Experiencing History: Through Tea

51During my research, I came across three different tea flavors that were common in the South during  the Civil War. As the Union pressed in on the South, certain things became scarce. Coffee, sugar, tea, and flour were among the missing items. I wanted to experience a bit of this history by tasting three of the various teas found during this era, and I’m going to share my experience with you.


Chamomile: Everyone makes such a big deal out of the drink. I tried it once and wasn’t impressed. Since years has a way of maturing your tastes, I thought I’d give it another go. This tea was popular in the south even before the war.

Rose: As a black tea drinker, it sounds mighty strange to think of drinking a dried flower petal but if they did it, then I can try it…at least once.

Dandelion: Okay, again, we come to a drink made from a flower. Made from a honeysuckle, I could understand. But the weed, Dandelion?! I’m expecting this to be my least favorite. Below I share my thoughts at various stages. So let’s begin!

~How do they smell when they’re dry?~

Chamomile smelled like hay. My daddy hauled hay every summer when I was growing up, so I KNOW the smell of hay. Just one whiff of this tea brought back many childhood summers for me. But I’m not so sure this is going to be a good taste for tea.

Rose had a light flowery scent with a touch of mint. This version of rose tea, in fact, does have some mint mixed in. It’s a pleasant smell, but I’m not sure this is what I’m looking for in a tea.

Dandelion has a very earthy smell, and again we meet a bag of hay. Hmmm I’m beginning to wonder if anything good could come from these cups.

~Steeping smells and colors~

Chamomile smells even more like hay!!! Out of the three cups that I brewed, this one had a medium color.

Rose smells like soap. I can picture those fancy little soaps in a dish before my eyes. This one was the lightest in color.

Dandelion has a surprisingly nutty smell to it.

~Taste without sugar~ (I’m a sugar fan. In fact, this is the first time I’ve even tempted unsweetened tea but since sugar was scarce in the south, I wanted to try it.)

Chamomile tasted like hay and water. 😦 Did I do this wrong?

Rose tasted like hay and soap mixed together. Again, not a pleasant flavor.

Dandelion tasted nutty. I can’t wait to try these with sugar!

~Taste with sugar~

Chamomile tasted much better with sugar. Who knew sweetened hay could be acceptable? Lol

Rose tasted better with the sugar. The sugar brought more of the flower and mint flavors to the surface.

Dandelion tasted similar to a hazelnut but different. It has a pleasant nutty flavor. By far my favorite tea and the most surprising!


Chamomile with a bit more sugar was somewhat acceptable. I couldn’t finish the cup since I could never fully get past the hay flavor. Maybe those that didn’t grow up around hay could appreciate this flavor of tea better than I could. I might have grown more used to the flavor if the Dandelion tea wasn’t calling me back. 😉

Rose Additional sugar killed he hay flavor and brought the soap flavor out much stronger. Not the worst thing I’ve tasted but my least favorite. Let’s face it, drinking soap isn’t the best way to relax in the evening. 😉

Dandelion with a splash of vanilla coffee creamer made it a wonderful experience! This was the only cup I emptied, and I would gladly buy more!! Or maybe I will wait till my yard is covered with them and figure out how to dry my own dandelion tea leaves. Hey!! That might be a fun “Experiencing History” experiment.

Okay, tea fans! Have I talked you into giving either of these flavors a try? Have you actually drank one of these flavors and enjoyed them? Do you have any other surprising tea flavors that you’d like to share with me? I love tea like I love to read so I’d love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “Experiencing History: Through Tea”

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