After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. People drink it for a variety of reasons. Some like it for the taste and some like it because it can relieve a sore throat or a cold. Some like it because it’s healthy, some like it because it is refreshing on a hot summer day.
One thing can be certain. Everyone likes it differently.
Here are 33 different ways you can make drinking tea a little more exciting.
- Agave Nectar
- Coconut Milk
- Lemon Peel
- Orange Peel
- Vanilla Extract
- Star Anise
- Fennel Seeds
- Bay Leaf
- Toasted Rice
- Toasted Barley
- Jasmine Flowers
- Osmanthus Flowers
- Fruit Jam
Any breakfast tea will definitely go well with milk. This includes any basic black tea, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast, Scottish breakfast, Assam, Chai, Ceylon, and Earl Grey. Ideally, you will want to use hot milk. If you pour cold milk into hot tea, the milk proteins will scald. Another tip would be adding milk to the cup first before adding tea. If you add milk into tea, it causes the tannins to precipitate out. As a result, you stain your cup and change the flavour. Try it for yourself and find out.
Brown sugar has a stronger flavour compared to white refined sugar because of the molasses in it. Brown is healthier than white. Both complement tea although too much brown can overpower the taste of tea. Iced teas, chai, and most black tea variants are some of the types that go well with brown sugar. Anything goes with white.
Still prefer your tea sweet? Add honey instead of sugar. Honey is a great source of carbohydrates, and it sweetens without adding any preservatives or additives to your tea. You certainly don’t have to be a tea or honey connoisseur to test unique honey-tea combinations. Also, when you add flavor to your tea with honey, it will have a lower effect on your insulin and glucose levels. However, honey should not be heated to more than 50°C/122°F in order to retain the flavour compounds. It’d be wise to let the tea cool down a bit before adding honey.
Cure your taste for sugar with Stevia. The leaves contain an immense amount of non-caloric, non-toxic molecules that provide more than 30 times the sweetness of sugar and yet it is not sugar. Some of the major health benefits of this healthy herb includes nourishing the pancreas and helping to regulate blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure. Experiment until you get the amount of Stevia just right for yourself.
Agave is ideal for sweetening hot beverages like tea and especially cold drinks such as iced tea. It’s 1.5 times sweeter than sugar and it is a natural food, just like how honey is. Although it is high in fructose, agave is still considered low glycemic because of its natural unprocessed form. The ideal way to use agave nectar is to use it the same way as a you would for sugar and cut your usual portion by half.
Creamy, frothy and delicious, coconut milk goes perfectly well with chai and green tea. The natural ingredients, especially the nourishing fat from the coconut milk, will give you a true burst of energy. Also, you could use cinnamon sticks as a stirrer to keep them from sitting on top. If you have more coconut milk than you need, freeze them into ice cubes for easy and convenient future use.
Although available throughout the year, the fragrant, sweet and warm taste of cinnamon is a perfect spice to use during the winter months. It is anti inflammatory, antimicrobial, regulates blood sugar and the scent boosts brain function. Cinnamon tea is very easy to make. All you need to do is put a stick of cinnamon, broken into pieces, or half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder into the cup of your favourite tea.
I kid you not but lemon peel actually contains more than 5 times the vitamins and minerals found in lemon juice. Yeap, that’s what you’ve been wasting. It aids in the prevention of arthritis, osteoporosis, helps reduce oxidative stress and even fights cancer. The best way to enjoy the fresh, zesty flavour of lemon peel is to simply grate and sprinkle some over your tea.
Orange peel has a very fragrant, citrusy aroma and is very refreshing when added to a cup of tea. Moreover, it helps fight a cold and aids digestion. Simply grate and sprinkle some over your tea.
Cloves may look tiny but they are packed with nutrition. They are antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic. They’re filled with antioxidants and are good sources of minerals (especially manganese), omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and vitamins. Cloves taste a little like cinnamon and a little like nutmeg as well. Because cloves are pretty strong and distinctive, adding clove alone to tea will generally give the tea more of a “spiced” character, even if you do not add any other spices. Goes really well with strong black teas like chai, assam, and dark, roasted oolongs.
Ginger is widely used throughout the world for treating loss of appetite, nausea, flatulence, stomach upset, colic, morning sickness and motion sickness among others. When it comes to tea, you can either use fresh or dried ginger. Fresh ginger can be overwhelming and provides a bite, suitable for fresher blends of tea. Dried ginger imparts more body and less bite, hence it goes better with more earthy, warming blends. Fresh ginger should be cut thin because it infuses slowly. No matter fresh or dried, ginger goes really well with black or green tea.
You could definitely add it to your tea. Go with a light touch though. A teaspoon of vanilla can season a whole cake. Goes well with orange tea, Earl Grey, and adds a silky texture to oolongs.
Because of its high eugenol content (60-75%), allspice shares the attributes of cloves. It also tastes a little like cinnamon and nutmeg. Allspice relieves flatulence, aids digestion and its oil is mildly antiseptic and anaesthetic. Goes really, really well with chai or by itself.
Cardomon is very strong and aromatic. It has a spicy, herbal, citrusy character and goes very well with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and other aromatic spices. It has many health benefits from detoxification, oral health, digestion, etc. Just add two crushed cardamom pods into the teapot when brewing. The tea and cardamom will infuse over time. If the pods are old, you might need more. Commonly used with chai.
Star Anise closely resembles anise, which tastes like a cross between fennel, tarragon and licorice. It isn’t sweet or sour, or particularly spicy per se despite it being a spice. Goes really well with cinnamon and chai.
Fennel seeds brew up a tasty, licorice flavored tea. Great by itself, or as a flavorful addition to other herbal blends. For those who have trouble with poor digestion, gas and bloating, a simple cup of fennel tea after a heavy meal can be the simplest and most effective remedy. As a rule of thumb, use 1 teaspoon of crushed seeds for each pot of tea. Again, fennel seeds go exceptionally well with black tea, especially chai.
Nutmeg stimulates your brain, is an effective sedative and provides indigestion relief. Just ½ a teaspoon to a pot will do. Goes well with black tea, especially chai. Be careful, as too much will give you a kind of high you won’t enjoy.
Coming from the same plant, nutmeg and mace have a warm and aromatic taste. Mace has more hints of pepper and clove with a touch of lemon. The flavor and appearance of mace are also slightly softer than that of nutmeg, making it preferable for lighter teas. Although mace has less calories compared to nutmeg, it has more concentrations of essential oils, vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenes, iron, and calcium. Best enjoyed freshly grated to a cup of black tea.
Bay leaf tea is everything a spiced tea should be. Tasty, simple, and soothing. Just boil water in a teapot or small saucepan and add five or six freshly dried or frozen bay leaves. Once the water is golden brown in color, it is ready to pour. The darker the color is, the stronger the bay leaf flavor will be.
Making home brewed mint tea is very simple. For iced tea, just take a few fresh leaves and put them into a pitcher with about 5 regular tea bags. Fill with boiling water, steep, and then remove the bags and leaves. Sweeten if you like, and pour over ice. Remember to crush the mint leaves first as it will release all the essential oils. You can use orange pekoe or black tea for traditional iced tea or experiment with fruit flavors like passion fruit, peach, mango, and pomegranate which are especially nice without sugar. How many leaves you put in your tea all depends on how much of a essence of mint you want.
Genmaicha, the Japanese name for green tea combined with toasted rice. The roasted rice adds a nutty flavor and aroma that combines perfectly with green tea. Glutinous rice yields the best genmai but Japanese rice is cheaper and commonly found everywhere. You can either get genmaicha commercially in stores or you can try making toasted rice yourself and then combining it with sencha.
Wheatgrass, the young grass of the common wheat plant, strengthens the body’s immune system and has been touted as a cure for many ailments including cancer. It is commonly found in either powder or paste form, making it easy to add to your cup of tea. You can also drink it by itself.
Also known as mugicha in Japan, maicha in China and boricha in Korean, toasted barley tea is chock full of antioxidents and improves blood flow. It’s caffeine free, with a strong nutty taste, but less astringent than tea from tea leaves. You can easily make toasted barley tea by simmering 2 tablespoons of roasted barley in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes.
Almost every Jasmine tea is mixed with oolong or green tea. Dried jasmine flower is used to give it the refreshingly sweet fragrance and flowery aroma. If you have Jasmine flowers in your garden, simply pluck a few and rinse. Jasmine is potent so it won’t take a lot of flowers to reach your desired effect. After rinsing, lay some foil on a pan and lightly bake them at 150°F/65°C or lower for only a few minutes as this is only to dry them. Lay them out on a paper towel and allow them to wither before adding to tea or you can also steep it just by itself.
Osmanthus is a wonderful flower with a fruity-floral overpowering scent from the moment you open the packet, and a rich buttery taste as a beverage. It functions well as a natural sweetener to sweeten and polish off rough edges of robust teas like green and oolong tea. A rule of thumb is to add 1 unit of osmanthus for every 5 unit of tea leaves.
If you love the aroma of roses, you are going to love rose scented black or green teas. Roses are basically bold and sharp, and able to hold its own even against powerful base teas. You can get them by the bulk from Mexican stores. Rose petals go best with loose-leaf tea compared to pre blended ones.
Chrysanthemum tea is very popular in East Asia, especially in China where it was first drunk during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Dried chrysanthemum flowers are usually steeped in a teapot of hot water with rock sugar added. The resulting drink is yellow in color with a floral aroma. In China, chrysanthemum is believed to aid in the recovery from flu, sore throat, and fever. In Korea, it is used as a pick-me-up to render the drinker more awake.
Yes, it may seem weird to you. Jam is meant for bread and crescent rolls and such, not hot water but adding jam to tea is very popular in Russia. It is called kompot and the Russians use it to sweeten the tea in place of sugar or honey. Even in Korea, they have ready made jam tea where you just have to scoop a teaspoonful and stir it into a cup of hot water. It comes in many flavours like citron, quince, jujub, ginger, etc. Moreover, it’s gelatin free.
Pandan leaves are used widely in Southeast Asian cooking as flavoring. They have a nutty, botanical fragrance which enhances the taste and flavour of drinks. The leaves are used either fresh or dried, and are commercially available in frozen form in Asian grocery stores in cities where the plant cannot grow (anywhere below zone 9). Just a single long leaf tied into a knot will do wonders to a teapot of green/black tea.
There are 2 rules to mixing tea and whiskey. Firstly, it’s about enhancing the tea’s flavour with whiskey and not vice versa. Secondly, use good but not great whiskey as the expensive stuff is wasted when used as a flavoring for something else. As a rule of thumb, pour 1 shot of whiskey for each quart/liter of tea. Experiment and you’ll come to love the combinations you can make. For example, smoked lapsang souchong tea goes excellently with Laphroaig. Both smokey and complement each other like salt and pepper.
Brandy is very common in tea. Long ago, there used to be a special kind of spoon used for burning brandy in tea. You put the spoon on top of the tea and fill it with brandy. The tea warms the brandy, and you set it on fire. Before all the alcohol is burned away, you dunk the spoon into the tea and mix it to get the ‘toasted’ brown-sugar taste. You can do it with a tablespoon or soup spoon but it doesn’t hold as much.
Ahoy! Rum goes well with anything, especially iced tea, and with some tropical punch. Dark rum gives tea a little more depth while light rum perks up the fruitiness.
A steaming cup of tea may not always soothe your nerves. Amaretto, a sweet, almond-flavoured, Italian liqueur made of a base of apricot pits and/or almonds, goes well with tea. Serve it hot during winter months or serve it ice cold in summer months. You can also serve it with whipped cream for thickness and a little extra sweetness.