Have you ever heard the story about precious panda dung tea that sold for around $3,500 for 50 grams? Did you know that some tea producers use edible 24-karat gold flakes to decorate their tea buds? Yes, all these things are happening around us while many of us sip our regular cups of green or black tea. The world of tea is already diverse but the world of exotic tea flavors are just as diverse and even more exciting.
What Are Exotic Teas?
The world of tea is incredibly diverse and versatile; therefore, there are many uncommon tea types around us which we may have never heard of. Like any other tea, exotic tea originates from the buds of the tea plant, but it's made unique by the region where it grows, the age of the tea plant, or its processing style. You may also have seen some teas which are rare because they are specific to a particular region, came from a different tea variety, or have a unique manufacturing process.
Furthermore, some of these teas are extremely rare and are only produced in small quantities. As such, some tea farmers offer these exotic teas only during specific harvesting seasons or perhaps only once a year. Because of their rare nature, exotic teas often possess supreme flavors, aromas, and colors that tea connoisseurs worldwide would adore and cherish. We prefer to describe tea as the “Wine of Asia” and similarly to wine, these exotic teas can get incredibly pricey!
Famous Teas All Around The Globe
Da Hong Pao or Red Robe Oolong tea from China was treated as an incredibly rare or exotic until very recently. Farmers were able to harvest this type of tea from an ancient plot of tea trees in the mountains. The flavor of this tea is much more mineral in taste than other types of Oolong and this is due to the environment in which it was grown. Sometimes, these exotic tea flavors could be somewhat complicated to understand, mostly because of their highly diverse nature. Let's now look at some classic examples of teas from various countries, which are considered a staple in those regions but perhaps not as well known around the world.
England: English Breakfast Tea
English breakfast tea, or the breakfast tea, is a classic beverage that is well- known in the world of tea. This tea originates from the British tea culture and plays an essential role in British dining even today. The tea is a traditional black tea blend made to be thick and robust yet flavorful. The black teas from Assam, Ceylon, or Kenya are ideal for creating this English breakfast tea blend. The exotic tea flavors of English breakfast are full-bodied, robust, and rich due to their strong flavor profile. The traditional cup of English breakfast tea includes milk and sugar to create the perfect balance, making it an essential drink for the breakfast table. Some exclusive breakfast tea blends even use Chinese Keemun tea, which is more upscale and expensive.
France: French Vanilla Tea
French vanilla tea is a lesser known flavor profile from France, combining robust black tea with creamy vanilla flavor. The combination results in a distinctive tea with a soothingly creamy vanilla flavor that is smooth and addictive. Some tea producers tend to add a dash of rose flavor or rose petals into this classic treat to give it extra elegance. The tea carries a sensational flavor profile that you can enjoy pure or with a dash of milk and sugar.
Morocco: Moroccan Mint Tea
Moroccan mint tea is a leading cultural tea among exotic tea flavors and has been rising in popularity among many tea-drinking communities especially due to its refreshing flavor profile. This is a traditional tea from the Northern African region and typically contains green tea, spearmint leaves, and sugar as its core ingredients. Unlike regular teas, the Moroccan mint serving style carries some ceremonial aspects. Usually, the leading male of the family prepares this tea as a gesture to welcome special guests. Moroccan mint tea has a relatively strong flavor profile and a pungent minty character.
Turkey: Apple Spice Tea
Apple spice tea is a traditional recipe with a strange yet delicious flavor profile in this region of the world. This exotic tea from Turkey combines apples, cinnamon, ginger, and black tea as core ingredients. Since its inception, many creative recipes with complex elements have been developed over time. The tea expresses a delightful apple character, with complex layers of cinnamon and ginger unfolding in the background. It has a delicious flavor combination so you can enjoy this as a plain brew or with a dash of sweetener such as brown sugar or honey. This makes for a perfect afternoon tea during the cold season.
Jamaica: Honey Hibiscus Tea
Jamaica’s Honey Hibiscus tea is an excellent option for those looking for a non-caffeinated yet delicious drink. This tea combines dried or fresh hibiscus flowers with honey and lemon, resulting in a ruby-red brew. It is ideal for making iced tea and contains a subtle tangy flavor that is both refreshing and appealing. This tea offers a perfect beverage solution for those looking for a late night tisane tea that wouldn’t keep you up at night from the caffeine. Check out our article tisane tea benefits to learn more about tisane teas.
China: Pomegranate Green Tea
Pomegranate green tea is a highly sought-after tea innovation among green tea lovers. As you may predict, the tea delivers a subtle green tea character surrounded by refreshing fruity and tart pomegranate hints. It is ideal as an afternoon tea or refreshing iced tea for your afternoon tea time.
Japan: Lemon Honey Green Tea
Lemon and honey green tea is a classic combination, yet its popularity never declines. Centuries ago, this tea evolved as a home remedy rather than a beverage for enjoyment. However, today this has received recognition from around the world as a soothing tea and a treat for sore throats among many households. The flavors are very appealing, with prominent citrusy hints merged with the underlying sweetness of honey.
India: Orange Black Tea
Orange black tea is a simple fusion of black tea and zesty oranges. The flavors are refreshing here, and the enjoyment begins with its zesty aroma, even before you sip the tea. When you enjoy this tea, citrus flavor notes are prominent. However, smooth black tea hints merge well to present a sensational cuppa.
What Is The Most Expensive Tea In The World?
Many exotic tea flavors come to us with a hefty price tag! Some of these teas are produced in minimal quantities or come with rare flavor combinations to earn their exclusive title. If we take Da Hong Pao or Red Robe Oolong as examples, these teas were once valued as the most expensive teas in the world due to their authentic mother plants. The original Da Hong Pao tea leaves come from centuries-old tea gardens located in the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian, China. Due to these original mother plants, the tea is valued at thousands of dollars for only a few grams, yet tea lovers were willing to pay the price. Likewise, there are many other expensive teas around us. Let's learn about a few such teas and their flavor profiles.
Exotic Tea Flavors: Insect Poop Tea
This could be the most unusual tea you’ve ever heard of! But believe it or not, such tea does exist, and it is rumored to be delicious too. As the name suggests, insect poop tea or moth poop tea is derived from the feces of insects that feed on tender tea leaves. Even though the name doesn't sound appealing, the tea leaves go through a fermentation phase inside the digestion tract of the moth larva, turning it into a fermented tea. Some Chinese and Thai natives collect these feces particles and dry them to convert them into tea. This exotic tea comes with a pearl shape appearance and fresh, fragrant flavor profile, which is appealing, according to the tea experts.
Exotic Tea Flavors: Panda Poop Tea
Don't be misled by the name, as this tea does not come from the poop of pandas. Instead, farmers use panda poop as fertilizer to grow this tea under exclusive conditions. Even though the processing style follows standard techniques, the specialty comes from this tea's organic and exclusive nature and perceived health benefits. When looking at prices, this tea ranks among the most expensive teas in the world, at nearly $200 per cup. This tea is a classic example of how exotic tea flavors can sometimes be really pricey!
Exotic Tea Flavors: Insect-Bitten Tea
The story of insect-bitten tea comes from Taiwan and is truly fascinating. When the tea plants or leaves get infected by certain insects or leafhoppers, the tea plant develops certain compounds as a part of its natural defense system. These compounds later become responsible for generating specific flavor profiles in the teas produced. Tea types such as Oriental Beauty (Dong Fang Mei Ren) and Gui Fei are rare examples and often in very high demand due to their exotic flavor profile. These teas impart subtle honey and fruity flavor notes that are valued by tea connoisseurs worldwide.
Exotic Tea Flavors: Monkey Picked Tea
With all these unusual tea names, you must have begun to worry. But don’t worry, monkeys do not harvest these teas! The name monkey-picked tea is merely poetic, yet this tea is a type of oolong tea originating from Anxi county, Yunnan, China. The flavors of this tea are heavily complex and include hints of roasted nuts, caramel, along with fruit and honey undertones. The smooth and clean brew makes the tea so unique and exotic.
Exotic Tea Flavors: Da Yu Ling
This highly-prized premium oolong tea is a rare jewel among Taiwanese oolong teas. This tea ranks among the top teas of Taiwanese oolongs due to its wonderful fragrance and flavor profile. Da Yu Ling peaks at 2600 meters above sea level and is the highest tea farm are in Taiwan. The tea farm is located in the Lishan mountain range which is known to have high quality teas. The exotic tea flavors that come out are very light fresh vegetal notes with very lighter-bodied liquor and a smooth finish. The tea is also produced in limited volumes due to the high mountain range, making it exclusive and pricey.
Exotic Tea Flavors: Pu'erh
For those familiar with the tea world, Pu’erh isn’t much of an exotic tea but for those that are just diving into the world of tea, this tea will change your whole understanding of how teas taste. The unique and exotic flavors of this tea will leave you loving or hating it. Pu’erh is a Chinese aged tea and follows a very specific processing and fermenting style. The fermentation significantly changes the flavor profile of the tea leaving it with more earthy, mushroom and wet wood notes. Sometimes Pu’erh comes in a cake style finish and other times it is processed as a loose leaf. Pu'erh is one of six major types of tea and a must-try tea for beginners. This tea can also be expensive sometimes, depending on the method used to age the tea and how long the tea has been aged or preserved.
Learn more about the types of tea in our different types of tea article.
Exotic Tea Flavors: Salted Sakura Tea
Salted Sakura Tea is a unique tisane and a tea that many of us dream of sipping. This might be the prettiest tea among the many exotic tea types and can remind you of springtime. Sakura tea derives from whole sakura flowers which are preserved with the help of salt. You must steep these preserved flowers in hot water to create an excellent cup. Furthermore, while brewing it, you can even witness the flowers bloom inside the warm cup of water. A truly delicious and delicate treat among many exotic tea flavors. This tea symbolizes the elegance of Japanese tea culture and how much it has transformed throughout history.
Final Thoughts on Exotic Tea Flavors
The world of exotic tea flavors is genuinely fascinating. These teas come from all across the globe and conjure a diverse set of emotions towards the type of tea. Some of the teas may have supreme flavor profiles, colors, and aromas, which contribute to their hefty price tag. Some exotic teas have emerged because it is significant to the country’s historical culture, while others are exotic because of the processing methodology or unique region it is grown in. One thing in common is that these exotic teas often have limited quantities and this is mostly due to their production restricted to a particular season or region. These reasons have made the teas become rare and tea enthusiasts are willing to pay a lot extra to enjoy these limited flavors. We at Tea J Tea are true fans of these exotic teas, and we dream of sharing these tea jewels with you in the future. Stay tuned!