Offbeat Teas and Tisanes

Yerba Mate
Yerba Mate

As we’ve noted here before, what type of tea you drink probably has a lot to do with where you were born and what type of culture you grew up in. If you’re from the United States there’s a good chance that you don’t drink tea. If you’re from the United Kingdom, you probably like a good stiff cup of black tea with cream and sugar. If you’re from Japan, one variety or another of green tea is likely to be your poison du jour.

Which is all something of a generalization and as useful as most generalizations are. But on the other hand, many generalizations do tend to be based on at least a few grains of truth.

If you want to oversimplify a bit you could say that black and green teas comprise the lion’s share of the world’s tea market. All the way at the other end of this range are those teas and tisanes (tea-like drinks that are not made from the Camellia sinensis plant), which are so obscure that many people have never heard of them. Here are a few:

Black Drink
A beverage derived from the Yaupon Holly or Ilex vomitoria. Native to North America, it’s used to make the so-called black drink, which was once used in rituals by Native Americans in the southeastern United States. Ilex vomitoria is related to Ilex paraguensis, better known as yerba mate.

A tisane made from roasted barley. Popular in various parts of Asia, including Japan, where roasted rice is added to green tea to make a variety known as genmaicha.

Tibetan Butter Tea
An acquired taste for many outsiders, this robust mix of black tea with yak butter and salt is as beloved by Tibetans as peanut butter and jelly is by American school kids.

Bacon Tea
No porkers were harmed in the making of this blended tea, which uses almond flavor and smoky teas such as gunpowder and Lapsang souchong to simulate the flavor of everyone’s favorite smoked meat product.

Poo-poo Puerh
Yes, it really does contain poo. Poo-poo puerh is made up made up of excrement from the larvae of grain moths fed on puerh tea leaves. Yum, yum.

Make sure to stop by William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

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