Oils for DIY Blends

I am starting to blend my own teas (it is so much cheaper and fun!), but one thing I noticed companies do is add oils to their tea blends. This adds to the aroma and flavor. However, I was not sure (1) what oils I could and should add, (2) I am not sure if there was a certain process to add the oils to the tea, and (3) where can I find oils to buy to add to tea?

When I type something like “Lemon Oil,” I find many links for essential oils. However, I am not sure if essential oils are really meant to be consumed, and I am hesitant to consume anything not intended for consumption.

Also, how do I add it? Should I drop the oil directly on the tea leaves? Does this affect the shelf life at all?

Are there any oils you recommend buying? I am thinking of getting some lemon oil to enhance my lemon flavor and aroma for a lemon tea.

Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions you have to offer!

6 Replies

This will be vague because I’m a certified aromatherapist and not a tea blender. There are tea blenders here. I hope they chime in.

You don’t want to use pure essential oils in tea. Many should not ever be taken internally. EOs are not all food grade, some are toxic if taken internally and should never be casually experimented with.

There are food grade flavoring oils on the market that are used in cosmetics like lip gloss and edible ‘adult’ body oils as well as teas, coffees and drinks. They have taste and scent and are formulated for human consumption. Lor Ann Oils is one company to look into.

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AJ said

Definitely stick to that instinct and listen to White Antlers on that—don’t use regular essential oils.

Most of the flavouring oils used are industrial-level and aren’t available in anything less than by the gallon-bottle. These are extremely concentrated, much more than your baking section’s flavourings. They’re formulated to dry down and be long-lasting. But for at-home flavour experiments, you probably don’t need that potency.

Poking through Lor Ann Oils that White Antlers listed, it looks like a great place to start. I’d say read the ingredients of any flavouring before you pick it up. Propylene glycol or alcohol bases are usually what you’re looking for. Avoid any water in the ingredients; you don’t want to introduce moisture into your tea. I’d also say avoid corn syrup/sugar/molasses as that also immediately shortens your shelf-life for the dry tea, but if you’re consuming it pretty regularly, that probably doesn’t matter. Adding flavouring in general does shorten the shelf life, but if there’s no sugars or anything in it, it’ll usually just go stale before it goes rancid.

To add it to the dry tea, usually it’s weighed out and sprayed on. Kind of hard to do at home, but you can also use an eye-dropper and a plastic bag with the dry tea—twist it closed, shake it vigorously, give it a bit of time to dry. You’ll want to keep track of the weight (ratio of flavour to dry tea), for repeatability. Hard to say what it would be with Lor Ann Oils, but I’d start with 5% by weight, adjust to tastes.

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I appreciate white antlers and AJ’s input. Lor Ann oil is a great tip. Thanks!

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You may find suitable, safe, if nontraditional, extracts and essences at natural foods stores. You can also grow your own flowering herbals like jasmine, snow chrysanthemum, rose hips, hibiscus, orange blossoms, etc. Just be sure you’ve got an edible variety!

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Thanks for the suggestion. I ended up buying a lemon extract Lorann oil and added it to my tea. It’s potent stuff, so I only needed a little. If anyone else is is interested to file suit, I put the oil in a zip lock bag, spread it around the bag and then mixed the tea in. It turned out to be an effective way to spread the oil evenly.
This oil and method worked well, and it added the flavor and aroma I was looking for.

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Glad the Lor Ann worked for you, Jordan. In the future, if you are making more scented tea blends, you can apply the Lor Ann oil to an appropriately sized piece of absorbent paper and put that in with your loose product as a way to scent and flavor it. You can always add more of the oil as needed.

It is always worrisome to me when people mindlessly start playing around with pure essential oils. When I was going for my aromatherapy certification back in the early 70s, I thought I was clever and burned myself badly by applying cinnamon essential oil neat to my pulse points. That was a horribly unforgettable experience.

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