With a wealth of information readily available online, we are all better informed about the products we consume. From salt and sugar to synthetic food stabilisers, colours, and artificial sweeteners, consumers are considerably more aware of the ingredients they consume.
Fortunately for us, tea is a straightforward product. It is stable and hence does not require additional help to be commercialised. However, since our taste preferences evolve, food manufacturers are constantly attempting to provide goods that cater to this evolving market, which is why the addition of natural or artificial flavours has been popular over the last three decades. As such, I'd want to discuss the usage of flavourings today to help you make the best option for your tea drinking.
To begin, let us define flavour. Flavour is the sensory experience of taste, smell, and feeling that occurs when we eat a meal or beverage. This sensation is caused by the millions of molecules included in the meal or beverage influencing our central nervous system. These molecules are essentially compounds that provide the product's particular flavour and aroma. Food manufacturers attempt to replicate this effect through the use of natural and artificial flavours.
An artificial flavour is a laboratory-created chemical synthesis of the chemicals mentioned above. The synthesis is entirely synthetic and derived from synthetic materials. Additionally, these artificial flavours alter the makeup of these molecules, increasing the proportion of those that provide a more pungent smell or taste.
For instance, a product flavoured with fake mango would smell and taste much stronger than a natural mango! In tea, you can generally tell whether a product contains artificial flavour because the taste and fragrance are strong, so intense that it appears the thing does not exist naturally.
Once the flavour is created, it requires a carrier, a medium that will keep the flavour stable and allow it to be applied to any application. Generally, these stabilisers are solvents such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, hexane, or triacetin. While they are considered food safe, they are also utilised in a variety of industrial applications, and so we would never ingest them.
Natural flavours are comparable to synthetic flavours in that they are molecules that are used to simulate a particular flavour, but these molecules are derived from natural sources. To produce a certain flavour, you may need molecules that are naturally present in two or three distinct components.
Ginger is an excellent illustration. To amp up the spiciness of a natural ginger flavour, flavorists add eucalyptus, which adds intensity and heat. In tea, you can typically determine if a product has natural flavour because the taste and fragrance of the product will be moderate since no naturally occurring molecules may intensify them.
Due to the lack of regulation regarding the usage of the phrases natural versus artificial, it can be difficult to determine if a flavouring is artificial just by looking at the label; many firms frequently misuse the two terms or use them interchangeably. Furthermore, natural flavours have comparable carriers with synthetic flavours, which means that even if the molecules are naturally occurring, they still require stabilisers.
However, natural flavours that are certified organic are distinct. As stated previously, they are natural flavours, but the carrier must also be natural. Water and alcohol are prominent conveyances in this country. Additionally, for these flavours to be called organic, they must be extracted using natural processes such as steam distillation or CO2 extraction.
These flavours are considered oils in this method of natural extraction and carrying, as they are the closest thing you can get to the real component you're emulating. They are often reserved for spices, citrus fruits (such as the bergamot in our Earl Grey tea! ), and some plants, such as peppermint. XO Tea makes the majority of its goods from this category.
Please keep in mind that this description of flavours is exclusive to the tea industry and may not apply to various sectors. And, in my opinion, the use of flavouring in tea has gone too far. Numerous businesses add flavour to herbal teas, which is unnecessary if mixed properly. Herbs contain distinct flavours and aromas that, when blended properly, may improve the flavour profile of a tea while still retaining the integrity of the components.
Our Native Uplift tea is an excellent example of innovative herb mixing. We spent years tweaking the combination to achieve the optimal passionfruit flavour profile, ensuring that clients receive a 100 per cent natural product that tastes authentic but also contains authentic herbs and flavours. We could easily have added some passionfruit flavouring, but instead, We created an all-natural tea that promotes the advantages of bush plants while still tasting delicious!
If your herbal tea product has been highly flavoured, the leaves may frequently be discoloured and black in colour. When comparing unflavoured and flavoured leaves side by side, the unflavoured leaves are naturally brilliant, while the flavoured ones are brownish. Personally, as a teamaker, We believe there is no reason to flavour caffeine-free teas unless they are made with oils. By altering an item's intrinsic natural flavour, the flavour and maybe even the therapeutic value of the substance are lost.