If you think you know your teas, you may be ready for my favorite part of tea- coming up with new blends. I love thinking about different teas, and which ones would taste right together. If you have a few ideas for tea blends which may combine some of our teas into something superior, or which simply better suits your taste and lifestyle, I have a little advice.
Firstly, don’t be afraid to come into the shop, especially when it’s slow. The first half of the week, for reference, and especially right in the middle of the day, tends to be the slowest. Stop in on your lunch break. We are more than happy to blend your tea right there in the shop, though if it’s a riskier blend, we may recommend that you bring home separate bags, to mix at home in whatever proportion you find to suit you best.
If you’re shopping online, you don’t exactly have that luxury. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t experiment with new blends. You’ll simply have to order all of the parts separately, and blend them at home. Or, you can try one of the many blends which we’ve already come up with in the shop.
Blending new teas isn’t too terribly difficult. Gentle Slumber, Ginger’s Island, Lakeside Calm, C of Tranquility, and Earl Grey with Lavender, both with and without caffeine, are all teas which we’ve come up with in the shop.
Gentle Slumber is the best sleep tea we could think of. It is chamomile, which has been used as a sleep aid since the Egyptians, and plain rooibos, which has a pleasant, relaxing taste, and no caffeine.
Ginger’s Island is a ginger tea which does not taste too much like ginger. Ginger is excellent for stomach aches, but has a strong taste. When it is blended with coconut and other tropical fruits, though, it tastes more tropical than medicinal.
Lakeside calm is made from simpler ingredients than most of our other teas. Lemongrass, lavender, and especially hibiscus all have very strong tastes on their own, and not many people like to drink them plain. Together, though, they create an herbal blend which is neither too tart, nor too floral.
C of Tranquility, much like Ginger’s Island, was blended in order to contain lemongrass, which is very high in vitamin C, and chamomile, but without tasting particularly medicinal. The answer was to include a tinsane base, full of blueberries. The resulting tea is one of our best-selling teas.
Earl Grey with Lavender was simply a popular enough request that we had to start keeping it pre-blended in the shop.
I myself have also come up with a few blends which we do not officially carry, but whose recipes I am very open with, and which we are more than happy to make up for you in the shop. My favorite is a tea designed for people who work hard, but aren’t the best at taking care of themselves. I’ve named it the Wellesley Effect, after my own college experience. While the recipe is by no means set in stone, it looks a little something like this:
5 parts mate, a high-caffeine herb similar to but not quite like tea. This forms the base of the Wellesley Effect. If you’d like to know more about it, we’ve written an entire post on the subject here.
3 parts Osprey Gunpowder Green- Because Mate isn’t a true tea, it doesn’t contain L-Theanine, an amino acid which assists with focus. I therefore wanted a green tea, which tend to be highest in L-Theanine. I chose Osprey Gunpowder because the tightly rolled leaves hold up to the heat required to brew the herbal elements of this tea better than any other would.
1 part each of Hibiscus, Lemongrass, Fine Cut Ginger, and Rooibos. The hibiscus and lemongrass are both high in vitamin C, to sustain your immune system while you go about doing the strenuous things that you’re doing with all of that caffeine. Ginger, meanwhile, is a natural way to soothe a sour stomach, which you’re likely to have if you’re stressed. The Rooibos has anti-inflammatory properties, which should help prevent headaches.
On the whole, this tea was blended to help people do very stressful things just a little better.
There are two other teas which I have yet to properly blend, but which I think will do well. The first is Lapsang Souchong, a smoky black tea, in equal parts with Hot Cinnamon Spice, our best-selling cinnamon tea. The smokiness of the Lapsang should counteract the sweetness of the cloves, creating something more dignified and dark. The addition of various spices is another way to be more creative with your teas, and an extra kick of cinnamon to taste may improve this tea further.
The other is equal parts Orange Blossom Oolong and Black Currant tea. I recently tried a honey made by bees who were raised in orange orchards over blackberries, and the result was so stunning that I had to figure out how to make it into a tea. The combination of these two is my best guess so far. Try adding a bit of honey to complete the effect.
MORE GENERAL TIPS
If you’re trying to create a new tea, we recommend that you don’t mix too much at once, in case you find that the proportions should have been different. Instead, buy all of the ingredient teas separately, and brew one cup at a time of your experimental blends. Keep track of how much of each you’re using, and don’t mix the rest until you’re certain that you have it right.
Be careful as well when mixing different teas with different brewing requirements. Black teas and herbals should be brewed at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, for five minutes for black teas, and seven minutes of herbals. Green and white teas, however, should be brewed at 185, and for 2-3 minutes. Otherwise, they will taste bitter and astringent. It is generally best to mix teas with similar brewing requirements, and to find a compromise for teas with components which have different brewing requirements.
You’ll generally want to be careful with hibiscus, ginger, and Lapsang Souchong, all of which have very strong flavors. It is safer to start with lavender and chamomile, which can be added to most teas to create nice blends. And, if you’re looking for a base for something with a particularly strong taste, the mildness of plain rooibos is a good place to start.
Tell us about the mixes and blends you’ve tried, and how they went, in the comments below.