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Tea Drink Variations

American & International Tea Drinks

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A matcha latte cocktail

This matcha latte cocktail is one example of the many types of variations on tea available.

Lindsey Goodwin
There are many variations on regular hot tea. These are a few of the most popular twists on tea out there.

Bubble Tea - A sweet, cold and milky/fruity tea made with small "bubbles" made from tapioca or other chewy food substances. It is also known as "boba tea" and "pearl tea." It is often made from concentrate.

Chai - See "Masala Chai" below.

Fruit Tea - Either a tisane made with dried fruit or a tea favored with dried fruit bits and/or fruit flavoring.

Herbal Infusion - See "Tisane" below.

Herbal Tea - See "Tisane" below.

Iced Infusions - Like iced tea, but with an herbal infusion (a.k.a. "tisane" or "herbal tea") base. Popular types include fruit blends and rooibos.

Iced Tea - Tea that is chilled and served with ice. It may be "sweet tea" (as is common in the Southern U.S.) or "unsweetened tea" (a.k.a. "unsweet tea" in parts of the South). Some prepare it with cold-brewing methods, but most brew it with hot water. It may be brewed strong and poured over ice immediately or brewed at normal (or near-normal) strength, chilled, and then iced.

Kombucha - A fermented, slightly effervescent beverage that typically has a tea or tisane as its base material. These are usually sold in bottles or "growlers" (large bottles), but can also be made at home. Some are unflavored. Common flavorings include ginger, cranberry and citrus fruit. Learn more about kombucha with Kombucha Tea 101.

Masala Chai - A spiced, milky, sweetened blend that usually contains a black tea base. It's also commonly known as "chai" or chai tea." Homemade masala chai is made by boiling chai spices and/or tea in milk and/or water. Many coffeeshops sell chai made from a syrup or powder.

Matcha - A powdered green tea that is either whisked into warm water (the traditional method of matcha preparation) or used as an ingredient in foods, green tea smoothies and green tea lattes.

Milk Tea - Tea with milk. Many loose-leaf teas are so-called "self drinkers," which means they are ideal without milk. However, loose and bagged black tea is typically consumed with milk in many Western cultures. There are many regional variations on milk tea around the world, including masala chai and Hong Kong Milk Tea.

Spiced Tea - Tea steeped or boiled with spices and (sometimes) with fruit juices, sugar and other ingredients. A common "spiced tea" is the wintertime favorite "Russian Tea."

Sweet Tea - Tea with sugar. Although this term is sometimes used for hot tea, it usually applies to iced tea. You can easily sweeten iced tea by adding sugar to hot water as you brew the tea, or by adding a liquid sweetener.

Tea Cocktail - A cocktail made with tea or a tea-infused simple syrup or liquor. Like most cocktails, these are usually served cold, but there are some popular hot tea cocktails, the most famous of which is the Hot Toddy. Hot tea cocktails include the Chamomile Hot Toddy, Irish Tea and Tea Frog. Cold tea cocktails include the Green Tea Martini, Tea Tini and Hennessey Ginger Tea Cocktail. Tea-infused vodkas are a common base for cold tea cocktails.

Tea Mocktail - A non-alcoholic tea drink that looks (and may even taste) like a cocktail. Tea mocktails include sparkling teas served in champagne glasses, the Hot Not Toddy, the Smoky Tea Mocktail, Green Tea "Sangria" and Cinnamon Cherry Kombucha.

Tea Latte - A tea version of a traditional latte. Tea lattes can be made hot, iced or even blended. Popular tea lattes include Yerba Mate Lattes and Matcha Green Tea Lattes.

Tea Punch - An alcoholic or non-alcoholic punch with tea as an ingredient. Many traditional punches contain tea. Thanks to a rising interest in green tea for health, newer recipes are often for green tea punch.

Tea Soda - A soda made with tea or tisane simple syrup. Some tea sodas are available commercially. You can also make Sparkling Jasmine Iced Tea at home.

Tea Smoothie - A smoothie made with tea. More often than not, they are made with a green tea powder (such as matcha), but sometimes they are made with a tea syrup or other tea powder. Examples of tea smoothies include the Tropical Banana-Mate Smoothie and the Award-Winning Green Tea Smoothie.

Tea with Sugar - Just like it sounds: tea with sugar. While "sweet tea" refers to iced tea, "tea with sugar" usually refers to hot tea. In more British-influenced settings (such as afternoon tea gatherings), people may refer to tea with a particular number of "lumps," which refers to the preferred number of sugar cubes in a cup of tea.

Tisanes - "Herbal teas" or "herbal infusions" made with any plant other than the tea plant (Camellia sinensis, or "Chinese camellia"). Many tisanes are drunk for medicinal purposes, while others are enjoyed simply for their flavors. Popular tisanes include chamomile, ginger "tea" and mint "tea".

Yerba Mate - A common tisane with a bittersweet flavor. Yerba mate is different from other tisanes in that it contains caffeine. This caffeine level makes it popular in coffee shops, so it is often made into tea lattes or brewed n a French press, as illustrated in these yerba mate recipes.
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