Our flavor Guru lives on the island of Maui, creating some amazing flavors that we use here at Art of Tea. In conjunction with the varieties of tea in their purest form, many teas are enhanced with flavors to give them a new and unique identity.
Mike told us that in creating new flavors for teas, he is, as he does in windsurfing, constantly searching for the next best flavor, wave, combination, or ride. For Mike, these are the things in life that heighten, invigorate, and synergize his joyful addiction, whether it be to riding waves or creating flavors.
We asked Mike to give us a look into what make flavors, well, flavors, and how they are used in teas.
Q: What is a flavor?
A: A flavor is defined as Aroma + Taste. I always use the following simple equation: AROMA + TASTE = FLAVOR. Aromas are what our olfactory senses perceive from the molecules or essences which are contained in the flavoring or food product. All aromatic compounds enter our nasal receptors located in our sinus cavities. Without our nasal receptors we simply would not be able to identify the fruit or food product we are ingesting. To prove this, one can hold their nose and try to taste a strawberry or cup of hot green or black tea.
The only attributes one can perceive while consuming and holding their nose at the same time, are the elements that make up TASTE. As you probably know from school or reading cookbooks, taste comprises the following sensory perceptions: Sweet, Salty, Bitter & Sour. A fifth perception has been identified as Umami, which is a savory sensation associated with soy sauces. Flavors can come either dry, or as a liquid, which can be combined with tea & herbal leaves.”
Q: What is the difference between an essence and an extract?
A: These flavors are made by creating extracts & essences. An extract is essentially what is extracted from a fruit puree with oil or water, and an essence is the molecules which make up the extract. Liquid flavorings are then created by mixing several essences together.
A natural flavoring is different from an artificial flavoring because natural flavorings contain only essences and molecules which are derived from the natural fruit or herb product, and not derived or created from an artificial source such as petroleum compounds.
Q: What is your favorite flavor for tea?
A: I really do not have one favorite flavor for tea. That’s mainly because I keep searching for the more perfect flavor to create. However, I do enjoy tropical flavors such as Passionfruit, Mango, Pineapple, Guava, and Coconut.
Q: Where do you see trends shifting in the next few years with flavors and teas?
A: I see the consuption trends shifting to more demand for natural flavored, organic teas, rather than artificial flavored tea leaves. Tropical flavored teas will become more popular then they are now. In general I believe we will see consumer demand for tea leaves (loose leaf & tea bags) increase as a greater share of the total tea market over bottled ready to drink teas.