The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations describes a "natural flavorant" as:  the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or any other edible portions of a plant, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose primary function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.

Methods Used To Flavor Tea:

Jasmine Pearls – jasmine blossoms are layered with hand rolled tea buds and the scent of the jasmine permeates the tea leaves.  The process has to be repeated several times until desired aroma is reached.

Floral Teas – hot air is passed through the blossoms and filtered through the tea.  Once the scent is exhausted the blossoms are used as decoration in the tea e.g. Jasmine green tea

Smoke Dried – some teas are dried over logs such as pine or oak.e.g. Lapsang Souchong.

Roasted – Japanese hojicha is roasted in a pot over charcoal, which also lowers the caffeine level. Most Japanese teas are steamed though.


Shading - The highest grade of tea in Japan (gyokuro) has its tea bushes shaded for 20 days prior to harvesting.  This produces high levels of an amino acid called theanine that causes the tea to have a mild sweet flavor.

Natural Flavorings – compounds made from entirely natural substances – oils, extracts and concentrates.  A simple and common process e.g. for making vanilla extract: take vanilla beans and grind them to a pulp, allow them to soak and extract in an alcohol/water mixture for a period of time, up to several months.  This method is also used for citrus and other fruit flavors.  Filtering, clarifying and emulsifying techniques using gum or starch are necessary before being bottled or packaged. 

Nature Identical – these flavors are the chemical equivalent of natural flavors but are chemically synthesized rather than extracted.  These flavorings are typically created by a flavorist and contain the most dominant substance that is found in the natural flavoring.  Most "flavored" teas are flavored with natural identical flavoring agents.  It takes great skill to combine flavorings with tea since the leaves already have aromas and scents of their own; this can be likened to the work of a perfumer.  Typically, manufacturers use rotating drums to blend the tea leaves with the flavorants for an even distribution.

Artificial Flavors - created by synthesis and do not exist in nature, this is done by altering the chemical structure of a naturally occurring molecule to create a different, intense, less expensive flavor.  Ethyl-vanillin is three times more highly perfumed than vanillin.