There are those tea drinkers (myself among them) who believe that a good cup of tea needs nothing else, whether it be milk, cream, sweeteners, or lemon. But everyone likes what they like, and, of course, there are many people who could not even conceive of drinking a cup of tea without assorted and sundry additives. There are also many tea drinkers who are fond of various flavored teas and tisanes, the latter of which are sometimes referred to as herbal teas.
The practice of flavoring is probably as old as tea drinking itself and the number and variety of flavoring ingredients and combinations are probably only limited by the imagination. To paraphrase the catchphrase of one TV food show host, “If it tastes good, drink it.” And so many people do. But out of all the nearly limitless varieties of flavored teas there are a handful that have become more popular than the rest.
Named for a relatively obscure British politician who may or may not have been the first one to devise this concoction, Earl Grey tea is typically made from a base of black tea and flavored with the highly aromatic oil of bergamot, a small citrus fruit. While many tea drinkers love it, for some it is an acquired taste.
In India Chai is synonymous with tea – literally. To keep things clear, the flavored tea that most of us know as Chai should more correctly be referred to as Masala Chai. Like Earl Grey it is most often prepared using a base of black tea and is flavored with a mix of spices that can include cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, fennel seeds, peppercorn, and cloves.
Another flavored tea that can be an acquired taste for many, Lapsang Souchong is most often made with a base of Chinese black tea that has been “flavored” by curing it with the smoke from pine wood fires. The flavor is about what one would expect in this case and in some cases could even be likened to smoked sausage.
Another very popular flavored tea, Jasmine is made by flavoring tea with Jasmine flowers, which are left in the tea for a specified period of time and then removed, though a few flowers may be left for visual effect. Jasmine tea is usually made with lighter, more delicate varieties of tea that are not as likely to overpower the delicate flavor of the Jasmine. Green tea is probably the most common base for this type of tea.
It may not be the most unusual ingredient used to flavor tea, but rice has to be right up there near the top of the list. Genamaicha is a type of flavored tea that probably originated in Japan. It consists of a base of Japanese green tea that has been flavored with roasted rice. The most common comparison for this offbeat taste sensation is to popcorn.
Make sure to stop by William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!