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Mar 24, 2007, 10:44 am

What is the most exotic tea you have ever tried?
(for me it was pomegranite mango, that didn't go so well)

Editado: Mar 24, 2007, 11:53 pm

I have, on occasion, succumbed to the attraction of the exotic description - something like a rare white tea, made from the newly budded leaves hand picked within an hour of sunrise in a certain week of a certain month, then gently sun-dried...etc, etc.
In each case, I've been disappointed in that the tea was less enjoyable than any of my favorite two or three black tea blends.

I have, however, worked hard on perfecting my loose tea brewing practices, and will again someday make another purchase of some rare, delicate, choice tea and just maybe, find that there is such an exotic out there that's worth the extra cost...maybe.


Mar 25, 2007, 9:11 am

osbaldistone, most people trying a white tea are disappointed first. The taste is a bit, I don't want to call it weak;... lets call it fine compared to the normal green tea. In fact it is a green tea except that the leaves are picked before they open totally and while they still have their white hair. It is still considerably more expensive and probable therefore more exotic than the normal green tea...
But back to the topic (sorry I get carried away sometimes): I tried a Lichee black tea I purchased yesterday from our local tea plantation. I just drank a few cups but I´m pretty satisfied with it.

Mar 26, 2007, 6:29 am

Most exotic is a flower tea (well tisane) I picked up in a market in China. It has no tea in it at all, just very tiny yellow flowers. Its more exotic than my pure orange chrysanthum tea and my rose bud tea, because at least for these I know what flowers are in them!

It has a plesant but not totally wonderful taste. Ever so slightly bitter.

Set 19, 2007, 8:39 pm

Two "exotics" that became favorites, both introduced to me by friends:

First, chrysanthemum flowers brewed with pu-ehr tea, which I first had at a Chinese dim sum house in Flushing, Queens.

Second, rooibos, (also called red tea), which is not really tea but a South African herbal. When I first tasted it, it was extremely difficult to find; but now even my local Stop & Shop carries it sometimes.

Set 20, 2007, 5:41 pm

>5 Karen5Lund:

I generally stay away from herbals - they tend to taste like grass and flowers, which doesn't do anything for me.

But rooibos is a different animal. Enough like tea for me and two other things going for it - 1) naturally caffiene free so I can drink a whole pot at bedtime, and 2) it's almost impossible to let it steep too long. Seven or eight minutes is just fine.

Try adding a little vanilla to your pot of rooibos. Not much - about 1/2 teaspoon in a 4-cup pot; maybe even less. Even if you normally sweeten your tea, a bit of vanilla may be all you need to add to rooibos.


Editado: Set 22, 2007, 8:01 pm

I don't know if this counts as exotic, but I found it very tasty.

I did black tea, green tea flavored with strawberries, and some strawberry herbals.
Sweetened with honey and poured over ice, it was unusual and tasty.

I make tea in a 4-cup pot in order to blend. I like to reduce caffeine, but don't care for herbal tea by itself. I usually use a combination of tea and herbals; I have found several wonderful combinations.

Set 28, 2007, 2:27 pm

< 4 Reading-fox, the flower tea you are describing sounds a lot like osmanthus. I was introduced to osmanthus at a Chinese tea shop in Seattle a few months ago. The tea shop brewed us a tisane of siberian rose buds and osmanthus which made for a delightful combination. I would say their blend was about 3/4 rose and 1/4 osmanthus. I enjoyed it so much I bought some of both to have at home.

I have also heard of osmanthus being brewed with black teas, but as I primarily drink greens I haven't tried this combination yet.

Set 28, 2007, 5:48 pm

ooh I've not tried it mixed. Maybe I should.

Out 19, 2007, 4:04 pm

There was a time when all tea was exotic. ^_~

Dez 29, 2007, 10:54 pm

Tibetan butter tea. (I managed to become quite fond of it!)

Jan 2, 2008, 3:35 pm

For Christmas, I bought for my wife two hand blended teas from Tay Tea in the Catskills of New York.

First was the Persian Rose, an earl grey tea blended with rose petals, rose buds, cardamom and borage. Second was Marry Me Again, a Ceylon black tea blended with violets, lavendar and purple cornflower. Both are utterly amazing and my wife claims they are the best gifts she has ever received. I highly recommend the teas, and she has gone and ordered two other blends which should be arriving shortly.

Fev 17, 2008, 4:09 pm

A new experience! I went to a Filipino restaurant in NYC with some friends yesterday and had flower tea for the first time. It was beautiful!

I've seen flower tea mentioned here before, which is what prompted me to try it. This restaurant serves it in wine glasses, one flower per glass. As the hot water is absorbed into the dried flower & tea, the whole thing unfolds into a flower and sinks to the bottom of the glass. (A pot of hot water is provided to refresh the drink.)

One friend thought it bland. The flavor is quite mild, but I found the aroma lovely. (Inhale deeply, then sip.) There's also the problem of little flower bits that come loose and get into your mouth. Keep the glass fairly well filled to keep the floating bits at the bottom and plenty of clear tea at the top.

That said, it is a wonderful treat for a tea-lover or anyone who enjoys unusual and exotic food and drink.


Fev 20, 2008, 2:00 am

I picked up a package of "Kudingcha" at the local Chinese/Taiwanese grocery a few months ago, attracted at first by the oddly twisted leaves and the smooth, green packaging. It's known as a "dieter's tea" and is made with holly rather than tea leaves. The instructions say to use one or two twisted sprigs per cup, so on my initial steeping I went ahead and used two. The taste is something I can only compare to what I imagine earwax must taste like, and no amount of sugar, stevia or other sweetener can make it taste any better. I still have the box and still occasionally drink it, but with one sprig only. The weaker tea is much easier to take, thank goodness.

Mar 20, 2008, 2:37 am

Today is the vernal equinox, so I went with some Japanese friends to a Buddhist (Soto zen) temple for a service, after which there was tea in the garden-viewing room, then a chance to write prayers with ink brush etc., and then, because we were obviously foreigners, we were invited to view the zen sitting hall itself (normally off limits) and then to have matcha in the hall below that area. Lots of fascinating moments and beautiful things, but what I wanted to tell you about was the first tea: We sat on tatami looking out at a pebble garden with a stone path through it laid out in a swastika (not the fascist one - the buddhist/chinese one), and beyond that a steep hill full of not yet blooming wild cherry trees and bamboo. The sweet was bean paste in a little round "bud" shape, coated with hard sugar crust. The "tea" was amazing: in the bowl it was nearly clear, with three little red bits swimming on the bottom, and a few green wisps of bitter lemon rind. I don't know what the tea was made of, but the first taste was salty, almost like consommé, and then came the surprise of citrus and the strange sour taste of shiso leaf (if you've tried umeboshi - it's that flavor). The tea was like the transition to spring itself.

Perhaps someone who knows about Japanese teas could enlighten us further.

Mar 20, 2008, 2:00 pm

Indeed, I hope so; but merely reading your description brings some of the pleasure of that transition closer.

Editado: Mar 22, 2008, 2:45 am

> 15

The only thing your description reminds me of is sakura "tea" (usually called sakura cha or cherry tea in Japanese, also sometimes known as sakura yu or sakura hot-water). See this eGullet thread for a description and discussion.

However, salty though sakura cha usually is, I've never seen it served with citrus rind (yuzu perhaps?) and shiso. So maybe this is completely unrelated to what you had. I'll have to ask my tea teacher. Or, come to think of it, the Coffee & Tea forum on eGullet might yield some answers!

While we're on the topic of sakura, I do love the salt-and-sweet taste of another traditional Japanese dessert, sakura mochi. It's often served on Hina-matsuri (Girls' Day or the Doll Festival) on March 3, for example. Yum...

Edited to add the links for eGullet

Mar 21, 2008, 7:29 pm

Does anyone have a recipe (or source) for coconut tea?

I had some really great coconut tea at Typhoon (a Thai restaurant in Portland) a couple of days ago. As far as I could tell, the tea was simply some kind of black tea with some chopped coconut added for the flavour. The result was delicious. I'm going to try making some at home using some shredded coconut.

P.S. Just discovered that Adagio sells a coconut tea here. It's made with Ceylon black tea and coconut. (No idea if that's what the restaurant served or whether they simply made their own.)

Mar 22, 2008, 2:02 am

Please let us know how it turns out - your own combination, or Adagio's. I love (real) coconut.

Isn't it odd how some of the foods you hate as a child can become adulthood's favorite flavors? I feel this way about several - pears and coconut among them. Though I admit, in both of those cases, textures I now enjoy were off-putting.

Thank you, chamekke, for the info and link on sakura cha (and sakura foods)! I really enjoyed reading about it. Nor am I surprised it was you to enlighten us. :) :) :) Admittedly, it makes me want to go check out the local Asian grocery in case they have anything... Next year, if not, I'll have to look farther afield - and sooner.

Editado: Mar 22, 2008, 2:53 am

>15 Nycticebus:

Found on a webpage called Types of Japanese Tea, where the mention of shiso caught my eye:

Again, this is a beverage made not from tea leaves but from soaking konbu (seaweed kelp) in hot water. Often konbucha is brewed and reconstituted into a powder which can be mixed with hot water. Sometimes it is flavored with shiso leaves. It has a rather salty taste and is considered to be healthful.

If you do a search on the kanji (昆布茶), you'll get some pictures, too. I found this one:

... accompanied by the words (in Google translation) "Gold leaf tea sweetened plums kelp".

Nycticebus, does this look anything like the "tea" you drank?

Mar 22, 2008, 5:54 am

goodness, what an interesting and delicious thread! The konbu cha sounds likely, but the tea I had was clear and not thick the way I assume that one is. Probably I was wrong about the shiso flavor, confusing it with something else. I'm thinking now that it was a form of sakura yu as chamekke suggests.

Funny, growing up in the US, I hated "cherry" flavored foods but in Japan it's a completely different thing. Just try to erase all associations with cough syrup, or even red cherries. Cherry here is much more true to the real tree, with its beautiful bark and wood, its tangy leaves, and complexly fragrant flowers. The fruits are almost an afterthought.

Perhaps associated with my aversion to "cherry" flavor, or perhaps just because I resented sentimental treatments of little girls, I have also regularly avoided the color pink in all its cutesy forms. Well, of course there's plenty of cute to go around in Japan, but pink in its sublime form is, well, sublime.

Hooray for sakura mochi!

Mar 26, 2008, 10:04 am

ok, I asked my friend, and she said the tea is called ume-kobu-cha. "It includes powdered dry umeboshi (pickled plum) and powdered dry konbu ( marine plant similar to kelp). We drink the tea, ume-cha or kobu-cha on happy occasions like new year days or wedding"

so yes, that's it.

Mar 26, 2008, 10:50 pm

Thank you for letting us know, Nycticebus!

Now I must get some... {plotting madly}

Set 8, 2008, 8:52 pm

This is a great thread. Nycticebus your description of this tea has made me want to race out and try it, which is odd because I would usually run far away from a salty tea.

Set 8, 2008, 9:00 pm

The oddest tea I've ever had was called "Heart of the Dragon." It was basically a green tea, with the leaves tied into a flowery bundle, with a rose at the center. When you brew the tea, the flower opens, and the rose looks just like a real heart (the beating, muscle kind - kind of creepy, but cool!).

Jun 6, 2010, 7:18 pm

Nycticebus, if two years later you are reading, one can also put a little square of konbu into green tea to flavor it -- the difficulkty is finding gourmette konbu -- have not seen it since leaving japan 12 years ago! The flavor is far better than any of the powdered variety . . .

Chamekke, i read about butter in tea in an old book by a Tibetan married to an English diplomat. Whilke i have had some brick-teas, i find a good black tea with fresh butter (no creme but with or without some sugar) tastes wonderful.

Ago 4, 2010, 10:35 pm

Konbucha ... ugh, I have a pretty bitter memory regarding this tea. When my son was 1 year old and being curious on everything on the table, he tried to drink konbucha. He wasn't standing steady and the cup was full, the tea was spilled on his collar bone to the torso. Because the tea is stickier than regular black tea, it stayed to burn him. He still has a burn mark on his front... ouch. But over this, it is still my favorite tea!! And black tea with butter ( I like it with a pinch of salt ) makes me rejuvinated.♪

Jan 10, 2011, 11:46 pm

I purchased some coconut rum tea in the Bahamas last April. It's...interesting. Honestly, I prefer using it in baking rather than drinking it as tea. I steep it in butter or cream that I plan on using in cookies or cupcakes.

Jan 17, 2011, 9:47 am

I brew my own kombucha. I've really grown a taste for it.

Other exotics I've had are:

A 20 year old pu-ehr. Delicious!

An herbal tea made from rose hips and sweet flag that I picked while camping on an island in the north woods of the Upper Midwest.

Editado: Nov 5, 2012, 9:38 am

I recently tried some ama cha, which is hydrangea leaves. It has a curious natural anise character, very worthy of a try if you come across it.

Now I just brought home some kudingcha to test, just because of its reputation for extreme astringency. (I thought it was non-caffeine but apparently teas from holly leaves always have it...) Earlier in the thread it was compared to earwax but my first thought was dishwashing liquid. I can't quite swear that I haven't just forgotten to rinse the teapot after washing it—a repeat study is required. It's not entirely displeasing, needs to be drunk very slowly in sporadic sips.