I feel like I should preface this by saying that I am not an expert. Everything you’ll find here is what I gathered from my own research and experience. And if you have any questions, feel free to send me a message! I’m happy to help with anything.
So, let’s dive into it.
When I first flirted with the idea of creating my own tea blends I read about it a lot. And I struggled a lot. Got confused. And mixed a few awful teas.
I think to a degree it is essential to make mistakes yourself to fully understand what you are doing, but of course, too many unpleasant cups of tea can be pretty disheartening. So I hope, when you venture out on your own tea blending adventure, you make a few mistakes, but not as many as I did. Learn from your and my mistakes alike 🙂
The first thing you should know about your tea is this: Do you want a tasty cup of tea, or a medicinal one?
Those two are not mutually exclusive, but it’s a helpful starting point, when you’d otherwise feel lost in the sea of possibilities. It’s where I start anyway. Is my throat sore, am I tired, or do I need something comforting? Once I know what I want my tea to do I can move forward.
- And here it helps to know at least the basic qualities of your ingredients. I’ll speak more about a few common ones a little further down.
- Choose a base and add-ins – the base is often the active component, while the add-ins can be supportive and complimentary. A rough ratio with which you can’t go wrong is 3 – 2 – 1. So 3 parts of the base, 2 parts of the supportive components, and 1 part of the complimentary ones.
- Make sure your components don’t contradict, and instead support each other.
- Follow your instincts.
- Start out with small quantities, in case you don’t like the blend.
- But write your combinations down! And write down your thoughts about it, after you shad a cup of it.
- Keep brewing times and temperatures in mind – never brew a green tea blend with water hotter than 80°C.
Common bases for culinary tea would be black tea, green tea and rooibos, which you can easily spice up with lavender, rose, chamomile, lemon/orange zest, cinnamon, or peppercorns.
Bases for medicinal tea are usually herbs, like lemon balm, peppermint, linden, tulsi, echinacea, or calendula.
Supportive ingredients could be: linden, yarrow, dandelion, rosemary, thyme or lemon grass
And complimentary: ginger, lavender, turmeric, cinnamon, or fennel
Okay, okay. So now we know a bit more than before, right? But enough? Maaybe? Or are you still not sure where to start exactly? After all, you don’t want to venture out and buy a bunch of loose leaf teas that in the end don’t blend well with one another. So I created this little list to give you an idea of what blends well with what base – for my taste buds. It might be different for you. This is where I encourage you to follow your instincts.
Black tea – peppercorn – rose – cacao nibs – vanilla – lemon zest – ginger – lavender -cardamon
Green tea – lavender – rose – lemon grass – lemon balm – peppermint – jasmine
Hibiscus – apple – rose hip – orange – peppermint – raspberry – cranberry – lemon – rose
Lemon balm/tulsi – chamomile – calendula – rose hip – linden – mate – peppermint – fennel seed
Rooibos – vanilla – lavender – rose – dried strawberry – orange – cinnamon
Finding the perfect matches for a base tea has a lot to do with how the tea feels to you.
To me, black tea feels full, deep, grounding.
Rooibos feels calming, warm, whole.
Herbal tea feels grassy, healthy.
Fruit tea feels refreshing, sweet, comforting, adventurous.
Does that make sense?
If it does, and if those base teas feel similar to you, you might want to start with some of the ingredients I suggested. And if not, just ask your taste buds what they think would pair well with black tea, or hibiscus and let your imagination run wild.
You can be as adventurous as you like. Calendula and peppermint tea? Rose hip and green tea? Sounds all exciting to me!
Here are a few possible tea blends based off the lists above, to give you an idea of what’s possible.
- 1 part black tea, 1 inch of ginger, a pinch of peppercorns
- 1 part black tea, 1/2 part rose
- 2 parts green tea, 1 part lemon grass, 1 part peppermint, 1/2 part lemon zest
- 2 parts hibiscus, 1 part rose, 1/2 part rose hips
- 1 part hibisucs, 1/2 part peppermint
- 1 part lemon balm, 1 part calendula, 1/4 part fennel seed, 1/4 part chamomile
- 1 part rooibos, 1 part dried strawberries, 1 part orange zest
- 1 part rooibos, 1 inch of vanilla bean, 1 pinch of lavender
But really, your options are endless!
Now let’s talk basic qualities of possible tea ingredients.
Black tea: stimulating, contains about half as much caffeine per cup as coffee, because of tanning agents the caffeine is absorbed a lot slower, so the energy boost you get is slow and steady instead of spiking
Green tea: high in antioxidants, amino acids and tanning agents, soothes upset stomachs, help with digestion, calms down and focuses, slow, steady energy boost
Rooibos: no caffeine, no tanning agents, thus no bitterness, no matter how long it steeps, rich in antioxidants and minerals, soothes central nervous system, promotes relaxation
Peppermint: antibacterial, helps clearing throat, cooling effect, eases tension
Lemon balm: antiviral, antioxidant and calmative properties, can help with anxiety, insomnia, enhances mood, relieves indigestion
Hibiscus: rich in vitamin C, lowers high blood pressure, antibacterial
Ginger: warming, helps with nausea
Mate: contains caffeine, helps with digestion, and supports metabolism
Calendula: astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibiotic properties make it great to sip when having gum problems, stimulates blood circulation, helps with upset stomachs, fever, (PMS) cramps, colds
Chamomile: very mild, promotes relexation, boosts immunity, relieves anxiety, aids sleep
Rose: antioxidant thanks to vitamin C, helps with menstrual cramps. calming, helps with fatigue
Rose hip: particularly high in vitamin C
And lastly, here are a few other sites that provide useful insights into the world of tea.
Learn more about preparing medicinal teas.
Applying the concept of head-, middle- and base notes from perfumery to the magic of blending tea.
More insight into blending herbal teas.
5 different tea blends using 5 staple ingredients, you probably already have in your kitchen or garden.
Make your own chamomile tea.
I hope that was an helpful insight into the magic of blending tea! Now, who wants a cup? Me, definitely. And make sure to let me know when you discover a new favourite tea blend! I’m dying to know what you can come up with.
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