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The Art of Tea Blending

Tea blending is an art form as much as it is science. It’s probably an impression that you can take the finest ingredients, mix them all together and you have the best tea blend that money can buy. This gives the wrong idea about tea blending. The mark of any good tea blend is balance. Tea blending is imaginative and yet cautious at the same time.

Let’s say I am blending a rose and cardamom black tea with a touch of mango. Rose is the most delicate ingredient among the three. Hence, I will be careful to use a mildly flavoured cardamom so that spice does not overpower the flower. Mango will add a touch of tartness to this tea blend and too much of it could make the blend sour. Hence, among the three ingredients, the proportion of mango will be the lowest. This example gives you a window in the mind of a tea blender. Everything is about balancing the flavours. You want each one to shine while lending itself to a wholesome tea blend. Sometimes you have to choose ingredients that are not the most potent in flavour, or else it will usurp your tea blend.

Have you ever tasted natural vanilla bean? Have you bit into a lemon peel? Do you know the taste of long pepper? In tea blending, understanding the flavour family is extremely important. As tea blenders, we build our flavour vocabulary. The main categories are base teas, spices, fruits, flowers and herbs.

Base teas refer to the origin of the tea, which region it comes from and the nuances it brings along with it. For example, Assam Black Tea, Darjeeling Green Tea. Spices are the easiest to work with because they release their natural oils when steeped in hot water and add rich flavour to the tea; meaning that spices like Cinnamon, Star anise, Cloves, Fruits can be deceptive. You might think of berries as sweet, but when you actually taste a dried berry without any added sugar, it is tart in flavour. Fruits like Orange, Pineapple, Apple are easy to use for this tea blend.

Flowers should be blended with extreme care. The delicate flavour can be easily lost if paired with strong flavours. Jasmine, Lavender, Chamomile fall into these categories.

Herbs like Mint, Lemongrass and Sage add a punchy flavour to the tea. Most often they uplift the entire blend with their refreshing notes.

Here are some blends you can try making on your own. Each recipe makes 100 gms of tea which makes about 50 cups of tea. Please make sure each blend is stored in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight and moisture, for 4-5 days. After this time, the flavours infuse and your tea blend is ready for sipping. Enjoy!

How to blend Orange peel, Star anise, Cinnamon in Black tea:
60 gms Assam Orthodox Black Tea
20 gms Orange bits
10 gms Crushed cinnamon
10 gms bits of star anise

  • Store in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight and moisture, for 4-5 days
  • Use hot water (100 degrees) and steep for 3-4 mins

How to blend Lemongrass and Spearmint Green Tea:
50 gms Japanese Sencha or Darjeeling Green Tea
30 gms lemongrass
20 gms spearmint

  • Store in an airtight container, away from direct sunlight and moisture, for 4-5 days
  • Use water which is at less than boiling point (roughly 80 degrees) and steep for 2-3 mins

Authored by Snigdha Manchanda, India’s first certified tea sommelier and founder of the tea brand, Tea Trunk. This article was originally published on Hindustan Times


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