Tea has a wide array of characteristics ans one of them is the variety of choices and flavors it provides a tea lover. Many might seem a bit skeptical about flavored tea, deeming it as an unnatural beverage, however there is nothing so unnatural about adding the sweet flavors of jasmine blossoms to a cup or any other herb, fruit and spice for that matter. Flavored teas are created by simply adding flavors to tea. Tea leaves can a great many additives during it’s preparation process, particularly as they oxidize. Today those additives include a range of floral aromas to fruit flavoring to syrup.
For the process of flavoring tea the most commonly used is the black variety, as green and white teas are almost never used during the flavoring process as they are less oxidized and wouldn’t absorb additives like black tea. The teas that are used are diverse and Ceylon Tea is one of the most commonly used teas for the process of flavoring
There are several terms used during the process of flavoring that needs to be understood.
These provide teas a sensory and a visual effect. Inclusions are blossoms, pieces of dried fruit, herbs and spices that are added to the tea leaves for the purpose of highlighting the teas’ visual effect
These are flavoring agents that are derived by the extraction of essential oils from the leaves, fruits, blossoms, roots or other parts of the plant. The ‘essential oils’ of the plant carries it’s distinctive scents or flavors. Extracts can vary from the simple task of obtaining oil from a lemon peel by pressing it or to the more complex process of soaking vanilla beans in alcohol.
These flavoring agents are obtained from natural substances with the help of chemical synthesis. Although derived by a chemist, the end product has the identical chemical structure as the ‘Natural’ flavored. Nature-identical flavors tend to be more stable than most of the purely natural flavoring extracts and a usually less expensive, and the majority of flavored teas found in stores flavored with nature-identical flavors.
These flavors are created by altering the chemical structure of a naturally occurring molecule to alter and create a different, more intense or less expensive flavor.
A tea can be flavored with these processes mentioned above, it can be flavored through the addition of inclusions, by being coated in extracts or by being scented. Often more than one method is used. Most inclusions alter the flavor or the aroma of a cup of tea in various ways and remains to have a mild flavor instead of a strong one. Most flavored teas nowadays are flavored with Natural Identical flavors, and the consistence of the flavoring agent is thicker than water but is thinner than olive oil.
To flavor teas by using Extracts one has to pour or spray the flavoring agent over dry leaf and then the leaves are mixed to ensure even distribution. With extracts most teas can be flavored withing 30 minutes, though some flavors require a significantly longer time.
Scented teas like jasmine tea, derive their flavor or aroma from simple being in the proximity to strong flavors. While some jasmine teas are artificially scented, some teas are scented with jasmine blossoms which are then removed later.
There is a dizzying array of flavored teas in the market, from flower-flavored teas such as jasmine, rose, chrysanthemum, to spiced teas, where you easily find Ceylon Black tea combined with ginger, or Masala chai with an array of spices. You can also find fruity teas such as, peaches, banana, raspberry apples, blueberry and many more.
The choices may be vast and a difficulty to keep a record of, but that is the ultimate beauty of flavored tea, you need not rack you brain, all you have to do is open your palate and enjoy something new everyday.