10 Obscure Teas
Tea: it is the absolute most popular beverage in the word. Almost everybody in the world has drunk tea of some kind or another during their lifetime. In general you can say that there are two types of teas: true teas which are brewed from actual tea leaves and tisanes, aka herbal teas which are blended from a mixture of herbs and flowers. Naturally, with a beverage with such a high level popularity around the word, there are multitudes of variation amongst various teas and tisanes that have grown popular in those certain parts of the world but not necessarily in other parts. Here is a list of ten teas that you may or may not have heard of or may or may not have drunk.
It can be said that roses are the most famous flower of them all, noted for its beauty and fragrance. So obviously, a tea with crushed rose petals blended in would clearly have a fragrance to match: a fragrance of the late summer reminding you of those beautiful rose gardens you walked through. Rose teas can be made for either black tea or green tea. It consists of drying out rose petals which are then crushed and added to the tea powder. What’s nice about rose tea is that while there are specialty stores that sell the stuff, you can easily make your own if you have a rose garden or rose bush.
Gunpowder tea is a classic green tea originating from Zhejiang province in China, though it can also be served as an oolong tea. Gunpowder tea is made up of tea leaves that have been hand-rolled into tiny pellets, hence its name. It is especially noted for its bold and smoky taste which also contributes to the name. Some things to note about gunpowder tea is that since the leaves are highly compressed, they tend to stay fresh for longer periods of time compared to other teas. Also, gunpowder tea has higher concentrations of caffeine when compared to other green teas (35-40 mg per 8 oz. serving) and is therefore popular with athletes.
Darjeeling tea is a tea originating from the Darjeeling region of West Bengal, India. It is usually served as a black tea although green and oolong varieties have also been becoming more popular. When brewed properly it is noted for its musky spiciness, often described as “muscatel” as if it were some kind of wine. Due to its high quality aroma and taste reminiscent of the muscatel grape, Darjeeling tea is frequently referred to as the “Champagne of teas”. It is commonly regarded as the finest of all teas accounting for less than 1% of all teas grown in the mountains of India.
When people think of true teas, they usually think of black tea, green tea, and oolong tea along with all of their various derivatives. Less commonly thought of would be white tea and pu-erh tea. White tea is basically the least processed of all teas; this means that it is often more nutritious than black or green teas. While it has been commonly consumed in China for centuries, it hasn’t really made much of an impact yet in the west. Recently however, there has definitely been an increase in the consumption of white tea in the west, especially when it is noted that white tea could improve the immune system some 10% more than green tea does.
Speaking about the other form of true tea beyond black, green, oolong, and white, there is pu-erh tea. Pu-erh tea originates from the Yunnan province of China and is noted to have a number of medicinal qualities. What sets it apart from the other teas is the time taken to process it: pu-erh tea is aged naturally to up to fifteen years before it is dried for consumption. This gives it a soft, earthy flavor with some woodsy tones. Pu-erh tea has zero astringency and a smooth, refreshing flavor which is what makes it stand out amongst the other forms of teas.
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Masala Chai doesn’t make this list because it is obscure. In fact, it is regularly found in coffee and tea shops all over the west. Rather, it is on this list because most westerners who order “chai tea” in coffee and tea shops don’t necessarily know what it truly is. “Chai” is simply what “tea” is referred to as in India. “Masala” is a blend of spices. It is commonly a Ceylon black tea with added spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. When you order “chai tea” in a coffee and tea shop, masala chai is what you’re getting. “Chai tea” literally means “tea tea”.
Rooibos tea is a tisane that is exceptionally popular in South Africa. It is commonly referred to as “Red Tea” or “African Red Tea” and is made from South African Red Bush, an herb commonly found in Africa. The rooibos plant is processed in the same was green tea is and was actually being processed as such by native Africans around the Cape of South Africa for centuries before being discovered by westerners in the late 18th century. Rooibos tea especially became popular during World War II, basically because it had become extremely difficult to import true teas from Asia during that time—rooibos tea was an easily accessible alternative.
With most teas originating out of China and India, Turkeish tea stands out as a unique blend for its origins from Turkey. Consumption of Turkish tea is a central part of Turkish culture and is considered a necessity of any meal in Turkey. It has a strong, full flavor which is why it is often taken in smaller tulip shaped glasses it is usually watered down to the level of the consumer’s preference. It is a black tea that is cultivated domestically on the coast of the Black Sea and even has a specialized two-stacked kettle called a çaydanlık for its brewing.
This herbal tea is derived from te-de-limon or lemongrass. An herb that originated from Southeast Asia, it began to grow in popularity in the United States due to the rapid of rise of popularity of Thai food. It is particularly popular in Southern California in health food stores due to an influx in the interest of health foods and the benefit herbal teas have on health. Within Mexican folk medicine it was long believed that lemongrass could cure multiple ailments such as high blood pressure, digestion problems, and nervous disorders. While there is no scientific basis for these claims it is still a healthy herbal tea that can be consumed for your pleasure.
Yes that’s right, cannabis can also cultivated as an herbal tea. In fact, it is with cannabis tea that any true medical benefits of marijuana can be experienced as opposed to smoking pot. Cannabis tea has very minimal THC within it and has none of the tar and toxins that come with smoking marijuana. It is also rather easy to brew which makes it extra enticing for those suffering from chronic pain. That said, keep in mind that it is marijuana at its core—true medical marijuana when compared to pot smoking but that’s still something to keep in mind.
These are just some of the teas and tisanes that you should be able to find at your local coffee and tea store. Have you partaken in any of these teas? Do you like them? Go out and enjoy your fancy teas.
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