A ton of “stuff” that smothers the tea taste. (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

A ton of “stuff” that smothers the tea taste. (Photo source: A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

My taste for flavored teas has for the most part faded like a cheap rug in the sunlight. The reason is pretty simple but takes a bit of explaining and some examples.

Once upon a time, Earl Grey was my favorite tea. I was gaga over it. Wouldn’t drink anything else. Then, I started branching out into other flavored teas. A spiced tea that folks in the U.S. call “chai” but that is more correctly called “masala chai” or “spiced tea” was the next one to grab my interest. It all started at an Indian restaurant. My love for curries, chutneys, and other Indian foods is by now well-known to everyone around me. A nice cup of masala chai seemed a natural beverage to have, therefore, with that spicy lamb vindaloo. Normally, I’d have a mango lassie, but it was a chilly day, so hot tea sounded better anyway.

From these humble beginnings, I branched out into trying various flavored teas. Some of this was due to samples that were offered and that I accepted. Hey, why not? Some of the flavors included:

  • Flowers — Orange Blossom White Tea, Lavender Butterfly Green Tea, Emerald Sun Flowering Green Tea with Chrysanthemum
  • Fruits — Cranberry Black Tea, Peach Apple Crisp, Apricot Green Tea, Berry Medley, Blackcurrant Black Tea, Japanese Sencha Kyoto Cherry Tea, Kyoho Grape Oolong, Lemon Mango Black Tea, Lychee Congou Black Tea, Monk’s Blend Black Tea, Citron Green Tea, Bohemian Raspberry Green Tea, Candy Apple Black Tea, Passionfruit Oolong, Pomegranate Green Tea, Orange Spice Black Tea, Strawberry Fields Black Tea, Tropical Tangerine White Tea
  • Baked goods — Pumpkin Spice (4 versions), Auntie’s Pumpkin Pie, Gingerbread Black Tea
  • Vegetables — Artichoke Green Tea, White Cucumber Tea, Sweet Potato Black Tea
  • Jasmines — Jasmine Ancient Beauty, All That Jazz-mine, Jasmine Bloom Flowering Tea, Jasmine Dragon Pearl, Jasmine Green Tea, Dragon Phoenix Jasmine Green Tea
  • Spices — Masala Chai, Ginger Chai, Bombay Chai, Cardamom Chai, India Spice Chai in a K-Cup, Green Chai, Mountain High Chai, Night of the Iguana Chocolate Chai, Saffron Chai, Holiday Spice Black Tea, Vanilla Chai
  • Earl Grey (4 versions) and variations — Earl Grey Citrus Tea, Earl Grey Cream Metropolitan Blend, Earl Grey Lavender Black Tea, British Earl Grey White Tea, Crazy Earl, Buckingham Palace Garden Party Black Tea
  • Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint, etc. — Bossa Nova Oolong, Vanilla Black Tea, Madagascar Vanilla Black Tea, Vanilla Almond Oolong, Candy Cane Black Tea, Chocolate Mint Tea, French ChocoLatté Green Tea, Scottish Caramel Toffee Pu-erh
  • Nuts — Hazelnut Black Tea, Chestnut Black Tea
  • Ones with Strange Names — I’m a Survivor, The Armstrong, The Carter, The Gillespie, The Horne, The Krall, The Monk, The Vaughan, City in a Garden, Angel’s Dream, Butter Baroness, Summer Sunrise, Sock It To Me, The Road to Hana, Lover’s Lane, Winter Wonderland, Indian Summer, Cherry Oh Baby, Corazon de Melon

They all had one thing in common: they smothered the taste of the tea. Hubby and I began to wonder why we were even bothering with the tea part. Best to just have some straight infusions of whatever the flavorings were that had been added to those teas. This became increasingly important as soon as we tasted really good teas.

Golden Bi Luo Chun and Ti Kuan Yin Iron Goddess were the first teas to show us what we were missing under all those flavors. Subtleties and nuances that changed with each infusion or even as the temperature of the liquid changed. Ever since, we have been on an exploratory journey, tastebud-wise, to find out more. Every now and then we have a flavored tea, but we quickly return to the straight kind. Ah!

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