Some of the world's most popular and most widely consumed teas are flavored teas. Adding flavors to tea is centuries old and is a wonderful way to add a new dimension to a favorite variety of tea. With the many combinations of tea varieties and flavorings, nearly any taste is possible. Flavored teas have become as much a part of the world's tea drinking traditions as the teas that are used to create them.
Flavored teas are different from herb teas, also known as tisanes. Herb teas, or tisanes are not actually teas at all. True teas all come from the camellia sinensis plant. Flavored teas simply have additional flavorings, such as fruits, flowers, herbs or spices added to them for additional flavor. Herbal teas are actually a brew made from the herbs themselves.
For example, chamomile tea is very popular. Chamomile dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was used for medicinal purposes. Today, chamomile herbal tea is used for relaxation and to help get a good night's sleep. It is also known to help with upset stomachs. However, it contains no actual tea.
Flavored teas can be made from any variety of tea: white, black, green or oolong. Some tea varieties have flavors that are most often blended with them, creating some very common flavored teas according to tea variety.
Black Teas - There are hundreds of varieties of flavored black teas. Because black tea is the most popular drink in the Western world, at some point it has been combined with nearly every flavor imaginable. One of the most popular is Earl Grey tea, which is so common that most of us don't even think of it as a flavored tea anymore. However, it is the addition of oil of bergamot (an especially flavorful orange) that gives Earl Grey its unmistakable taste.
Many fruit flavors besides orange combine well with black tea. Honey is often used in combination with fruits like pear or apple to give black tea a warming and sweet flavor. Equally popular with black tea are floral flavors and fragrances, like roses, lavender and orchids.
Finally, nearly any spice works well with black tea, especially when combined with fruit flavors. Cinnamon and plums are a great combination as are peaches and ginger. Any fruit and spice combination that pair well for foods also pair well in tea.
Green teas - Green teas are milder and mellower in flavor, allowing the added flavorings to stand out more. Green tea blends well with single fruit flavors like apricot, lemon and mango and with spices like mint. One of the most popular green teas is Moroccan mint which pairs Japanese green tea with fresh and dried mint leaves. Perhaps the most famous of all flavored green teas, however, pairs green tea with a floral - jasmine blossoms - to create one of the most popular and fragrant teas you can drink.
Oolong teas - Oolong teas have complex flavors and often have a bit of fruitiness to their flavor even before anything is added. So, pairing them with fruit flavors is a natural match. Oolong's natural flavor can handle stronger flavored fruits. Pomegranate pairs well with oolong tea as does peach, which enhances the naturally peachy flavor of oolong tea. Orchid oolong is another favorite and almond pairs well with many oolongs that have a bit of a nutty flavor.
White Teas- Flavored white teas are a bit harder to find than other flavored teas. However, white tea's mild and sweet flavor makes it a natural for pairing with fruits and spices. White Persian melon tea is a wonderful flavored white tea as are white licorice and white grapefruit.
It pays to shop around when it comes to choosing flavored teas. If you look hard enough, it's likely that you can find your favorite flavor in a tea, even if it seems unlikely at first.
One caution about buying flavored tea. Some tea producers use inferior grades of tea to produce flavored teas, with the belief that the flavors will hide the low quality of the tea itself. So, when you're purchasing a flavored tea it's important to look for signs indicating that it's a quality tea. Be sure your flavored tea is created from:
- Only loose tea - the lower grades of tea are used for tea bags
- A high grade of tea - Choose one of the best tea grades for your particular variety
- All natural flavors - The best flavored teas are created from natural flavorings. Lower quality teas will use artificial flavorings instead.
Everyone loves flavored tea. It's a matter of finding the right tea to suit your particular taste. Tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink because it's high in anti-oxidants that can help prevent disease and slow down the process of aging. Of particular benefit are those teas that are combined with other healthy botanicals that also contain anti-oxidants or have other health benefits. For example, pomegranates are exceptionally high in anti-oxidants, so when combined with tea, you have a powerhouse drink that is very healthy.
So, shop around for your favorite flavored teas. Exotic and delicious flavors add a whole new dimension to any variety of tea providing a tasty and often healthy difference in your favorite beverage.