Creating Your Very Own Tea Blends

A while ago I bought a bag of the amazing Oprah Chai tea sold at Teavana (review coming soon). Spooning the tea into the strainer and curiously looking at the spices and seeds in between the leaves, I began to ponder to myself. A thought came to mind that this marvelous Chai tea could probably be recreated for more than half the price than purchased. Then came the revelation, I should start blending my own teas! Since then I have never looked back. So here’s a guide for you to start blending your very own teas:

  1. Buy your base tea (These are the 5 types of teas from the previous post). Don’t go crazy and buy all the bases at once, start off with buying one tea base! I started with black tea. You might also find that brewing your own tea is not your thing and then you have bags of tea to get through. Not ideal.
  2. Start building your spice collection! Buy some spice jars and store your spices in a cool dry space. Buy the more exotic spices from ethnic food markets or specialty spice stores. If you have green fingers then grow your own spices fresh, throw them in as and when you need them or drying them for later use.???????????????????????????????
  3. Buy tea storage canisters to store the new blends you are going to be creating. If you want to give your tea as gifts, buy cloth bags and decorate as you please! Most my friends don’t have tea pots so I bought 100 count fabric teabags online.
  4. Get creative! Remember to write down what proportions you are using so you can recreate it again.

If you need some help starting out, I will be posting my own recipes soon for you to follow along with.

Drink on!

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A Guide to Teapots

So you went to a tea shop, impressed the sales associate with your knowledge about the different types of tea and you proudly walked out with your very own bag of beautiful tea leaves! Now it’s time to brew it. “I don’t have a teapot!” I hear you cry. Well then, here’s a quick guide to the different materials teapots can come in and what type suits you best. If you have your very own teapot already, you may find this interesting anyways.

Before I dive into different materials, you need to think about size. Whether you are brewing for just you or for your whole family will depend on the size of teapot you need to buy. Here is my smaller ceramic teapot (20 oz) and if you’re like me and enjoy sharing multiple cups with a friend then this is a good size.

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Cast Iron

Probably the most expensive of all the types of teapots. It holds heat very well and distributes the heat evenly. These teapots can also be very heavy and if a low quality it can influence the taste of the tea, leaving a metallic taste. These are also on the heavier side and usually more decorative.

Ceramic

A more affordable teapot. Make sure it is glazed on the inside or the ceramic will absorb the tea affecting the taste of other teas you brew in it. Its heat retention is not as high as cast iron but is better than most other materials.

Porcelain

White clay pots have lower heat retention and so are not great for tea requiring higher heat like black tea for example. However unlike ceramic, porcelain does not absorb the flavor of your tea.

Clay (Yixing)

Unglazed clay teapots are usually used when you have a favorite blend of tea, the unglazed teapot takes on the flavor of your favorite tea and enhances the flavor. Making different types of tea in unglazed teapots is not recommended.

Glass

These allow you to see your tea leaves as you steep them, especially the blooming teas which open as they are steeped. These do not hot heat as well so a teapot warmer is ideal if you are going to purchase a glass teapot.


So there you go, the styles of different teapots! A couple of tips to end off with are make sure your teapot has a removable strainer as it makes cleaning the teapot a lot easier. Never heat your water in the teapot, these teapots are for steeping only and are not meant for the stove top. Purchase a separate tea kettle and pour in your water from there.

Drink on!

The Five Types of Tea

Camellia sinensis or what we commonly call tea (or rosy lee if you’re into your rhyming slang), originated from Asia and has been drank in China for centuries. It rose to popularity in the 17th Century by the British and we haven’t stopped drinking it since! Now, be honest, have you ever been in a tea shop and looked at the different names of tea completely bewildered? Well I have, so look no further! I’m here to help. Let’s start with the basics: What are the main types of tea, what makes them different and what do they taste like?

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Black Tea

First the one we all know and love, black tea. To get those beautiful dark leaves it is withered, rolled and oxidized. Now, I’m not going to go into these processes in detail but it basically means it is dried, left in a climate controlled room and then rolled to get what you seen in your tea bags. There are many different types of black tea but the most popular are those produced in India and Sri Lanka the most well known being Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon. These teas tend to be full bodied, strong and have great aromas.

Green Tea

A tea that has an ever growing popularity due to its health benefit is green tea. Modern methods steam the leaves then they are rolled and dried. Green tea has a fresh flavor and often is combined with different fruits and flowers. If steeped too long green tea can become very bitter, usually the higher quality green teas need less steeping time.

White Tea

White teas are produced by baking, lightly rolling and drying the leaves and buds of the tea plant giving it a white appearance. It has a milder and delicate flavor compared to black tea. The most well known white tea is the Silver Needle tea, which is a more rare tea. To get an idea of price I compared Assam with Silver Needle on a reputable tea website. Assam sells for $3.14/oz and Silver Needle sells for a whopping $12.86/oz. Wow.

Oolong Tea

Now we get into the names of tea which aren’t self explanatory. Oolong tea takes the longest of all the teas to be processed. It is bruised, partially oxidized, baked, rolling (sometimes into little balls) and dried. They are lighter, smooth and depending on their variety they have fruity, woody or floral aromas. The most well known oolong tea is the monkey picked oolong tea. Nowadays it just means it is high quality oolong tea but legend says that Buddhist Monks trained monkeys to pick the most quality leaves from the top of the tea trees.

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh tea is sometimes confused for black tea. The difference being it is not fully oxidized and is fermented for many years instead. The Yunnan province in China produces the majority of pu-erh tea. They have more mellow and earthy tones. It is claimed to be good for weight loss but I am not a nutritionist so I’m not going to comment on this.


Well there you go five of the more popular categories of tea that you may encounter when you walk into those tea shops. So, instead of trying all the samples and running out, now you’ll have more of an idea of what you’re drinking. Now, some of you well versed tea drinkers might be saying what about herbal or rooibos teas? Well these teas aren’t from the camellia sinensis family so I haven’t included them in the post. Wait! I hear someone cry, what about yellow or blooming teas. Well these teas are more rare and that’s for another time.

Drink on