It might be a ritual for many but scientists say your cup of tea does not actually need a spoonful of sugar.
A study found participants were able to cut it out without their enjoyment being affected – suggesting a long-term change in behaviour was possible.
Scientists said quitting in one go or reducing intake gradually were both effective strategies to reduce consumption.
The authors said a bigger trial was needed to confirm their findings.
A team including researchers from University College London and the University of Leeds analysed data over one month for 64 men who usually drank tea sweetened with sugar.
Participants were split equally into men who quit in one drastic step, those who gradually reduced sugar in their tea over four weeks and a control group who continued to drink sweetened tea.
The results suggested that the groups who reduced sugar were still able to enjoy a cuppa without a spoonful of the sweet stuff.
At the end of the study, 42% of those in the gradual reduction group quit sugar in tea as did 36% of those who eliminated it in one go.
Six per cent of men in the control group also gave it up in their cuppa.
The team concluded: “Reducing sugar in tea doesn’t affect liking, suggesting long-term behaviour change is possible.”
The researchers added that similar methods could be used to reduce sugar intake in other drinks such as squash.
The findings were peer-reviewed by conference officials at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow.