Tea Time: Types And Characteristics Of Popular Teas

If you are tired of drinking the same tea leaves all the time, here are some different varieties. Information on healing properties and availability.

Those who enjoy a good cup of tea will generally have a particular favorite that they tend to gravitate toward. Every now and then, they might consider sampling another flavor, but often stick with what they know. If you haven't yet expanded your teatime horizons, perhaps it's time to do a big of experimentation. There are many types, each with its own unique flavor - and some possess specific properties which may provide relief from certain conditions, in addition to their soothing taste. Here's a sampling of some of the more popular tea types and their characteristics.

CEYLON

This is considered by many to be one of the world's finest black teas, and offers a brisk, sweet taste in a brightly colored presentation. Ceylon tea, which is produced in Sri Lanka, has a fruity taste - often hinting of orange or lemon - with a sweet floral undertone. When served as iced tea, it is often garnished with lemon or mint to enhance its natural flavor.

DARJEELING

Depending upon the season in which it's harvested, there will be taste variations -March through April will present tea that is light and clear with a brisk flavor; May through June offers a rather pronounced Muscatel grape flavor which is amber in color; between July and September, the flavor becomes strong, but the color remains bright; during October and November, the tea has a more delicate flavor and is much lighter in appearance. There is no production of this tea between the months of December and February. When served, it is typically accompanied by lemon, with no cream.

EARL GREY

Ranked as the second most popular tea in the world, Earl Grey is flavored with the oils of citrus fruit and has a rather smoky undertone. It offers a floral bouquet, is bright in color and is typically served plain- although members of the black tea family are often served with cream. Of the various types of this tea, Russian Earl Grey is, perhaps, the most aromatic, and all varieties offer a Bergamot (bitter orange) taste - one of the trademarks of Earl Grey.

LADY GREY

This delicious tea is quite light in its presentation and pale gold in color, offering a refreshing citrus flavor which reflects the characteristics of orange, lemon and bergamot (bitter orange). Lady Grey is a favorite among those who enjoy what Earl Grey has to offer, but are interested in a lighter aroma and a milder taste. As in the case of its heavier counterpart, this tea should never be served with cream, but plain with no additives.

FORMOSA OOLONG

Amber in color with an almost piercingly sweet flavor and a toasty undertone, this tea - in its finer grades - offers a flavor that's suggestive of ripe peaches. The fragrant bouquet is attributed to its drying process - the leaves are sun-dried rather than dried in heated sheds. Often referred to as the champagne of teas, Formosa Oolong is full-bodied and smooth with a dry character and is typically served plain, with no accompaniment.



ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA

This is a rather robust tea - full-bodied and with a light floral presentation. Among tea drinkers, English Breakfast Tea is frequently referred to as having a coppery taste. When milk is introduced, the fragrance that it presents is one that is reminiscent of honeyed toast. This delightful tea - often associated with the early hours of the day - is actually a blend of a number of black teas from various countries and is particularly popular in England, where it has been considered a morning tea for over a century.

JASMINE

While this is typically touted as a Chinese green tea that's scented with Jasmine flowers, the best of the line contains no flowers at all and goes through the scenting process over ½ dozen times. This tea is often used to complement Chinese or Thai foods, since it offers a strong taste that blends quite well with spicy dishes. Jasmine tea should be enjoyed without the benefit of sugar or cream, as is true with others of the green tea variety.

CHAMOMILE

Derived from chamomile flowers, this tea is golden in color and offers a mild bouquet that's reminiscent of apples, as is its flavoring. Due to its herbal properties and soothing presentation, Chamomile tea is often used for stress relief, as well as a number of other conditions, such as insomnia, digestive complaints, sores, rashes and menstrual cramps. Those who have allergies to daisies, asters, chrysanthemums, ragweed and other members of the Compositae family should take this tea with caution, since there have been reports of allergic reactions - primarily in the areas of rashes and bronchial constriction.

LAVENDER

Redolent of the lavender flowers which make up this lovely tea, this herbal variety offers a light, sweet taste that is known to blend very well with mint. As with a number of other herbal drinks, Lavender tea is often used for the relief of stress, fatigue and headache. Taken before going to bed, this will help to provide a state of soothing relaxation and aid in combating insomnia. It is also known to be used in the treatment of migraines, digestive spasms and certain respiratory illnesses.

ROSEHIP

Made from the pods at the base of a rose, this fragrant tea is pinkish in color, with a tangy flavor that borders on tart. Since it inherently contains Vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as some natural antioxidants, Rosehip tea is often used for the relief of headaches and dizziness, and is thought to ward off bladder infections. Of these four vitamins, the Vitamin C content is the highest and, while oranges and their juices are thought to be a great source of Vitamin C, rosehips offer a significantly higher concentration.

ECHINACEA

Since this type of tea has a naturally strong medicinal flavor, additives are often used to make the drinking experience more pleasant. Among these are mint, ginger, licorice, honey, lemon and blends from other herbal teas. While it may not taste pleasant in its own right, it is noted for its pronounced medicinal powers in the area of fighting off illness - specifically those that affect the respiratory center, such as colds and flus. Due to Echinacea's natural anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibiotic properties, it also works to gird the immune system, which aids in staving off illness.

PEPPERMINT

This delightfully refreshing tea offers the taste and fragrance that are captured by its name. Used as a digestive aid, Peppermint tea is known to relieve the symptoms of bloating and indigestion, but should not be used by people who suffer from heartburn, as it may aggravate the symptoms. Due to its properties and characteristics, it is also great for relieving fatigue, the effects of sleeplessness and moodiness.

Whether tea is your beverage of choice due to its light, flavorful presentation or - in some cases - its medicinal benefits, it can be enjoyed at any time of the day or night. It is, in fact, often used as a nighttime sleeping aid, as opposed to its heavy, bitter counterpart - coffee.

© High Speed Ventures 2011