To Flavor or Not To Flavor?

When I founded Tea Geek, one of the main ideas (beyond providing accurate, well-researched information with citations) was that I’d never carry a flavored/scented tea, and I’d never carry blended teas.  From what I’ve tasted, flavored teas typically scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to the tea base used, since the flavoring covers the taste of the tea.  And besides, if I’m going to drink tea, I want to taste tea.  If I want to taste Berry-Guava-Colada-Explosion or whatever, I’ll go get some fruit juice or soda or something.

However, I’m beginning to question part of that decision.

I still like the idea of no flavored/scented teas and want to stick to that for the most part.  However, two teas stick out as possible exceptions–both for economic and historic reasons.  These teas are jasmine green and Earl Grey.

Jasmine green tea is probably the oldest and most popular scented tea in the world.  It’s been made using different techniques over the years, but the combination of jasmine flowers and green tea is certainly old enough to call “traditional” (unlike some of the awful concoctions that pass for “tea” on grocery store shelves and tea shop jars).

Earl Grey, though not nearly as old as jasmine green, is certainly the oldest flavored tea of the European tradition.  And it’s still the most popular.  For Heaven’s sake, Jean Luc Picard of Star Trek fame drinks it–it can’t be that bad, right?

Well, in short, yes it can.  However, I’ve found an Earl Grey that balances the bergamot flavor with the tea itself.  Yes, you can actually taste the tea in it.  I have a couple of candidates (though no clear winner) on the jasmine green front.

What do you think?  Should I carry a jasmine and an Earl Grey?  They are certainly more popular than, say, a single-estate first flush Darjeeling or a winter harvest Alishan wulong.  But not nearly as geeky.  Would carrying these two mean Tea Geek was making a shrewd business move, or just selling out?  Give me some feedback–I’d like to hear what my readers and customers think!

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2 thoughts on “To Flavor or Not To Flavor?”

  1. Although I’m not generally partial to flavored teas, I do enjoy Earl Grey (haven’t tried jasmine green yet). So if you could find a really fine Earl Grey, I would certainly be interested!

  2. Michael, you’ll be making a shrewd business move. A 1st flush darjeeling, though t-geeky, might not appeal to everyone’s palate. To this date, I still cannot discern the muscatel flavour characteristic of a darjeeling. However, the aroma and the naturally refreshing taste of a Jasmine Green just jazz me up. While I agree that we need to draw the line somewhere for flavoured teas, too t-geeky might take the joy out of the tea.
    I’ve paired earl grey (good ones) with desserts and the bergamot and the tea just added distinctive tasty layers to the whole experience. Another one of my tea joys.

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