Have you ever read the ingredients on your favorite foods? Almost everything is filled with a bunch of junk that sounds like it was cooked up in some chemistry lab. Unfortunately, large food companies have found ways to reduce costs by substituting old fashioned, natural ingredients for lower priced chemical ones. The main problem I have is that this practice has become so prevalent that people assume teas are flavored in the same way. Fortunately, for any decent tea company, this is not true. Here are the 3 all natural ways that tea can be flavored.
You can flavor a tea by adding dried ingredients
Chai is a prime example of this. All you need to do in order to make Chai is add some dried ingredients, such as cardamom, clove and pepper. This flavoring method is ideal for foods that maintain their natural flavors after being dehydrated.
You can also “scent” teas
The basic way these teas are scented is by placing an aromatic flavor right next to the tea while it is drying. The most common scented tea is Jasmine tea. When Jasmine tea is drying, it is placed in racks where fresh jasmine flowers are placed directly above and below the tea. The flavor of these flowers is absorbed by the wet tea leaves, giving you a slightly flavored and fragrant cup of tea.
The third way is by adding “flavor essence”
Sometimes when foods are dried their flavors change. An example of this is Earl Grey tea. Earl Grey is flavored with an Italian citrus fruit called Bergamot. The problem is dried Bergamot does not have a good flavor. Flavoring the tea with “flavor essence” solves this. Flavor essence is a fancy term that refers to a highly concentrated flavor extract. While there are a few ways of creating these, the most common ways are by extracting the oils and flavors contained naturally in the fruit. While this sounds like chemicals, I can assure you it is not. The best way to think about it is a natural version of “pure vanilla extract.” Vanilla extract is used in baking all around the world and it is 100% natural.
The main reason for using flavor essence is due to the quality of flavor
Sometimes dried ingredients taste closer to their fresh versions. Sometimes they taste drastically different. If you have ever had dried coconut you would know that its taste strays far from fresh coconut. When this happens a flavor essence will give you a natural way of replicating that flavor and ultimately give you a tasty cup of tea.
If you buy from a reputable tea company, flavored teas are 100% all natural and as healthy as any other tea. It really is too bad that the large food companies have exploited the term "natural" because if you haven't tried flavored teas, you really are missing out.
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