November 27, 2017
What is it Tea Blending?
Although though this might sound surprising, almost every tea on the market is actually a blend. In fact, a vast majority of tea that we see here in North America are actually blends from various estates, made up with combination of tea leaves with herbs, dried fruits, or other essential essences (i.e. Masala Chai, Earl Grey)
Tea blending is actually a very general term that could be any of the following:
- mixing only the pure tea leaves (called camellia sinensis) from different gardens, areas or countries to create a tea for a specific taste character (like breakfast teas),
- mixing tea leaves from the same producers to balance the flavor and adjust the quality (like mixing sencha leaves of different quality to regulate both the quality and the price), or
- scenting teas by adding dried flowers, spices or smoke and flavoring them with dried fruits and both natural and artificial flavors.
In Western countries, most of non-blended (pure) teas will hold a label "single origin“ or "single estate teas" to differentiate themselves as teas coming from a particular garden or farm and are not mixed with other leaves or herbs.
The Early Days of Tea Blending
Before we dive deeper into tea blending, a little bit first on its history...
Tea blending, in the broader sense, started back in the old China during the Wei and Jin dynasties where tea was mixed with other condiments. This tradition is alive even today among many Chinese ethnic minorities that still make tea with salt, butter or spices.
Even today, the traditionally blended Chinese teas contain only pure flowers or dried fruits like jujube, orange peel, longan, jasmine and chrysanthemum.
The Japanese, on the other hand, have a long tradition of blending Japanese green tea, with roasted brown rice to create the "genmaicha" tea. Modern Japanese blends usually include hojicha and dried fruits like apples, yuzu citrus or cherry blossoms. Even the famous pinewood-smoked "lapsang souchong" tea is considered a Chinese tea blend.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Did you learn something new from this post? What are your most favorite tea blends ever??
Next week, let's continue our Anatomy of Tea Blending blog series with Modern Day Tea Blending.