. 


2. Samovar Tea

ADDRESS: 411 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103


All of their matcha drinks can be made unsweetened or lightly sweetened with honey. My favorite drink to order here is the Cold Brewed Matcha (which comes in a mason jar you can keep).  Unfortately, their matcha mochi bites contain sugar. 


3. Asha Tea House

ADDRESS: 17 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA 94108 (they also have a location in Berkeley)


Asha has a dedicated matcha menu! All of their matcha drinks can be made unsweetened. My usual is their Matcha Fresco with kiwi purée, but when I’m on a refined sugar detox, I’ll order the Matcha Fresco without the purée. Note: all of their fruit purées contain cane sugar to preserve their shelf life and color.


4. Home Cafe

ADDRESS: 1222 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122 (they also have a location in the Inner Richmond)


All of Home’s matcha drinks can be made unsweetened or lightly sweetened with honey. By default, their matcha hot or iced lattes are sweetened with brown sugar, but their baristas always ask how sweet you’d like your matcha drinks. I usually order the Godzilla (lightly sweetened with honey) or their Fresh Young Coconut with an additional shot of matcha to pour in. Unfortunately, their Matcha Love Toast cannot be made unsweetened, it’s made with matcha condensed milk which contains cane sugar.


5. Jane on Fillmore

 ADDRESS: 2123 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115


Jane uses Panatēa matcha — one of my favorite brands of matcha. Their hot or iced matcha can be made unsweetened or lightly sweetened with honey. 


6. Steep

ADDRESS: 270 Brannan St, Ste 100, San Francisco, CA 94107

 Don’t mind my “concentrated foodie” face. 

Don’t mind my “concentrated foodie” face. 

Some of Steep’s matcha drinks can be made unsweetened, like their Pure Matcha or Matcha Latte. I love ordering their Matcha Bowl which is an awesome post-workout snack (just be sure to ask the cashier to omit any added sugar and the organic hempseed granola).


7. Andytown Coffee

ADDRESS: 3629 Taraval, San Francisco, CA 94116 (multiple locations in San Francisco)


I love their Matcha Snowy Plover! It can be made unsweetened (be sure to let your barista know because they usually don’t ask about how sweet you’d prefer your drink while ordering) but unfortunately that beautiful dollop of their infamous whipped cream contains sugar. If you’re wanting something warm or hot, their Matcha Latte can be made unsweetened or lightly sweetened with honey.


8. Juice Shop

ADDRESS: 432 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102


Get the Matcha Ashitaba! It’s a delicious and clean shot of matcha, coconut water, and ashitaba (which has amazing health benefits). One shot and you’re good to go!


9. Cafe Réveille 

ADDRESS: 432 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102


Their hot or iced matcha lattes can be made unsweetened. 


10. Snowbird Coffee

ADDRESS: 1352 A 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122


Alright... you get it at this point. Snowbird also has dope matcha and can be made unsweetened. 



All the matcha spots I listed above are places that I typically frequent in San Francisco. Being the matcha purist that I am, I appreciate when businesses use matcha powder that isn’t cut with a bunch of crap (powered milk and/or sugar), these matcha finds all use pure matcha powder and have clean options if you’re looking to kick refined sugar to the curb. Most milk tea spots in the Bay Area use matcha powder that also contains powdered milk and sugar already blended into their matcha. If I visit a new spot, I usually ask to see their matcha powder and will immediately know by the color of the matcha if it’s cut with other crap (matcha cut with crap is usually a pale green color) — if you ask to see their matcha, you may get confused or dirty looks from some baristas.



Unfortunately, most (if not all) matcha desserts I feature on Matcha SF are made with refined cane sugar. I’m currently not aware of any matcha desserts (aside from matcha drinks) that are made with refined sugar alternatives. If you are aware of some options, feel free to drop us a line below. 



One of the best ways to get your matcha fix while limiting or eliminating your refined sugar intake is to make your own matcha at home. Bust out your matcha set and get whisking! 



Feel free to leave a comment below if there’s a spot you know of that also has refined sugar-free options. It may not be on my radar and I would love to stop by to explore new spots.  

I’m also working on sharing my favorite refined sugar-free matcha recipes. Be on the lookout for them soon! 


Xo,  Jules


All photos taken by Jules Reyes