Tea must be one of the best ways we can soothe our mind, body, and soul with just one cup. The whole experience of drinking and making this incredible beverage has been proven to affect people positively; it calms, soothes, boosts our metabolism and makes us feel overall much better and healthier. But, sometimes, tea can get complicated, especially if you’re trying to expand your horizons and learn more about its varieties and flavors.
When discovering tea, people usually get surprised to learn that all types of tea come from one same plant known as Camellia sinensis. The plant belongs to the species of the evergreen bush. In order to get different Camellia sinensis varieties, the plant thrives and is cultivated under different conditions. This way it produces unique-tasting varieties that are suited for drinking.
Now, there can be some confusion between varieties of tea, grades, flavors or blends. To make things simpler, we will discuss in the following paragraphs what is known as flavors or tea varieties.
Tea grades refer to the grade of leaf plucked from the plant, and tea blends refer to beverages consisting of leaves, herbs, and other ingredients. We will surely discuss them as they produce outstanding flavors and aromas. Since there are hundreds of different flavors, we will focus on those which are either the very basis in the beverage industry, as well as those which are the most interesting. So, let’s get started!
7 Tea Flavors (Most Popular)
1. White Tea Flavors
White tea is known to be the least processed tea variety. It is also one of the most delicate and elegant varieties out there, as it is hand-plucked and gently dried. White tea is generally grown and consumed in the Far East, but lately, it has gained attention in the rest of the world. It is famous for its light color, delicate aroma and outstandingly beautiful flavors. The leaves are also famous on their own, for an interesting appearance.
They are, well, still leafy but rolled or in buds, covered in what is known as the silvery strings. It is believed that white tea is very rich in nutrients, and recent studies have shown that it can also be rich in caffeine. Now, here are some of the best and most flavorful white tea flavors;
Silver Needle or Bai Hao Yinzhen
Silver Needle is the crème de la crème when it comes to white tea. It is considered to be the golden standard, mostly because of its sweet flavor, light, brisk, and delicate color as well as silvery buds. Silver Needle can also feature a floral aroma as well as a mellow and full taste that can sometimes be a bit peppery, depending on the variety. Here is our top pick for the best Silver Needle brand you can buy from;
- Tealyra White Tea Jasmine Silver Needle – at Tealyra, you can buy pure Silver Needle, but because we are discussing different flavors, we’ve decided to recommend Jasmine Yin Zhen Silver Needle white tea. It is composed out of premium Silver Needle leaves and buds as well as fragrant jasmine blossoms.
Pai Mu Tan or Bai Mudan (White Peony)
Pai Mu Tan is another type of white tea that is known for its outstanding full flavor and a mild peony aroma. It is definitely considered to be one of the best types and is famous for people who are freshly introduced to this variety. Pai Mu Tan has a rather pale color, that can sometimes vary between pale green or golden color. The infusion of Pai Mu Tan is generally clear and has a sweet, full taste with no bitterness. Here is our top pick for Pai Mu Tan brand you can buy from:
- Dragon Tea House Bai Mudan – at the Dragon Tea House you can choose between different Bai Mudan; from aged premium, organic to ball-shaped, you will all find it here. This brand provides high-quality white tea that originates from China directly. Bai Mudan has a smooth taste, a fruity aroma with notes of dates, melon or vanilla, depending on which flavor you choose.
2. Green Tea Flavors
When it comes to cultivation and processing, green tea is completely unique. It goes through an additional drying stage in order to halt oxidization and retain the green, leafy appearance. Green tea is rich in antioxidants as well as caffeine and is usually celebrated as the health elixir. It actually originates from Japan and China, where it is also largely consumed.
Other Far East and southeast Asian countries are also increasingly using green tea in the past few decades. However, different countries use their own cultivation and drying methods, as well as blending and mixing methods.
Green tea overall is probably the most versatile variety on the list. It has over 200 varieties, and maybe double the flavors. It usually has a citrusy flavor, a hint of roasted notes and a wonderful honey fragrance. Here are some of the most famous green tea varieties and flavors;
Genmaicha is probably one of the most famous, and most interesting varieties of green tea. It is actually a blend of Japanese green tea and puffed brown rice. Often referred to as the ‘popcorn tea’, Genmaicha undergoes a roasting process during which the rice pops. Genmaicha usually has a warm and nutty flavor that is full but with no bitterness. Infused Genmaicha has an inviting light-yellow color, which is a result of the green tea being mixed with roasted rice. Here’s the best Genmaicha brand you can buy from;
- TenRen’s Tea Genmaicha – Brown Rice Green Tea – at TenRen’s you will be able to get your hands on the best Genmaicha ever. It consists of one of the best Sencha variety which is blended with roasted brown rice. It is very pleasant, in both taste and aroma. It has a light scent of freshness, roasted rice, and a mild aftertaste. It is truly unique and a must for every true tea connoisseur.
Matcha is a traditional Japanese powdered tea that is made from finely ground young leaves. Because it has a powdery texture, Matcha is prepared by whisking with hot water to create a thick and creamy cup of Match. It is prepared for the most important ceremonies in Japan, but it can be commercially used for Matcha lattes, or as an ingredient in many recipes. That is why there are several grades of Matcha, ranging from Ceremonial Matcha to Culinary Matcha. Here’s the best Matcha brand you can buy from;
- Grace & Green Ceremonial – this brand produces one of the best Matcha green teas in the world. The brand belongs to a Japanese company, one of the few that meets strict standards of making Matcha. Matcha itself is rich in flavor, very smooth and recognized by respected tea connoisseurs. There are no hints of bitterness or harshness in this brew, only alluring, sweet aftertaste.
3. Black Tea Flavors
Black tea is the most common tea variety. It takes around 90% of global consumption in the Western world. Unlike white or green varieties, black tea is fully oxidized, and that is why it is darker in color, as well as in caffeine content. It also has smaller and thinners leaves, which can sometimes even resemble granules. Overall, black tea has a strong flavor, the aroma is generally potent and has great depth. In the Far East and Southeast Asia, it is enjoyed with milk, however, it is done so in Great Britain as well. Moreover, it also belongs to the well-known single estate teas, as it is cultivated in Darjeeling and Assam in India, but also in Chinese provinces like Yunnan. Here are some of the best-known black tea varieties and flavors;
More: Best Black Tea: Everything You Need to Know
Early Grey is a type of black tea that is made from milder-tasting leaves. It is usually produced in China, India or Sri Lanka, and is generally native to South East Asia. Nowadays, Earl Grey is the most consumed variety of black tea and is being enjoyed all over the world. Earl Grey is a black tea that is scented with bergamot oil, extracted from the fruit of the bergamot plant. It has a citrusy flavor, with notes of honey, nuts, wood or caramel. Moreover, it is smooth and has full strength in color, taste, and aroma. Here’s the best Earl Grey brand you can buy from;
- FeelGood Organics Earl Grey Tea Bags– if you’re looking for the finest Chinese or Indian Earl Grey, you will find it at FeelGood Organics. Here, you can buy the ultra-premium Earl Grey which is exceptionally rich in citrusy flavor, which is accentuated with a note of the bergamot oil. Earl Grey can be enjoyed with milk, but it is recommended to drink with a slice of lemon, and with a side of wonderful buttery pastry.
English Breakfast Tea
English Breakfast is typically a blend of three or more varieties of black tea. These varieties usually originate from countries like Kenya, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, and China (Chinese province Yunnan). The brew was developed by the British during the British Empire in order to suit their taste preferences. That is why English Breakfast is recommended to drink with milk, with a side of heavily sweet food (cakes, cookies, and sponges). Here’s the best English Breakfast brand you can buy from;
- Harney & Sons English Breakfast Tea – Harney & Sons are known for their premium teas, and by choosing their English Breakfast, you certainly won’t be mistaken. The Harney & Sons English Breakfast is made out of Chinese black tea, has a toasty aroma and is medium-full bodied. It is generally very straightforward in flavor and aroma; it is quite mellow with hints of honest and toast. Their English Breakfast is very simple, quite strong and heavy in caffeine content.
4. Oolong Tea Flavors
Oolong is a very unique tea variety. It is partially oxidized, oftentimes rolled, and shares characteristics of both black and green tea. Oolong varieties are known for their rather light flavor notes, which are definitely more complex than they are in green tea. Oolong is most famous for its origin and infusion; it comes from Taiwan and can be re-steeped several times, usually up to eight.
Oolong leaves are also quite distinctive; they are curled, twisted or balled, with a wonderful blue-green or grey-green hue. Oolong is also known for its numerous health benefits, the ability to boost metabolism and increase weight loss. Here are some of the best-known Oolong varieties and flavors you might like;
Milk Oolong Tea or Jin Xuan
Jin Xuan Oolong is a rather new variety when it comes to tea history and industry. It has been created in the 1980s in Taiwan, and ever since is known for its milky, creamy and sweet flavor. Alternatively, it is called ‘Milk Oolong’, but the term can be applied to basically any Oolong, as each has a milky and creamy taste and texture.
However, we need to point out that the Oolong leaves are not infused with milk, as people tend to believe. Milk Oolongs are simply known for their milky and sweet taste, which comes either naturally or the tea is mixed with sweeteners. Moreover, Jin Xuan is also consumed with milk and sweeteners either way, so there might lie the origin of the name. Nevertheless, here’s the best Jin Xuan brand you can buy from;
- Dragon Tea House Premium Organic Jin Xuan Milk Oolong – Dragon Tea House again has made it possible for us to enjoy the best Jin Xuan Milk Oolong in the comfort of our home. The brew comes, of course, from Taiwan. It has a highly floral fragrance, silky or milky texture and a full-body infusion. It is hand-processed and picked at the highest Taiwanese mountains at an altitude of 1450 meters and higher. The organic Jin Xuan Oolong has a yellowish-green color, a smooth taste, and exceptional creaminess.
Phoenix Tea or Dan Cong/Dan Cong
Produced in Guangdong province in China, Phoenix Oolong is one of the best-known varieties of this tea. Dan Cong is harvested from one, single bush of a tea plant, hence the meaning of the name in Chinese, which is ‘single bush’. It doesn’t have a standard flavor, because each bush produced leaves of different aroma and taste.
The leaves, however, all look the same; they are curly, and usually, unfold during the infusion. If we must describe, nevertheless, the flavor and aroma of the Phoenix Oolong, we would say that it has a rich, full-bodied flavor. It is very much floral in both flavor and aroma, reminding of orange blossom or orchids. There can also be notes of spiciness, like ginger or grapefruit, depending on where you buy your Dan Cong. In that case, here is the best Dan Cong brand in our opinion;
- Adagio Dan Cong Aria Oolong – Adagio is a well-known tea manufacturer; they always provide high-quality organic teas, and Phoenix Oolong is definitely one of them. Their Dan Cong has a very perfumy aroma, reminiscent of orchids and almonds. It is very smooth and creamy in texture and flavors, with a fruity, apricot or peach aftertaste. It is recommended to be prepared with low water temperature for maximum sweetness.
More: Best Oolong Tea( Are Chinese Oolong the Best?)
5. Rooibos Tea Flavors
Rooibos is a bushy plant that is native to South Africa. The name ‘Rooibos’ literally means ‘red bush’, as the leaves, which start off as green, turn into an earthy red color when processed. The leaves are treated as the tea leaves; they are plucked, oxidized and dried. They are also infused in hot water before consumption, and overall enjoyed as regular brew. Rooibos has been enjoyed in South Africa for a long time, but nowadays Rooibos has become a standard choice among tea lovers and connoisseurs.
Rooibos is caffeine-free but is high in antioxidants. Because of these properties, it is usually recommended as a healthy tea or coffee alternative, especially for those with caffeine allergy. Rooibos is generally enjoyed on its own but can be mixed with milk or sweeteners. You can also use Rooibos as a part of your skincare (exfoliant, face and body scrub), or in the kitchen as a crust for a variety of sweet and savory pies. Here are some of the best Rooibos varieties and flavors;
Sure, we’ve just said that Rooibos tea leaves are red, but there is a Rooibos variety that actually stays green. Green Rooibos is made from unfermented leaves; therefore, it stays green and usually contains twice as many antioxidants as the regular, red Rooibos. Sometimes it is not exactly green in color but is oftentimes simply lighter than the red Rooibos. Nevertheless, it has a delicate and subtle herbal flavor and a wonderful, inviting aroma. Here’s our recommendation for the best Green Rooibos brand you can buy from;
- Adagio Green Rooibos Tea – as mentioned before, Adagio is one of the best tea manufacturers in the world. Among the teas they offer, you will also find high-quality green Rooibos tea harvested in South Africa. Their green Rooibos is lighter-bodied, has a natural sweetness and woody-grassy aroma. It is very smooth and has a bitterness to it. It is, of course, caffeine-free, can be enjoyed with milk or sweeteners, as well as either hot or cold.
Rooibos has proven to an exceptional variety of tea that can be perfectly mixed with other herbs and flavors. It seems that Rooibos complements other herbs, especially peppermint, chamomile, vanilla, hibiscus, mint, nuts, fruits (peach, dried pineapple) and other types of herbs. Spices, roots, and herbs are blended with Rooibos to either enhance taste, flavor, and aroma or to enhance medicinal purposes. Some of the most famous flavored Rooibos teas are definitely orange mixed Rooibos, Bourbon vanilla Rooibos and varieties with nuts, like almond mixed Rooibos. Here’s is one of the best-flavored Rooibos brands you can buy from;
- Arbor Teas Organic Flavored Rooibos Teas – we couldn’t really choose one particular type of flavored Rooibos, so we decided to refer to the whole offer of the famous Arbor Teas. Their flavored Rooibos varieties are simply outstanding; the blends are breathtaking, as the flavors include cinnamon, dried mango and peach, vanilla, almost, and even Earl Grey mixture. If you’re looking for exceptional, organic Rooibos blends and mixture, look no further than Arbor Teas.
More: Is Rooibos Tea Safe to Drink During Pregnancy?
6. Pu’erh Tea Flavors
Pu’erh is probably the most complex tea in the world. It is often referred to as ‘whiskey’ of the tea world due to its age and complexity of flavor and aroma. Pu’erh is cultivated and processed in China, mainly the Yunnan Province. It is usually processed by being packed into what is referred to as ‘cakes’ or ‘bricks’ and left to age over time. Once the tea has matured enough to be ready for consumption, small amounts are crumbled for each cup at a time. Pu’erh is known for its incredible flavor and aroma, often reminiscent of coffee, malt or chocolate. It is light, refreshing and usually compared to green tea. Here are the two varieties of Pu’erh and the best brands you can buy them from;
Raw or Sheng Pu’erh
This Pu’erh variety as referred to as ‘raw’ because it is fermented naturally over a long period of time, during which the tea matures. Sheng Pu’erh usually matures over a 10-year period, after which it is considered good enough for consumption. It has a subtle, yet complex earthy flavor. Sheng Pu’erh is also rich in aroma and color, often dark and full-bodied. Here’s the best brand you can buy Sheng Pu’erh from;
- Born Tea Raw Sheng Pu’erh – Born Tea provides, at reasonable pricing, raw Pu’erh that is grown in Yunnan Province. It is very similar to green tea and has a vegetal and fruity flavor and aroma. Raw Pu’erh can have hints of bitterness and astringency; however, the sweet aftertaste usually takes over the bitterness.
Cooked/Ripe or Shou Pu’erh
Because it can take more than 10 years for raw Pu’erh to mature, tea makers have come up with an idea on how to accelerate the aging process. That is how we got Shou Pu’erh, also known as ‘cooked’ Pu’erh. The fermentation technique has been accelerated by creating dense piles of tea. These piles produce additional heat which encourages the process of fermentation. The flavors of this Pu’erh variety are more complex, often having a mushroomy or earthy flavor and aroma. It is important to mention that this is the most expensive tea on the list. Here’s the best brand you can buy Shou Pu’erh from;
- Yunnan Sourcing Yi Wu Ripe Pu’erh Tea Brick – here, you can buy bricks that have been fermented for about 20 years. They are extremely expensive, but the flavor and aroma are worthy of every cent if you are a tea enthusiast. The ripe Pu’erh has a deep, rounded and complete taste, as well as a spectacular light burgundy color. It also has an earthy flavor, that can sometimes remind of wet wood, wet earth, forest floor or mushrooms
More: What You Need to Know about Pu-Erh Tea
7. Tea Blends Flavors
When creating a list of tea flavors, it is impossible to leave out a little thing called tea blending. Creating blends by mixing herbs with tea is one of the best-known ways to expand a variety of different, interesting flavors. Blending, however, is not a modern innovation; it has been around for hundreds of years. Nevertheless, only as of late has tea blending become a notable way of creating new flavors and varieties. Blending techniques have become more thorough, detailed, and interesting. They usually include blending teas and herbs, inclusions and scenting.
- Blending herbs and teas – as mentioned before, herbs like hibiscus, chamomile, rose, peppermint or mint are mixed with different varieties of tea to create the desired blend. By blending spices, roots, and herbs you can create fruit or herbal teas, that can be caffeinated or decaffeinated. Blending can be done by hand, or it can be done commercially using mixing drums.
- Inclusions – inclusions are ingredients that are added to a tea, but they don’t affect nor change the taste or the aroma. This only happens with brews that are used for mainly health purposes, where flavors and aroma are secondary. These ingredients, however, alter the color of tea, making it more appealing and visually pleasing. Ingredients that can be considered inclusions usually refer to dried fruits, for example, dried strawberry.
- Scenting – every tea has a scent that can be altered in regards to the environments where it is grown, dried and overall prepared. Scents are usually added during the blending stage; for example, to green teas, one would add jasmine to alter the scent, or to black teas, one would add bergamot oil. Other ingredients can be added, like blossoms or orchids, rose or lavender.
If you would like to experiment with teas that have been flavored through blending, maybe you should take a look at some of the most interesting blends in our opinion;
- Spiced Orange Chai – this is a blend of black tea, cloves, cardamom pods, dried ginger, dried orange peel and other ingredients that can include apricots, orange blossoms, apple, beetroot, etc.
- Lavender Coconut Rooibos – this is a blend of South African red Rooibos, dried French lavender, desiccated coconut, and natural flavoring. The blend has a fabulous flavor and an even better taste.
- Green Tea with Goji Berry – this is a blend of organic Chinese green tea and goji berry, which has been revered in China for ages, mostly because of its health properties and nutrition. The blend is subtle, sweet and mildly tangy.
- Black tea with orange and pineapple – this is a blend of organic black tea, orange peels, natural orange flavor, and pineapple. The blend has a citrusy note and well as a vibrant aroma. The flavor is bold and slightly tart, but also refreshing with a sweet aftertaste.
This has been a list of brew, aroma and flavor varieties that are usually the basics when it comes to this topic. Some of the varieties and flavors presented have been a personal choice, as we thought these might be the most interesting to our readers. These flavors and aromas are excellent to get interested in tea and learning about it.
We hope that you will now expands your taste and flavor preferences, and that you will discover your new favorite one. Just make sure to stay open-minded and to enjoy your cup of Oolong, Rooibos or any other variety to the fullest. Also, make sure to prepare your favorite biscuits, pastry, and a good book to read. This is probably the best way to enjoy tea and to experience the flavors and aroma.