Do you consider yourself a certified tea lover? Perhaps you’ve already got an impressive tea collection in your home, complete with teapots and tea cups. Maybe you have already tasted the different varieties, like oolong, white, green, and black tea.
There are other unique and interesting types of tea you can try. They are just as delicious and flavorful as the usual blends you enjoy, but they have a little extra something—whether in flavor, appearance, or quality—that regular teas don’t have.
The Basics: Where Does Tea Come From?
A large portion of the tea that people enjoy today comes from the Camellia sinensis plant—the buds and the leaves of this plant are used. After being picked from the bush, the leaves are allowed to wilt and oxidize (exposure to oxygen in the air) or ferment.
The four main types of tea are made from Camellia sinensis, and only vary according to their preparation: green tea is only minimally oxidized, while black tea is oxidized as much as possible. Oolong tea is only allowed to oxidize for a short time. White tea, another popular variety, is made from very young leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.
Unique and Interesting Tea Varieties You Should Try
The tea varieties above are common—chances are you see them everywhere, in groceries and supermarkets, in loose leaf or teabag form. If you’ve already tasted these brews, then it’s time to move on to more exciting and interesting varieties, such as:
- Rooibos tea. This tea is made from a plant that grows in the Cederberg Mountains of South Africa. Rooibos tea, or “red bush tea,” has been enjoyed by South American natives for centuries. The tea is made by brewing the needle-like leaves of the Rooibos plant. It’s a caffeine-free beverage with a sweet and naturally soothing flavor. If you cannot find Rooibos tea in your natural health stores, try looking for red clover tea, red rose tea, or red diamond tea—these are the same brew.
- Hibiscus tea. Here’s another interesting red tea you should try. What makes it unique is that it’s not made from leaves, but from the flowers of the plant. Made from the hibiscus flower, hibiscus tea is a fragrant and sweet drink that is popular in Egypt and other tropical countries. Hibiscus tea can be served hot or cold. In some places, it is even used in special ceremonies, such as weddings and feasts.
- Flowering tea. If you’re looking for an artistic tea, then flowering tea is your best choice! Also called “blooming tea,” flowering tea is not only well-known for its delicious flavor, but also for its fascinating appearance. Flowering tea is made from a bundle of dried tea leaves wrapped around dried flowers. It is tightly bundled together, crafted by tea artists. As soon as you steep it, the flower expands and unfurls—it’s like watching a flower in bloom!
- Yerba Mate tea. Made from the leaves of the Ilex paraguariensis tree, this beverage has a smoky, woody, and slightly bitter flavor. Some say it is an acquired taste—in fact, many people do not like to drink this tea because of its bizarre flavor. Another unique fact about Yerba Mate tea is how it’s consumed. Traditionally, it is brewed and served in a dried gourd, and sipped using a metal straw. A filter is placed at the end of the straw, so that drinkers will not end up drinking bits of leaves. You can buy this in teabag or loose leaf form now, though.
The next time you’re going to drink tea, be more adventurous and try these unique brews. Who knows, you might even consider some these your new favorite beverages!
About the author: Mishka Thomas loves anything exotic. She is constantly searching for ways to make everyday living more interesting and fascinating. She travels to different parts of the world to try out unique sports and taste bizarre food and drinks. Her favorite beverage finds so far are Yerba Mate and hibiscus tea. When she’s not doing any adrenaline-boosting activities, Mishka works as a freelance writer and food blogger. She loves to go fishing, relax by the beach, mow the lawn, and walk her dog.