The world of tea is a pretty vast one. It’s comprised of countless varieties of proper “tea” (which is derived only from the Camellia sinensis plant) and there are also numerous tea-like beverages that are often lumped in with tea. Most of these are more properly known as tisanes. When you consider that all of the aforementioned might be blended and tweaked with various flavors and prepared in a number of different ways, the number of combinations rises to something akin to all of the grains of sand on all of the world’s beaches.

Builders tea is not a terribly exotic type of tea, but it’s probably unfamiliar to most of us here in the good old United States. In the United Kingdom, this creamy and heavily sugared blend, typically made strong from inexpensive black tea, is quite common and takes its name from the construction workers said to favor it. While a recent report indicated that it’s lately been losing ground to green tea, it’s still a very popular tea variation there.

If the word “chifir” rings a bell, then you may have spent some time in a Russian prison. The prisoners there are said to favor this brew, which is essentially just black tea prepared at concentrations that are not recommended for casual drinkers – or anyone. For a brief primer on this eye-opening treat, look here.

Genmaicha is a popular variety of Japanese green tea that’s flavored with roasted rice, which gives it an aroma and taste that some liken to popcorn. Here’s a report from the Indian press about a tisane that skips the green tea and just uses the roasted rice. It’s a concoction that apparently has a taste that’s something like coffee.

While Hawaii is one of the few places in the United States that grows modest amounts of “real” tea, they also favor a tisane there that’s made from nettles and which is known locally as mamaki. More about it here.

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