Definition of Speciality Tea


SPECIALITY TEA - At risk of being overly simplistic, speciality teas are teas which are not ordinary, there is something special about them. They can be special in many different ways and those ways may differ according to the country in which they are being consumed. For example, in the United States, where green tea represents a small percentage of total tea consumption, it may be considered a speciality tea. However, in Japan, where green tea represents the majority of consumption, it would not be considered a Speciality Tea.

Speciality teas may be defined as teas which are of special (high) quality.

Typically, branded teas available in this country are blended. They may contain teas from many tea gardens and from many producing countries. Tea companies blend their teas to maintain a particular flavour profile which consumers have come to expect from those companies and to maintain a stable raw material cost structure. These companies all employ expert tea tasters who periodically change the blends to reflect changes in the tea marketplace and in the qualities of the tea which they receive.

Speciality teas may be blended or unblended. 

Unblended teas come from a particular region of a tea producing country known for high quality. They may even be teas which come from a particular tea estate (plantation) known for high quality - much the same as how some estate wines are highly valued. The definition may also include teas which utilize traditional recipes which are recognized within the industry as being of high quality. An example of this definition is an English Breakfast blend which traditionally uses high quality China Keemuns or a blend of Ceylon and India teas. Other examples of this type of speciality tea are blends called Irish Breakfast or Russian Caravan

In addition, flavoured teas such as Earl Grey (flavoured with oil of bergamot), scented teas such as Jasmine (a green tea which is flavoured with Jasmine flowers), s
piced teas (flavoured with ginger), or a tea which undergoes special processing such as a Lapsang Souchong (which has a smoky flavour) are also referred to as Speciality Teas.