Tea blends can be a very wonderful thing, especially when done by an experienced tea blender. Sometimes, though, the desire to come up with something new for the ever expanding tea market can lead to what I’d only describe as “Tea Blend Mania.”
So, why do people blend teas? Several reasons, actually. For one thing, blenders take teas from different harvest times and blend them so the taste is more uniform. This seems to be due to a tea drinking public that does not have a good knowledge of how tea is produced. Knowing what each harvest time has to offer is part of one’s growth as a tea drinker. As you learn this, you may find yourself shying away from these types of blends in favor of teas labeled with their harvest date.
Another reason for blending teas is to harmonize the taste characteristics of one type of tea with another. I recently had a version of Irish Breakfast that was a blend of Assam and Ceylon. The malty Assam was tempered with the wonderful Ceylon, and the blend was free of bitterness. Kenyan and Tanzanian teas are other common teas to find in blends (the label usually just says “African teas”). They add a beautiful ruby color and strong taste to what could otherwise be a very light tasting tea. Other blends highlight various taste, aroma, and color features. There’s one to suit every tea drinker’s fancy.
Still another reason to blend teas is to add in some non-tea thing (fruit, flowers, herbals, spices, etc.) to the tea with the goal of increasing health benefits, adding a non-tea flavor, etc. This is where things can get a bit carried away, with the limit being the blender’s imagination (and sense of decency). I’ve had teas blended with sweet potato, artichoke, apples, blueberries, cinnamon, cranberries, chai spices, white cucumber, jasmine, sesame, pomegranate, and more. Fortunately, they weren’t all in the same tea at the same time! It does bring to mind the possibility of some rather unexpected combinations, and even some that would be better off never coming into being.
Here are a few of these “manic” combo possibilities:
- Tea with pineapple, green pepper, and grapefruit.
- Tea with cinnamon, turmeric, and bananas.
- Tea with garlic and grapes.
- Tea with onion and strawberry.
- Tea with a flavoring that tastes like sour cream.
- Tea with mustard and cherry.
- Tea with ketchup and nutmeg.
- Tea with sardines, anise, and brown sugar.
Of course, I realize that in some cultures these combos might appeal. After all, in some countries they eat ice cream flavored with fish and candies containing lizard and other exotic ingredients (I’ve even tried some of these on occasion). For me, though, with my tendency toward more British-style teas, these taste sensations are a bit too “out there.”
Here’s hoping that all of you tea blenders don’t get too carried away. If you do, though, don’t tell me about it. I’d rather live in blissful ignorance!
Unlike many tea blends, A.C.’s blog is never over the top. Check it out today!