Reader Question About Flavored Tea

A reader asks: "Are there any tell-tale ways of determining if a particular tea has natural flavor vs. an added flavor? I have not tried enough different kinds of tea to make such a keen determination, but I sometimes wonder about this and if it is a valid concern to tea buyers. I guess soil, growing conditions, climate, and method of processing help determine a tea's characteristics. I recall tasting a "milk tea" (non-dairy) awhile back that was in the oolong family. It was delicious with buttery flavor overtones. I couldn't help but wonder if the flavor was genuine or artificial. Are there fake teas out there?"

We respond: The only defense is experience. Knowing the particular characteristics of each tea will help determine if something "funny" is going on. In the case of "milk" tea, it is an oolong from Taiwan that is most likely flavored.