You probably have an arsenal of teas you like to drink regularly, but it doesn’t hurt to wake up your taste buds every now and then, right?
Ever wonder what weird teas and unusual herbal teas people drink around the world?
While some of us enjoy the bitter aftertaste of green tea, others prefer a more flavorful blend with woodsier undertones like oolong. But no matter where you come from, there is one thing we all have in common: we love tea in all its forms.
A slice of lemon loaf and a cup of Earl Gray tea is an unbeatable combo. But there’s an entire world of tea flavors you might be missing out on. From fermented yak butter tea, to cheese tea, and yerba mate, these unique tea flavors will take your palate to the next level.
So get out of your comfort zone and take a trip around the world with these unique herbal tea flavors from far away places like the Kashmir Valley, Tibet, China, and Argentina.
Cheese…and tea? Yup. It may sound like an unnecessary combination, but this beverage has a very unique and captivating flavor.
Cheese tea is a concoction made out of iced brewed matcha, black, or oolong tea topped with a frothy layer of milk, whipped cream, salt, and cream cheese.
It was born somewhere around 2010 in the Taiwanese night markets. In the beginning, the creators of the tea used a blend of powdered cheeses, whipped cream, and milk to achieve a frothy cream cheese topping.
The crowds absolutely loved it, and soon enough, cheese tea spread to China’s Guangdong province where it became all the rage. Over time, tea masters decided to switch to fresh cream cheese instead of the powdered version to give it an amazing flavor.
In case you’re wondering, cheese tea tastes kind of like dessert, but it has strong savory undertones that give it a unique spin. The top layer is reminiscent of a delicate cheesecake-flavored coat of whipped cream that sits on top of a nice cup of cold brew.
Noon Chai Tea or Pink Tea
Noon chai is an aromatic tea from the Kashmir Valley that’s rich, delicious, and pink! Made with a blend of aromatic spices, gunpowder tea, milk, baking soda, and pistachios, noon chai tea gets its distinctive creamy citrusy flavor thanks to an unusual ingredient: sea salt.
Unlike other traditional teas, the process of making noon chai requires a lot of time (and patience!) Green tea leaves need to be brewed in baking soda for about 45 to 90 minutes to obtain a unique red brown extract known as “tueth”.
Noon Chai is also called Kashmiri tea. If you’d like to try making this exotic tea at home, check out my Kashmiri tea recipe.
The liquid is then diluted with water and mixed with milk and salt, which gives it that unique shade of pink. But the process is worth it. Once you take a sip of noon chai, your taste buds will never forget it!
Fermented Yak Butter Tea
Fermented yak butter tea is a creamy beverage that has been around for centuries. It’s one of the most popular teas in Tibet, a region known for its freezing temperatures.
While it may have an unusual name, it’s actually quite tasty and even healthy! Fermented yak butter tea is made by boiling a large brick of black tea (preferably from a region in Tibet called Pemagul) with some water to produce an earthy brew called chaku.
After stirring it for a while, the tea acquires a stew-like consistency. Then, a mix of salt, yak butter, and milk are added to it. The entire process can take up to 12 hours or more. Today, Tibetans speed up the process by using a blender.
Due to its high calorie count, many Tibetans drink butter tea during the winter to stay warm. As far as the flavor goes, fermented yak butter tea has a distinctive flavor with a hint of salt, and is a lot thicker than traditional teas.
Panda Dung Tea
Looking for one of the most expensive teas on the planet? Well, you found it! With a name like that, you wouldn’t think people would be willing to pay around $35,000 per pound. But why is panda dung tea so expensive? And is it really made out of panda you-know-what?
While there isn’t any panda excrement in the tea, the farmers do use it to fertilize the soil where the tea leaves are grown. As it turns out, pandas can only absorb about 30% of the vitamins and minerals in their diets, which makes their excrement an excellent fertilizer for plants.
While this unique concoction is an acquired taste for some, panda dung tea has a rich nutty flavor.
Yerba mate is a traditional South American drink that’s been around for centuries. It’s made from the twigs and leaves of the yerba mate tree and has a unique flavor profile that’s unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.
This tea-like infusion is mostly popular in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and in certain parts of Brazil. With strong earthy and bitter undertones, mate is served in a hollowed out gourd, and the liquid is sipped through a metal straw known as bombilla.
Yerba mate is an important symbol of togetherness and friendship in Argentina, as the mate is traditionally passed around among friends and family who all share the same straw. While some might gawk at the idea of sharing a straw with a bunch of people, it’s a crucial cornerstone of Argentinian culture.
Blue Tea or Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
Blue tea, also known as Butterfly pea flower tea, is an infusion that turns blue when you brew the petals (or sometimes, even the entire flower) of the beautiful Clitoria ternatea plant.
Since the petals are highly pigmented, the Clitoria ternatea plant has been used to dye cotton, rice, and all sorts of regional delicacies. Can you imagine the beautiful blue color? If you want to know how to tea dye fabric with blue tea, the instructions are the same as with regular tea dying.
This colorful plant is typically found in South East Asian countries, but over the past few years, it has become increasingly popular all over the world. This unique beverage has a delightful flowery taste that pairs well with lemon and honey. Surprisingly, when you add a zest of lemon, the tea will change colors and turn purple.
Unusual Tea Flavors Are in the Eye of the Beholder
If you’re ready to take your tea adventuring to the next level, try one of these interesting, weird herbal teas. I could see trying one of these if I was actually travelling, but I think that at home I’ll stick to my tried and true tea favorites!