DukeGus said

Scented vs Not-Scented tea

I’m always thinking about that and I guess this is the right place to talk about it :)

This comparison is too general I agree.
l have a (mis?)conception in my mind, that scented tea is inferior to “pure” tea, when considering very good-top quality of each.

My experience of scented (usually bagged) tea is kind awful. 99% of the tea in Greece is big multinational corp(lipton etc) branded tea usually awful quality(blended or scented).
When someone wants to drink tea that’s what it is. If you search the Greek tea market there are just a couple of shops in all Greece that trade loose leaf tea and it’s always overpriced and always very… mediocre.

When I first tried Chinese loose leaf tea from the internet, and slowly tasted better and better quality, I got amazed by the huge difference in quality comparing to scented tea(or any other tea I had tried…). The huge variety of flavors/aromas surprised me too. Different oxidation levels, baking(roasting) levels, type of tea, aging etc. gives totally different result. Just from those 2-3 top leaves of the plant, nothing more!!!

So firstly I’m voting for not-scented, whole leaf tea.
Secondly I’m asking, is there really any scented tea that can match the quality of that tea or is scented tea just a way to make mediocre tea leaves interesting?

20 Replies

I would say that a good percentage of the tea in the US is also from big corporations like lipton, but I don’t know how it is in Greece. Maybe you have it worse? I do live near NYC though and you can get anything there so I’m pretty spoiled.

To your question about scented tea, I don’t think scent is only for masking inferior tea. While it’s true that some sellers will add flavor or scents for the purpose of enticing more tea drinkers, others add scents for flavors in order to create a new and quality experience. For example, jasmine tea has long been a favorite in China and the quality of the leaves used can vary from bad to awesome. I’ve had some wonderful jasmine green teas where the leaves on their own would have been pleasure enough, but the scent adds another dimension and experience. It can be wonderful.

Of course, I’ve also had flavored teas where I wouldn’t touch the leaves because they’d be too harsh without the vanilla/strawberry/whatever flavor mixed in. On the bright side, I can enjoy these teas for less money.

I think flavoring tea is a separate skill from creating wonderful “plain” teas. They can both be appreciated and enjoyed. Naturally, people have their preferences and that’s great. The makes more variety for all of us. :)

If you’re interested in trying awesome scented teas, maybe others can help you out. Perhaps it’ll help you to discover what you love. More experience can’t hurt, right? I lovelovelove trying things with flavor or scent, but in the end, I still prefer the unscented/unflavored kind.

Welcome to Steepster, by the way!

DukeGus said

“On the bright side, I can enjoy these teas for less money.”

Well I guess I could say that at the beginning of my tea learning experience, but now I really can’t even taste bad tea. I have a pretty small budget and I guess good quality tea is quite addictive so I don’t experiment with scented teas. ^ ^

Of course I’m interested in trying good scented tea and I love having more tea experiences :)
My only experience with a good quality scented tea was with Chinese Jasmine tea. It’s a fragrant and light style and I guess you can’t compare teas of different styles though I would enjoy more a vegetal green or a flowery light oolong.

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“So firstly I’m voting for not-scented, whole leaf tea.
Secondly I’m asking, is there really any scented tea that can match the quality of that tea or is scented tea just a way to make mediocre tea leaves interesting?”

First of all, like Mercuryhime, I want to welcome you to Steepster.

Second… I have to disagree with your statement that I quoted above. Not all scented (or flavored) tea is in tea bags. And there are some unflavored and unscented teas in teabags too. What I would suggest is to vote no on the teabag, and not so much on unscented or unflavored tea entirely because there are some really incredible loose leaf scented and/or flavored teas out there. If you are lucky enough to find the reputable tea artisans, you will find that the tea used to make scented and/or flavored teas is of high quality and tastes very good on its own.

I personally enjoy all types: unflavored, scented, and flavored. I would prefer loose leaf over bagged tea, however, there are even some decent tea bags out there too, you just have to know where to look. And… yes, in your journey with tea (which I hope will be a long and happy one!) you will come across a tea or two (or maybe even more) that is not as pleasant as others you’ve tried.

DukeGus said

Thx for welcoming me, I’m reading Steepster for some time without talking!

I understand that there are scented teas that are not in bags :)

I really would love to try a scented tea that matched the fragrance, taste, mouthfeel, aftertaste of a good unscented tea. I would love that because I would have discovered another amazing tea :)
I really like that there is more variety with scented teas though as you understand I’m really at an adventure to find one I will love!

*The journey is amazing this far though it’s a bit expensive :(

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Here is something I wrote before about traditional processing of Chinese jasmine green tea:
http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2010/11/traditional-processing-of-jasmine-green.html

I haven’t sampled a lot of them, but I heard there are some nice all natural flavored tea in US market too. No matter what the origin the tea is and what flower/fruit serves as the scent/flavor source, I believe “natural” is the key. Artificial oil based scenting/flavoring can hardly, if possible at all, simulate the natural mix of aromas and concentration level. To make it worse, a lot of fragrant oils have a flavor distinguishably different from the real thing.

But overall I think scented/flavored tea ranges from very good to very bad, just as unflavored tea ranges from very good to very bad.

DukeGus said

nice blog and post :thumbs up:

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DukeGus said

Thank you for the replies, it’s nice and enlightening to read your thoughts.
Here in Greece I don’t have anyone enjoying tea and talking about stuff like this.

Maybe I guess I haven’t met a very good quality scented tea…any suggestions?

Dinosara said

For flavored teas with a very high quality tea base I recommend you check out Verdant Teas’ new Alchemy Blended Line: http://verdanttea.com/shop/alchemy-label-blended-tea/

They’re specifically designed so the flavoring complements the tea base instead of masking it like some lower quality teas. I’ve tried three of them and they were all excellent. And they have a $5 flat rate for international shipping.

DukeGus said

Looks a nice web site and people, have you tried any other of their teas?

Dinosara said

Yes, I have tried their oolongs (excepting the new harvest of the Tieguanyin, which is on my to-order list), and they are all amazing. Verdant is consistantly highly rated and beloved on Steepster so I don’t think you can go wrong with any of their teas.

DukeGus said

I always think it’s best to buy Chinese tea from Chinese people-companies(or any country’s products) that’s why I have never bought tea from USA company, though the guys running this one looks that they love tea.

That’s another thing I would like to discuss sometime, if you care more
a. to get the best quality tea
b. to give more money to farmers

Dinosara said

I know that David works directly with the farmers that grow his tea, for the exact reason to ensure the two points you mention are met. He even tells the farmers about all the rave reviews the teas get so that they know how much their tea is loved here in the states!

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I’m an advocate of “plain” tea as well, bagged or otherwise. In fact, I might be the only indigenous Briton who hates bergamot (see Earl Grey). In my opinion, tea must be earthy and naturale. Scented teas trigger my ‘chemical’ radar as well. What are they attempting to cover up using scent, I wonder?

DukeGus said

“I might be the only indigenous Briton who hates bergamot (see Earl Grey)”

ha ha hahha

Didn’t people in Britain used to love Chinese tea and even named Oriental Beauty(one of my favorites…)?

chaijeeyah said

I’m not a Briton but I sure hate bergamot in Earl Grey :) I agree that heavily perfumed teas would be very inferior if tried without the perfume.

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Surely! Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II came up with that name. Technically that specific tea is from Taiwan but it’s still Chinese, I guess. I don’t get into geopolitics. :)

DukeGus said

Yap Taiwanese, I think they are my favorite…
Recently I tried again a sample of one called Gui Fei or something, medium oxidation-light roast oolong, I really love this combo.

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Slurp said

I definitely agree with a lot of what has been said above. When I started getting serious about tea, only the unadulterated leaf would do. No additional scent needed, thank you. The scent must only be a way to hide inferior tea. And I enjoyed some wonderful tea and some not so wonderful. It wasn’t until someone who was drinking a good quality scented tea and allowed me to sample it that I realized I was cutting myself off from some nice tea experiences equal to anything that had filled my cup before. Now I’m an equal opportunity tea drinker and will give anything a try. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

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DukeGus said

“It wasn’t until someone who was drinking a good quality scented tea and allowed me to sample it that I realized”

I think that’s the only way to happen, isn’t it?
I wish I had a friend in Greece who drank that kind of tea :) :)

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seule771 said

I have read but have not comprehended. Sorry.

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