I wanted to meditate today on the idea of blending teas. You can probably tell from the Verdant website that we love straight up tea with a passion. So what’s with the blends? I see a lot of back and forth about blending in general on the forums here and elsewhere. Some people find it to be fun and interesting to try blends, looking forward to the additional flavor dimensions, while others feel that it distracts from the subtlety of the base tea.
For me, a blend is a commentary, a literary criticism, an essay, on the tea I am using as a base. The tea is the theme of the essay, the main thesis statement. The spices, herbs and flowers are all supporting paragraphs. A good essay will hash out all the possibilities of the thesis in several paragraphs before returning to the theme with a new understanding. For me, a good blend will use things like elderberry or galangal to help clarify the taste of the tea.
When I drink Xingyang Nuggets, I taste the dark sweetness of elderberry and the slight floral spice of galangal already. They are there in the tea. By adding the spices, I am giving those hazy feelings a place to “crystallize” and make themselves known. A blend for me is always going to be exploring and pushing the basic flavors of a straight up tea with the goal of helping the taster come to a new understanding of what the base tea has to offer.
For that reason, it is sometimes especially fun to try a tea by itself, and then try one of the blends and see how the flavors relate. This also means that every time I drink a base tea on its own and taste a new flavor it gives me new ideas for blending.
Hopefully this makes sense. There are a lot of reasons to drink straight up tea and a lot of reasons to drink blended tea. This is just one perspective that I have been thinking about a lot recently that has been guiding my “play” with new blending.