The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Blended Teas
Creating a Unique Taste All Their Own
Ever since the Chinese first discovered tea, they've been adding flavorings,
either by blending flowers, fruits, herbs, or spices to the processed leaves, or
by adding additional ingredients to the boiling water used to
brew tea.

Processed black, green, and oolong teas are used as a base, then blended to-
gether with spices, herbs, flowers, or essential fruit oils to create a unique one-
of-a-kind
flavored tea.
Classic Tea Blends
One of the most popular and recognizable
tea blends is Earl Grey.  Using a traditional
blend of China and
Indian teas, Earl Grey is
flavored with essential oil from the citrus-like
bergamot fruit, which tastes something like
an orange.

There are lots of tales about how Earl Grey
tea came to be named.  One tells of a British
diplomat on a mission to
China who saved
the life of a Mandarin.  Deeply grateful, the
Mandarin gave a recipe for the flavored tea
to the diplomat, and also as a gift to the
then Prime Minister, Earl Grey, who served
from 1830 to 1834.
Another version tells of how it was the Earl himself who saved the Mandarin's
life, and so was given the recipe as thanks.  Yet another story tells of how the
recipe was a gift to the Prime Minister at the end of a successful diplomatic
mission.

None of the stories are likely true.  But no matter what really happened, the
truth of the matter is that Earl Grey is one of the most popular blends ever
marketed.  Today several different types of Earl Grey are available using
China tea,
Darjeeling, Ceylon, Silver Tip, and smoked, Lapsang Souchong
(or Tarry Lapsang) tea.
Less is More
                                                 Depending on the amount of bergamot oil used, Earl Grey tea
                                                 can taste incredibly good, or absolutely horrible.  If too much oil
                                                 is used, the tea can taste a lot like dish soap, or too little, and
                                                 you may as well drink straight tea.  When done right though,
                                                 you have a wonderfully refreshing tea with a light citrusy
                                                 flavor.  

                                                 Another version you might also like to try is
Yunnan Earl Grey
(Roi des Earl Grey), a blend made with
black China tea from Yunnan and also scented with
bergamot oil.  Again, when properly blended with just the right amount of bergamot oil, you get
that light, fresh citrus flavor that tastes so refreshing and good.

          Some other
popular blends are:       

                   -   English Breakfast
                   -   Irish Breakfast
                   -   Afternoon Blend (Five-O-Clock tea)
                   -   and Russian Caravan (also called
                        Lapsang Souchong or Tarry Lap-
                        sang

          Breakfast blends are meant to go with
          heavy, fatty foods like bacon and eggs,
          sausage, smoked meats and fish.  

          Afternoon or Five-O-Clock blends are
          usually lighter than breakfast blends,
          containing Darjeeling, China,
Formosa,
          and lighter Ceylon teas, often with just
          a hint of bergamot oil or jasmine added.  

                                            As its name suggests, Russian Caravan (also called
Lapsang
                                            Souchong) is a blend that was recreated for the taste preferences
                                            of the Russians who drank China tea that was carried by camel
                                            from the Russian/China border.  This heavy, smoky blend is usually
                                            made up of black or Formosa tea, with a hint of Lapsang Souchong
                                            or Tarry Lapsang.

                                            Russian Caravan is a
blended tea that you will either love or hate.
                                            When done properly it will have a wonderfully sweet and smoky
                                            aroma, and subtle flavors of fruit and spice, with hints of orange
                                            and cloves.  

          Lesser quality Russian Caravan teas will have a strong meaty smell like that of smoked
          bacon or meat, and the strong smell of tar.  

          This is just a sampling of some of the classic, traditional
          blends that are available.  There are, of course, many more
          to choose from, so get out there and look around.  I'm bett-
          ing there are some that will be on your list of favorite teas
          someday, too.
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But in the meantime if there are favorite flavors you'd like to incorporate into your own recipe, visit our Make Your Own
Blended Fillable Tea Bags page and learn how to make your own personal blended and flavored teas using
ingredients you likely have right now in your own kitchen cupboard.  
Enjoy.