Tea has been the world’s most popular beverage for centuries. And it didn’t take long for tea artisans to determine that the only way to make tea better was to add other delicious flavors to it. And, today, tea is available in every flavor imaginable. The most popular teas for flavoring are black teas and green teas, though flavored white and oolong teas are gaining popularity.
The idea of flavoring tea happened quite blooming tea balls naturally, as it turns out. It’s Years ago in China, fruit trees like apricot, peach and plum trees were planted near the tea trees to provide shade for the tea leaves. Over time, the tea took on a bit of the flavor of the nearby fruit completely naturally. This led to flavoring the tea leaves as part of the tea production process in order to deepen the fruit flavors and to allow new flavors to be created.
Flavored teas are believed to have originated in China, the birthplace of all tea drinking. The original flavored tea was either jasmine flavored green tea, which is still extremely popular today, or Feizi Zhao tea, which was a very special blend created for a very special reason. Jasmine tea is one of the most treasured teas in China and is made from only the freshest unopened jasmine blooms paired with fine spring first flush green tea.
Feizi Zhao was prepared by adding the juice of the litchee fruit to tea. Litchee fruit was purported to be an aphrodisiac, and was created for Emperor Zuan Xong of the Tang Dynasty for his great love, Feizi Zhao. The fascination with the lovely scent and flavor that the fruit and flowers provided to these teas created the idea to try many other flavors. Earl Grey, the most popular of all English teas is just black tea flavored with bergamot oil.
Different varieties of tea will taste differently with flavorings added. The method of processing the tea greatly affects its taste.
Black tea is fermented during processing. After plucking, the leaves are fermented to give them a fuller body and bolder flavor. When flavoring black tea, a higher concentration of the flavoring is required because the tea itself possesses a stronger flavor. Deep flavors like cinnamon and plums are delicious with black tea.
Green teas are not fermented. They retain a more natural taste of the tea leaf. Some describe green tea as having a somewhat grassy taste. Green tea will absorb the flavorings more fully allowing lighter flavors to be used. Even light florals like jasmine work well with green teas.
White teas are the newest to the Western world and are also the newest to be flavored. Like green teas, white teas are not fermented. However, white teas are also made from a younger tea leaf. In fact, white tea leaves are plucked before the buds are even opened, while they still have fine white hairs on them. White teas are the mildest and sweetest in flavor. They taste best with light and sweet flavorings, such as mild fruit flavors, florals and sweet spices.