Part of a time honored tradition, flavored teas became hugely popular in the 1970s when they spread throughout Europe. These teas are infused with the essence of flower petals, dried fruits and spices. It’s virtually impossible to say exactly how many flavors are available, as selections can include virtually any fruit, flower, condiment, liqueur or spice.
Flavored teas account for one third of all tea sales, and even a purist who delights in the subtle essence of a specific garden or the complex balance of a perfect blend cannot ignore the fact that flavored teas are gaining in popularity. Most notably women and young people are responding to some of the strong fruity flavors being offered today.
To flavor tea the tealeaves are put in a large, rotating drum. As the drum rotates the leaves are sprinkled with the essence of oils, adding a concentrated flavor to the leaves. Flavored tea should not be confused with perfumed tea, which is tea that gets its distinctive taste and fragrance from authentic, aromatic plant matter.
Fruit zest or slivers of peel and flower petals are often added for aesthetics. Some of the more popular floral additives are jasmine - typically added to green teas - hibiscus, lavender, rose and marigold. Some of the more popular fruit additives are apple, cherry, currant, raisins and berries including strawberry, raspberry and chokeberry. Favorite spice additives include mint, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, anise and nutmeg.
Flavored teas can be soothing or energizing depending on the flavor, and if you tend to enjoy sweeter teas they may offer you an opportunity to enjoy an unsweetened tea for a healthy change.