How to Make Scented and Flavored Teas at Home
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 04, Feb 2014
Despite being obtained from the leaves of the same plant, true teas – meaning green, black, white, oolong and pu-erh – come not only with different colors but also with distinct flavors and health benefits.
The differences between these beverages made from Camellia sinensis are given by the conditions of cultivation, harvesting season and steps followed when processing the leaves. None of these factors can be influenced by the regular tea drinker, so at least theoretically, tea should have the same taste regardless of how it’s prepared, if it comes from the same harvest.
However, if you start experimenting and testing different types of tea, you’ll soon notice that there are, in fact, some factors that can be influenced by the person who prepares the beverage, and they all affect the taste of tea in a more or less significant manner.
In a previous article, I explained how each type of tea should be brewed and how the water’s temperature, the steeping time and the amount of loose leaves used for preparing the beverage influence the final taste. Also, in this article I gave you some additional information on how the plucking season affects the taste of tea.
It’s therefore time to talk about other methods of enhancing the tea’s taste, applicable for both commercial and homemade teas: flavoring and scenting.
Why and how is tea flavored?
The main reason for flavoring or scenting tea is to obtain different blends, styles and flavors, and to create distinctive, enhanced tastes for the classical types of tea. Some producers scent their teas by mixing the Camellia sinensis leaves with flower buds and petals, or by layering the tea and flower parts in order to allow the leaves to absorb the fragrances released by flowers.
Others prefer to flavor their tea blends with flower extracts and oils, this procedure being a bit simpler. Artificial flavors, which are obtained by altering naturally occurring compounds, can also be used for producing teas with more intense tastes, without affecting the quality of these beverages. To obtain new tea assortments, the flavoring agents are poured or sprayed over the dry Camellia sinensis leaves.
However, the flavoring process can be done at home as well, so if you’re one of those tea drinkers who like experimenting and would love to create your own tea blends, here’s how to prepare flavored tea at home.
How to create your own flavored tea blend
There aren’t too many rules when it comes to preparing home scented or flavored teas, but it’s good to keep in mind that some teas have milder fragrances, while others are naturally stronger and bolder, and these differences will influence the final blends.
Although some prefer using tea bags for preparing flavored teas, my advice is to opt for loose leaves, and get some fillable tea bags, as this way you’ll obtain a more qualitative beverage. If you’re using oils or extracts, start by laying the leaves on a clean surface, in a thin layer, and spray the flavor over them using a small spray bottle.
For a better taste, it’s recommended to lay the leaves on a glass or stainless steel surface and mix them using a spoon after spraying the oil, then allow the tea leaves to dry for 20 minutes. The amount of flavor used shouldn’t exceed 4% of the amount of tea leaves, which means 0.04 multiplied with the quantity of leaves.
Once the leaves have dried, transfer them into an airtight container and allow them to absorb the flavor for at least 24 hours and up to 5 days. Make sure to wear latex gloves if transferring the leaves with your hands, or a stainless steel spoon. Store the container in a dry and dark place.
A few extra tips:
- Avoid mixing broken with whole leaves and make sure the leaves have relatively uniform sizes.
- If you prefer using flowers, opt for jasmine, rose, osmanthus flowers or lotus flowers. For scenting the tea with petals, mix the flowers in the tea container and allow the leaves to absorb the fragrances overnight.
- You can also scent and flavor the tea leaves with mint leaves, citrus peel – ideal for black tea, with spices such as ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, fennel and clove, vanilla, nutmeg or anise.
- Black, oolong and green tea are the best choices for preparing homemade flavored tea, as their natural fragrances are more powerful. Remember that the purpose of flavoring your beverage is to enhance its natural taste, not to cover it.
If you’re ready to create your personalized tea blend, start with a base – such as green or black tea – and stick with only one or two flavors until you get used to the process and learn what works and what doesn’t.
To make sure you pick those flavors that will complement the tea’s natural taste, you can also take a look at our collection of flavored green, black, white, oolong or pu-erh tea blends, and check the ingredients in your favorite teas. This will make it easier for you to identify those fruits, flowers or spices that can be mixed with each type of tea, and to get more creative when personalizing your tea blends.