If you want a cup of black tea, but would like to dress it up a little, I’ve got you covered.
I’ll share with you the tips and tricks of how what to add to black tea to make it taste better, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with what you’ll see here.
Some of these flavorings can be combined, in order to reach an even tastier drink. And it all goes great if you decide to turn this into an iced tea !
1. Black tea always goes great with milk
Now, this is a classic, pretty much anyone knows this. But, it’s the first on my list because it’s so well known, and because it’s so much loved.
You see, the malty, slightly bitter flavor of black tea makes it just perfect to add a little bit of milk (2% seems to be the favorite in the U.S.).
This means that adding any kind of milk will help mellow out the harsher tones in black tea, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
As in, don’t turn your black tea into a latte. A couple of teaspoons are enough to round things off.
You can use dairy and plant-based milk to mellow out tea, though in my opinion a higher fat milk would be best. Not a 10% one, not even 7.5%. But everything up to 3.5% is alright, and manages to make the drink taste better, without overpowering it.
If you’re using plant milk like almond milk, or pecan milk, you’re also flavoring your black tea a bit more, and both flavors go very well with this tea.
This also goes well with a drop of honey. We all know how well honey goes with milk, so it should come as no surprise that it also goes well with black tea mixed with honey.
When you do add honey, make sure the tea is warm, not hot. It should be somewhere around 40 C/104 F, as honey’s taste and health benefits are lost when exposed to high heat.
2. Fruits will always liven up black tea
Another way to flavor your cup of black tea is to add fruits to it. Or possibly buy yourself a black tea that’s blended with some fruits.
You’ll find many such teas, so I think you’ll find them very enjoyable.
Here’s a few examples of fruits that go well with black tea. Hint, it’s almost all fruits possible.
2.1. Any lemon or citrus fruit will instantly freshen black tea
Since black tea is so malty and strong, a drop of lemon oil or any sort of citrus oil will instantly brighten it. It will also ‘lift’ the body of the tea, and it won’t be as strong.
The taste will be wonderful, but it’s not going to resemble the strength of coffee as much.
Now, a good example of this is Earl Grey. The famous English bland, which is black tea that’s been left to infuse with bergamot flowers.
Those are the flowers of a type of orange tree, and they’re a beautiful mix between citrus and flower in your tea. Some people decide to add milk to an Earl Grey, which I think is not necessary.
But try it, if you want. Though I recommend you use a plant milk, just to be safe.
If you’d like to add citrus to your already-brewed black tea, here’s how you can do it.
Slice some of the fruit you intend to add, like grapefruit or lemon or orange, or any of them. Make sure you bend the slices a little, to release the citrus oil easier.
Place them in the tea after it’s been brewed and any teabag or loose leaves have been removed. Give it a stir, and let it sit for a minute to infuse properly.
Then you can drink it. Of course, you can leave the slices in if you like.
2.2. Yellow/orange fruits like Mango and Pineapple mellow out black tea
Another combination of fruits that goes very well with black tea is any yellow/orange fruit. I mean very sweet fruits, like mango, pineapple, papaya, peach, which will all help black tea become a tropical drink without even trying too much.
Now, this goes along better if you use already dried slices of the fruits I mentioned above.
Using fresh fruit in warm tea will give it an odd taste and will kind of ruin it. An already dried fruit will only impart its flavor, and you’ll be very happy with the result.
For this I recommend you get dried, chopped fruits, possibly candied of you like. Though be sure to add less sugar if you use candied fruits.
You’re going to have to add about a teaspoon of the dried fruits to the tea, if you want a stronger flavor in your black tea.
Or, you can always get yourself a black tea that’s already blended with these fruits.
2.3. Berries balance out black tea’s deeper, maltier notes
Berries, as in forest fruits and I’m including strawberries as well.
These are a very common fruit to add to tea, and even a tea on their own.
But adding these will compliment the deeper notes of the black tea, though they won’t exactly lift them as much ad mango or lemon.
What you’ll get instead will be a wonderfully tasty drink that’s perfect for autumn. Especially if you use blueberries and blackberries.
Black currants and strawberry might be a better option for an iced black tea, made by cold brewing and then adding ice to serve.
What you should know about berries when you add them to hot tea is that they will make the tea smell great, though they’ll make it a bit sour. Their tartness doesn’t really handle hot temperatures very well, so this is more of a cold tea combination.
If you were to infuse your cold brewed tea with a Nitro canister, I think your tea would end up as the perfect summer drink.
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3. Ginger is a long-standing friend of black tea
One of the most ancient and respected flavorings for tea. Now, ginger is amazing on its own, and especially friendly when paired with green tea.
But, it’s also great with black tea. It will act much like lemon, as its aroma is kind of similar to that, at least in smell.
When you do take a sip, you’ll be surprised it’s actually spicy and very well flavored.
Of course, this works best if you use fresh ginger.
Now, using ginger in your tea might be intimidating at first, I know I was confused when I first tried handling it. But let me tell you how to use it.
When you brew black tea, you need to let it steep for 3-5 minutes, But ginger needs more than that.
So after you heat up the tea water, grab half a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peel it, and grate it into the water.
I say half a thumb because a full thumb will be enough for a full cup of just ginger tea. The more you use, the spicier the tea, and it might become a bit much for some people.
So, grate your ginger into the water. You need to grate it so it will release its essential oil and infuse much faster.
If you don’t have a grater, get a knife and chop it very finely, attempting to crush it every now and them with the flat side of the knife. Careful the knife might slip.
Once your ginger is in the water, let it steep for about 5 minutes, and then add the black tea.
Let it steep for 3-5 minutes, provided that the water is at 90 C/194 F.
Then, you will definitely need to strain the tea as it will contain so many pieces of ginger that might end up in your cup.
4. Flower petals and buds are a nice way to add flavor to black tea
Flowers are another way to make black tea even more enjoyable.
One of the most famous combination for black tea and flowers is rose buds or rose petals.
The rose adds a nice perfume to the black tea’s malt, and somehow makes it taste much more refined.
As such, you should know that rose doe smell pretty strong. So make sure you’re alright with rose scents, before you decide to add roses to your black tea.
Another option is to add lavender, which is a very relaxing bloom, both to look at and to smell.
This one too will be a very strong taste. In general, flowers that smell very strong are going to taste very strong in the tea as well, because of the essential oil found in their petals.
This can also be done with cherry blossoms, as they will impart their flavor to your drink as well.
When you add the petals they should be very well dried, and added to the water as the same time as the tea leaves. This way you’re getting a nice flavor without an overly herbal taste coming form the fresh petals.
5. Any spices you add to black tea will make it tastier
Another thing you can do to make your black tea taste better – there’s a lot of things, really – is to spice it up. Literally.
This means making a sort of chai, actually.
Chai is the Indian word for tea, but it’s also come to designate the heavily spiced teas that are common across India and fairly well known in the West as well.
The exact recipe for Chai varies from one region of India to the other, and each family in each region has its own twist on the recipe.
What’s commonly used though is:
- black pepper or chili
Now, you can add whatever spices you like to this combination, or remove others. For example you could add star anise, all spice, turmeric, remove cardamom, remove chili and black pepper altogether, etc.
Vanilla pods and cacao beans are also a good option for this kind of tea as well.
Add the spices as the same time you add the black tea leaves. You’re going to have to strain the tea, to make sure no bits of cinnamon or any other spice end up in your tea.
Just know that whatever combination you decide on, it will be spicy. Not in the pepper/chili sort of way, but almost too flavorful. You won’t taste the black tea as much as with other versions we discussed above.
One thing that helps this kind of tea become easier to drink if you’ve over-spiced it is dairy milk. The fats and protein will bind onto the spice molecules and make them less harsh.
And of course, these spices go very well with honey.
Whatever you decide to add to your black tea to make it taste better, I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy with it.
The ideas on this list are going to help you narrow down what you preferences might be, and hopefully you’ll find an option you’ll really like.
I suggest you start small with the lemon/citrus slice first, and see how you like that one.
If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?