This One Thing Could Have A Huge Impact On Your Tea's Flavor

Nothing's more calming than a freshly brewed cup of hot tea. In the summer, popping it in the fridge and serving it over ice can be even more refreshing. Whether it's loose-leaf or prepackaged tea bags, a steaming cup from the cafe or a cold ready-to-drink bottle from the corner store, tea is more popular than ever before. According to the Tea Association of the USA, more than 3.8 billion gallons of tea were consumed by Americans in 2020 and more than half of all Americans drink tea on any given day.

Casual tea drinkers might drink whatever type of tea is available, but many people choose their favorite varieties carefully. Some teas are energizing while some are relaxing. Different tea varieties have darker undertones with rich, complex flavors and others are light and airy. We all want a specific tea flavor that meets our particular needs. But what creates such a wide array of flavors even when the leaves come from the same species of plant? There is one factor that greatly affects the flavor of the tea. Check out what it is below!

The main source of your tea's flavor is terroir

The United States is the third-largest importer of tea in the world, and the only country whose import rates have actually gone up (via TeaUSA). It's easy to forget that the tea being imported has already had an entire life before it reaches us. The most important factor affecting your tea's flavor is where it comes from and the environment in which the tea bush was grown.

Terroir is the official term for how the environment affects the growth of the tea bush, and therefore the production of the tea. The concept is often used to describe wine, honey, coffee, and cheese, but also affects tea. The tea bush will grow more slowly in stressful conditions with extreme temperatures, temperature change, elevation, or poor soil drainage. This results in complex flavor profiles with deeper notes than tea grown in less stressful environments (via Robb Report).

Specific flavor notes also point to the local environment and terroir. A tea sommelier broke down how some of these factors affect specific teas for Wine Enthusiast. Everything from the mist around the tea bush to damage from grasshoppers is important to create the perfect tea flavor that we enjoy miles away from the bush! So the next time you take the first sip of your tea, remember terroir and how those soothing flavors were created.