We have three main types of tea drinkers in our Café. Those that prefer plain teas, flavored teas, and caffeine free/decaffeinated teas. A few of the plain tea drinkers will crossover for an exceptional natural flavored tea.
A blend might be a combination of 2 to 4 teas to give a unique taste and strength, such as a Russian Caravan. There are two types of Russian Caravan, a fruity version and a smoky one. The blending of Keemum and Darjeeling is one of the fruity versions and with the addition of Lapsang Souchong you get the smoky one, which we blend in Parker and call Rasputin.
We thought that we could easily blend many different teas and found it was much harder than we envisaged. With Rasputin we were trying to get a smoky taste, without being so strong that the aroma was off putting before you experienced the taste. We succeeded!
A blend can also be of many different estates of the same tea to give a consistency of taste over many years, regardless of the current harvest. Good examples of this are Assam, Darjeeling, and black teas from Ceylon.
It could also be a blend of a tea, a sprayed on flavor, and the addition of a flavored fruit or herbal.
Lemon Grass Oolong is a greenish oolong that is sprayed with the oil of Bergamot, as used for an Earl Grey, and then blended with a lemon grass. This is a case where the lemon grass is really adding big time to the flavor, not as with the majority of the flavored teas, where the dried fruit, flowers are added to just “look nice”. It is delicious hot or cold and can be infused at least twice.
If you are just looking for a hot or cold tasty drink, and don’t need the caffeine or tea flavor, consider a blend of dried fruit or herbs. They are now becoming more sophisticated, by combining over 10 different ingredients, with some great tastes. In some ways it is easier to create a good flavor without the tea, as you don’t have to balance the strong tea with the other flavors. That’s why the more subtle flavors use white, green or greenish oolong tea.
Jasmine tea is very popular, and there are many different qualities. Here the sweet smelling jasmine flowers are rolled with the tea, white, green or oolong to give a delicious tea. The number of times the tea is rolled with the jasmine is dependant on the quality, and varies from 3 to 10, after which the jasmine is removed. Jasmine Dragon Pearls generally consist of 3 young green shoots that are hand rolled, and open up as the tea is brewed. If you like jasmine tea, this is close to the ultimate, as the rolling seems to keep in the flavor and it is fascinating to watch the pearls uncurl into “dragons”! The pearls can be infused 3 to 4 times, and I prefer to “wash” the pearls with a 30 second infusion, pouring off the liquor, and then re-infusing for 3 minutes. Fantastic taste, aroma, and no bitter after taste. The other alternative, not so sweet, is Jasmine Silver Needles, which is a white tea base and my favorite Jasmine.
We offer 6 different Earl Greys, Organic (most popular), Royalty which has less bergamot, Lavender, Cream, Pu Erh and decaffeinated. There are several stories that give the origins of this very popular tea. A British diplomat, according to one tale, saved the life of a very important Chinese Mandarin, and in return was given the recipe for the flavored tea. The diplomat was Earl Grey, who later became Prime Minister from 1830 to 1834.
The black tea is flavored with the oil of bergamot, which is pressed out of the rind of the bergamot fruit, a pear shaped citrus fruit grown in the Mediterranean. The different tastes of Earl Grey teas can be explained by the different types and quality of the base teas, plus the way the oil reacts with different teas. Also if it is really natural bergamot oil or synthetic, and the amount added.If Earl Grey is in the top three blended teas, what is more popular?
The answer is English Breakfast, or on the East Coast, Irish Breakfast. This is a typically an equal blend of Assam, an Indian tea, and a Ceylon blend. An Irish Breakfast is renowned to be stronger, especially in caffeine, and the percentage of Assam, a very strong malty tea, is increased, to the extent that some Irish Breakfast is just a blend of Assam teas.
As the name suggests the tea is ideal to have with a real English Breakfast, where there is high grease content in the rich and hearty plate of bacon, sausage, fried eggs, fried bread, mushrooms and tomatoes. If you have stayed in a B & B (bed & breakfast) in the UK you will understand how this tea, which I rarely drink on its own, is perfect with the breakfast. Our #1 selling tea for the last 8 years is our own blend called English Tealeaves Breakfast and is a blend of Assam, Ceylon and Nilgiri (S. India).
There are so many blends to try and then there are straight teas that are so fantastic on their own they need no alterations BUT they vary from year to year, such as my favorite, Darjeeling 1st Flush.