collection of loose leaf tea

    Published: January 29, 2016

    Celebrate National Hot Tea Month with these Unique Flavors

    Filtered water takes tea from tasty to delicious

    January is National Hot Tea Month, so if you haven’t put on the kettle yet and brewed up a hot cup of tea this month, now’s a great time to do so. It’s also a convenient excuse to treat yourself to some of the more interesting and exotic teas on the market, like to one’s we’ve selected below.

    White tea

    White tea is the rarest of all the tea types, made almost exclusively from the whitish buds of the tea tree. Until recently, white tea was difficult to obtain outside of China.

    A specialty of China’s Fujian province, white tea has a delicate, slightly sweet taste with a mild nutty flavor. When brewed, the tea is almost colorless. This is the Cadillac of teas: while filtered water improves the taste of any tea, it’s doubly worthwhile when you treat yourself to a cup of white tea.

    Lapsang souchong

    If China values white tea, the same cannot be said of lapsang souchong, which is often disparagingly referred to as “Western tea.” Despite this slur, lapsang souchong is very popular outside of China.

    Made from the coarser, less aromatic fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, Lapsang souchong is roasted over burning wood, which gives the tea its distinct smoky flavor. Tarry lapsang is a variety roasted over burning pine tar.


    From Japan, tencha is the base tea used to make macha powder. Tencha is made from the bud and first three leaves of the tea plant, and has a fully body with no roasting flavors.


    We’re cheating here a little, because while often referred to as redbush tea, rooibos isn’t actually made from the tea plant. Instead, it’s made from the leaves of the rooibos, a legume native to South Africa.

    Rooibos is available in green and red varieties. Green rooibos has a malty taste with slight grassy undertones, while the red variety has a nuttier taste. Neither variety has any caffeine, and the plant is said to have a number of health benefits.

    Masala Chai

    Popular all over India, masala chai is a mix of milk, brewed tea, and spices that’s become very popular in western countries. You can purchase chai spice blends, but nothing beats making your own from scratch, as we think you’ll discover with this recipe:

    • ½ cardamom seeds or ground cardamom
    • 1 1½ inch cinnamon stick
    • 4 white peppercorns
    • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 3 ½ tablespoons packed light brown sugar
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    • 2 cups filtered water
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 5 teaspoons loose black tea

    Grind the cardamom, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and fennel seeds together in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

    Bring the milk to simmer in a large heavy saucepan. Whisk in the brown sugar, the ground spice mixture, the ginger, and salt. reduce the heat to low and simmer for about three minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Bring the water to boil in a second saucepan, add the tea leaves, and boil for one minute. Pour the brewed tea through a fine sieve into the milk mixture, discarding the tea leaves. Cook over low heat for another minute before serving.

    Happy Hot Tea Month!