Tea blending and additives

Tea blending describes the process of blending different teas together to produce a final product. This occurs chiefly with black tea that is blended to make most tea bags but can also occur with such teas as Pu-erh, where leaves are blended from different regions before being compressed. The aim of blending is to create a well balanced flavour using different origins and characters. This also ensures that variation in quality and from season to season can be ironed out. The one golden rule of blending is this: Every blend must taste the same as the previous one, so a consumer will not be able to detect a difference in flavour from one purchase to the next. There are various teas which have additives and/or different processing than "pure" varieties. Tea is able to easily receive any aroma, which may cause problems in processing, transportation or storage of tea, but can be also advantageously used to prepare scented teas. Tea is usually flavoured in large blending drums with perfumes, flavourants, and essential oils added. Although blending and scenting teas can add an additional dimension to tea, the process is often used to cover and obscure the quality of sub-standard teas.

Varieties of blended tea

; "Breakfast" : Generally a blend of different black teas that are robust and full-bodied, and go well with milk. Some types are "English Breakfast", "Irish Breakfast" and "Scottish Breakfast". ; "Afternoon tea" : These blends (of black teas) are generally lighter than breakfast blends. Both breakfast and afternoon blends are popular in the British Isles.; "Russian Caravan" : A popular blend, Russian Caravan harks back to the days when tea was hauled to Russia from China on camelback. It often contains a bit of smoky Lapsang Souchong, though its base is typically Keemun or Dian Hong. Some also contain Oolong.

cented teas

Although, many teas are still flavoured directly with flowers, herbs, spices, or even smoke, teas with more specialized flavours are produced through the addition of flavourants or perfumes. This is particularly true for tea blends with pronounced fruit or flower aromas, which cannot be achieved with the original ingredients. Due to the amount of scents that can be produced by the mentioned artificial methods, the section will concentrate on teas flavoured directly with the original scent materials.

Flowers

A variety of flowers are used to flavor teas. Although flowers are used to scent teas directly, most flower scented teas on the market utilize perfumes and aromas to augment or replace the use of flowers. The most popular of these teas include the flowers of the following:

*"Jasmine" : Spread with jasmine flowers while oxidizing, and occasionally some are left in the tea as a decoration. Jasmine is most commonly used to flavour green teas although sometimes it is used to flavour light oolong teas such as baozhong tea
*"Osmanthus": In China, osmanthus tea (called guì huā chá, 桂花茶) is produced by combining dried Sweet Osmanthus ("Osmanthus fragrans") flowers (guì huā, 桂花) with black or green tea leaves in much the same manner the more familiar jasmine tea combines jasmine flowers with tea leaves. The flowers are spread while oxidizing, and occasionally some are left in the tea as a decoration. This flower gives the tea a mild peach flavor. It is the second most popular scented tea (after Jasmine) in China.
*"Rose" : Spread with Rose flowers while oxidizing, and occasionally some are left in the tea as a decoration. In China, roses are usually used to scent black tea and the resulting tea is called Rose Congou.
*"Chrysanthemum": The flowers are often brewed alone as a Chrysanthemum tisane, but it is also commonly mixed with pu-erh tea to make chrysanthemum pu-erh
*"Lotus": Vietnamese lotus tea is made by stuffing green tea leaves into the blossom of "Nelumbo nucifera" and allowing the scent to be absorbed overnight. Another common technique for making this tea is by jarring or baking the tea leaves with the fragrant stamens of the flower multiple times cite web |title=Vietnamese Tea |author= The Tao ofTea| url=http://www.taooftea.com/pgallery.php3?id=&group=Vietnamese+Tea&pgid=831|accessdate=2008-01-30]

Herbs

*"Mint": Known as touareg tea, this tea consists of a mixture of green teas and any variety of the Mint plants (known as "nana"). This tea is very popular in the Middle East and prepared in desert areas of North Africa.

Other flavorants

*"Citrus oil" : Best known of this class is "Earl Grey tea". They are typically a mix of black teas with blends essential oils of the citrus fruit bergamot added.
*"Smoke": The one type in this class is "Lapsang Souchong", which is produced by drying black tea over smoking pine needles, which produces a striking smoky odor and flavor. The best varieties are not overwhelmed by the smoke, but retain subtlety and a mix of other flavors. Lapsang Souchong is found in many Russian Caravan blends.
*Spice : Tea such as Indian and Middle Eastern chai, flavoured with sweet spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cassia, black pepper, clove, anise, fennel, Indian bay leaf and sometimes vanilla, nutmeg and mace.
*"Rum" : Jagertee is a tea with rum added.
*"Roasted grain": Genmaicha, a Japanese tea with roasted rice added to green tea, and favoured by adherents of a macrobiotic diet. Wheat and barley are also used to blend with tea

References

* [http://pages.ripco.net/~c4ha2na9/tea/faq.html Rec.food.drink.tea FAQ]
* [http://www.teatimeworldwide.com/About_Tea/tea-blending.html TeaTimeWorldWide.com article on tea blending]
* [http://www.blendsforfriends.com/bpages/tasting.html Notes from a Master Tea Blender]


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