How many of you ‘blend’ your own tea?
Attention master blenders (and those of you—-like me—-who are amateurs)!
I am curious if—-and then how—-the rest of you blend the teas you drink? Clearly there are many of you out there who have tons of experience with blending different teas and know which ones brew up well together (by knowing things like, which ones compliment each other).
I ‘blend’ for a variety of reasons. My main motivation for blending is cost. For example, I often blend my higher quality teas with my lower quality ones—just before brewing—to keep the price down. Because we are on a limited budget, this allows us to be able to buy and drink some of the higher quality stuff, and it enables me to keep more of it around for longer. I still store each tea on its own; I simply add two kinds of leaves to my pot when I brew (it seems like three kinds cancels out any discernable flavor in each).
I blend in a variety of ways. For example, just this morning I brewed up a pot of Yue Guang Bai, and, as I want to conserve what I have of it, and since I like to keep the flavor reasonably strong on the second and third steepings, I added some less expensive ‘base’ tea—-in this case, Specialteas Yunnan Silver tips, since both are harvested from the Yunnan province—-to each later steeping (thus, a method of ‘blending’). That way it helps with the overall cost per cup, AND it maintains a certain level of flavor in each steeping. I don’t like to add more of the higher quality tea to the later steepings as I don’t like to steep my higher quality stuff any less than two—-and usually three—times.
Another example of how I blend is using a decent black tea as a kind of base for blending with other flavored black teas we have. I bought two pounds of the Java OP for a great price from Specialteas during their going out of business sale at the beginning of the year. After trying a new flavored tea on its own once, I blend it with our base black tea—-Java OP—-on any steepings after that; I have found that the Java OP does not interfere with the flavors of the other flavored black teas. This helps to ‘stretch’ out our stash of our more expensive flavored teas.
Another reason I blend is to help enliven the current selection of tea in my cabinet by creating new ‘flavors’. For example, I have found adding an Earl Grey tea bag to a second and third steeping of my daily green really compliments the flavor of the green tea, AND it maintains a reasonable level of flavor in the cup (as the flavor of the green degrades with each steeping). As another example, I typically blend our Teavana Snow Peak Downy Tips white tea with a little Teavana Emerald Bamboo Forest fruit white blend tea, which makes a great tasting cup (this is great especially as we have much more of the Downy Tips that we do of the Emerald Bamboo Forest).
That’s just a few examples of how and why I blend.
So, fellow tea enthusiasts—-addicts, devotees, aficionados—-of the Steepster Universe, if you are so inclined to share your insights with the rest of us, then please, tell us, how DO you blend?
I haven’t gotten into blending much just yet. So far, it’s just Peppermint and Chamomile. Funny you mentioned it actually, I plan on trying Chamomile and Mate tomorrow… I’m hoping they will balance out nicely and let me really focus while at work! :)
—I’d like to experiment more with blending, but I know that I’ll want to try everything out there first, and Zeus knows that will never happen!
Also, I try to keep in mind that if I ever hate a tea, blending it with something else can be an option but I usually forget and just give the tea away or drink it anyhow.
I’d like to try blending mate with a black tea as well. It sounds interesting!
Like you I sometimes blend some of my better teas with some of my not so great teas to give them a new lease on life. But I’ve recently gotten into buying my own teas (Etsy is awesome) a Dragon Well and an Organic Oolong. I’ve started blending those with some herbs I also ordered and the result has been good.
I’d love to one day open up my own brick and mortar, but for now I work at a local place offering my blends up as the special of the day. If someone wants any well I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
I used to sell my blends to a few restaurants and they were very well received. I do blend some at home as well and enjoy unlimited varieties that way. As folks have already said, it’s nice to extend some higher cost teas with a creative blend. Advice to those who have no experience in blending….don’t be afraid to try. You will occasionally wonder what in the world you’ve created…but you’ll also find some really tasty blends all your own as well.
Not much of a blender but that’s because I have no idea where to start. This is definitely something I would like to get into. Anybody kind enough of provide basic/fundamental knowledge?
Here is a link to a decent article to get you started. The big thing though is to have fun with it. Don’t let yourself get so focused on creating the “perfect” blend that you don’t let yourself enjoy the journey of getting there.
Thanks @Iainthekiltman, for the link. it was a very informative article about blending.
I certainly agree with having fun while doing anything that has to do with tea. I sometimes get caught up in the details and don’t “enjoy the journey of getting there.”
I mixed a vanilla black tea with hojicha…I was trying for vanilla hoji. It was ok.
I really like the imagery you used above, but, I am male, so trying to imagine myself in some nightgown added a little extra (unintended) humor for me!
“… and therein lies the exacting secret for each person, yes?” Certainly, yes. Personal pleasure, which to me amounts to the discovering of what I want out of life and then the honoring of those very personal wants by making choices that are grounded in my true self is part of the secret of living.
Thank you for providing a brief description and example of the foundational methods of true perfumers. You have given me much food for thought (or is it many notes?)
You clearly have a talent for writing. I look forward to your participating in the discussions and in reading your reviews.
The Brewts website looks very well designed. I really like the color of the background images and the overall feel of the site. Are you in some way affiliated with it? You certainly write like you know what you are talking about when it comes to blending, and I saw a reference on the site about custom blending.
Whilst still mesmerised my the imagery above, my distracted thoughts take me back to 1984 when I accidentally blended my first infusion. My mom had grabbed two cups from the dripper, filled them with hot water from the kettle and took a phone call. She dropped her herbal bag (she used to pull the strings off) and walked away. I didn’t see a tea bag string dangling so I grabbed the nearest cup and dumped a PG bag into it. After a few minutes I removed BOTH bags. Oops. Confessing to my mom that I zilched her bag, I decided not to waste it and see if it tasted okay. It wasn’t terrible, but the cinnamon was a bit much. She loved it and before I knew it, half my PG supply was gone mid-month. Thanks, mom.
You get the idea, right? I’ve been blending non-stop ever since. I have a ‘recipe book’ that I’ve used for years and years and I still add to it all the time. I employ some of them in my shoppe and even have a monthly blending contest for patrons who come up with good blends. I allow them to name the blend, put their photo and recipe on the wall and give them their blend free for a month, any time of day. My “Concoction of the Month” is getting more and more popular locally. The latest one was called “Frankenonsense.” Excellent blend of Ceylon, Orange peels, fig and organic green tea.
Keep blending…experiment…it’s alot of fun!
I do my own blends – and it’s a blast! I say just dive right in. That’s what I did. I just purchased samples from Adagio and experimented until I blended a happy harmony of tastes, then I tried out the custom blend simulator on Adagio. My blends sell pretty well there. So I tried my own exclusive blend, and it’s selling pretty well too.
If you ever need any advice, feel free to ask me. :) I’m no expert but I don’t mind sharing knowledge with fellow teaists!
Thank you, all, for your input. Experimenting certainly is the key.
I like to blend in large part to stretch my more expensive teas by adding lower cost teas to create a 2/3 or a 50/50 ratio when I steep them, or I add a tsp of a lower cost tea for the second and third steepings to buoy the flavor in the later steepings (I don’t like getting any less than three steepings out of any quality green, for example, so I don’t like adding more of it). A habit I recently got into, as an example, is adding a flavored gunpowder to the second and third steepings of my H&S Gyokuro. They seem to mix well, especially because gunpowder seems to be so forgiving on temperature and steeping time, as the Gyokuro needs to be steeped at tempuratures outside the typical Chinese green tea range (Even at 150 F, I can still taste the flavored gunpowder).
I may take you up on that advice sometime, KeenTeaThyme. : )