Tea lovers have become more and more creative over the years, infusing hot water with unexpected flavors that can leave consumers either confused or dazzled. Across the globe, different climates and cultures have inspired men and women to brew tea with unique ingredients. Here are five out of the ordinary teas to try or appreciate from a distance:
1) Panda Dung Tea
So you’re not drinking poo, but this Chinese green tea is grown in panda poop fertilizer. Entrepreneur and panda lover An Yanshi developed this variety in 2011. Panda poop is pretty esteemed, as far as excrement goes. Pandas eat only bamboo and digest less than 30 percent of its nutrients. That means most of the bamboo is getting churned out the rear, infusing panda waste with top tier nutrients. Back in 2012, Yanshi told Reuters, “I just want to convey to the people of the world the message of turning waste into something useful, and the culture of recycling and using organic fertilizers.” Per The Daily Mail, he told drinkers to expect “a mature and nutty taste.” The tea went on the market in 2012 for $3000 per 1.7 ounces. That probably exceeds your tea budget, but if not, head for China’s Sichuan province, where Yanshi’s collecting poo and brewing tea.
2) Bacon Tea
Your prayers have been answered: you can now sip bacon flavored tea. This blend from Adagio mixes black lapsang souchong tea with apple and caramel flavored Ceylon teas to, in their words, “recreate the taste of sugar-cured, apple-wood smoked bacon that you crave in the morning.” Packed with caffeine and flavor, this is the breakfast tea you’ve been dreaming of.
3) Savory Vegetable Teas
You don’t want soup, and you don’t want a smoothie, but you’re craving vegetables, and you can’t be bothered to chew. Sounds like it’s time to sip a savory vegetable tea. Lucky for you, Numi Organics released a line of savory teas. Flavors include: Tomato Mint,Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice, Spinach Chive, Beet Cabbage, and Broccoli Cilantro. Each tea starts with a decaffeinated black or green tea and is then infused with organic vegetables and spices from sustainable gardens. Numi claims these teas are “rich in flavor, yet light enough to enjoy any time of day.” Sip for yourself!
4) Garlic Tea
You may commonly use garlic in sauces and marinades, but think about adding it to your tea. This garlic tea from Tea Haven is available in a number of varieties, from black and red to green and white. Garlic tea may not seem like an obvious choice—especially if you plan on kissing someone anytime soon—but it may have some exciting health benefits. According to Prevention, garlic works to alleviate cold symptoms like congestion and coughing. And per Livestrong, it may help your cholesterol. Unconfirmed: may repel vampires.
5) Yak Butter Tea
In the US, it’s common to add a spot of milk or spoonful of sugar to tea. In Tibet, yak butter is the additive of choice. According to NPR, Yak butter tea is the unofficial drink of Tibet. You may have trouble finding yak butter at your local Shop Rite, but it’s easy to find in Tibet, where yaks have been domesticated since 800 BC and have provided a main source of milk and butter ever since. Tibetans use yak butter, milk, and salt to fortify tea, creating a beverage that provides warmth in the cold Himalayan Mountains. Up high, you get dehydrated faster than at sea level, so adding salt to tea helps consumers to retain water. Yellow and thick, yak butter tea is an exotic beverage packed with energy and warmth. If you’re not up for churning your own butter, buy some yak butter tea on ebay here.