The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Blended Teas - The Painstaking Process
Of Creating Classic Blends
Just like wine harvests, tea harvests also vary from year to year.  Changes in
weather, soil, even slight differences in manufacturing means that like wine, no
two teas are ever identical from one harvest to another.

Even though it's fun to try new
teas each year, there are times
when you just want to reach for
a particular tea and know exactly what it will taste
like.  You want to know that the Earl Grey or
English Breakfast
blended tea is the same strength
and flavor as the last package you bought.

But it is no easy matter to produce a blend of teas
that is always uniform
from one batch to an-
other.  Tea blenders
can taste hundreds of
different teas, all from
different seasons, es-
tates, and regions,
sometimes combining
up to 35 various teas to find just the right mix for a particular recipe.

                                                Tea tasters work under a strict set of rules when setting up the
                                                samples to be evaluated for the various tea blends.  Dry leaf teas
                                                are place in their containers in a row on a tasting bench, where a
                                                carefully measured amount of tea (5.2 - 5.6 g/0.18 - 0.2 oz) is
                                                placed in a special lidded brewing mug.  Boiling water is added if
                                                
brewing black tea and slightly cooler water added for green teas,
                                                and a timer is set for five to six minutes, or less for some types of
                                                
green tea.

When the teas have finished steeping, the mugs are tipped over onto
a tasting bowl where the serration in the lip allows the tea to empty
into the bowl.  The tea taster then quickly slurps a spoonful of tea into
his mouth, rolling it around to get the full flavor, before spitting it into
a mobile spittoon which runs along the bench.

The tea taster not only samples the flavor of the teas, but also ob-
serves the appearance of the dry and wet tea leaves, as well as the
aroma of the wet leaf and tea liquor.

Once he decides on the right recipe for each blend, the chosen teas are placed in a large funnel
shaped hopper where they are mixed together to form the finished blend.  The completed
tea
blend is then packed in the usual manner and shipped to the tea seller.
Classic Tea Blends
                                                Different countries have developed their own unique taste pre-
                                                ferences and traditions for the kind of tea they like and drink the
                                                world over, starting with the British.

                                                The British lean toward strong and robust teas to get them going
                                                in the morning.  And so, English Breakfast teas are traditionally
                                                made up of a blend of strong, black teas.  In Britain, English
                                                Breakfast blend is usually made of
Assam tea for its smoothness,
Kenya tea for its strength, and Sri Lanka
tea for its briskness.  

American blends of English Breakfast usually
begin with a base of
China Keemun black
tea, and then build the tea blend based on
the preferences of each individual blender.

Irish Breakfast is similar to English Breakfast
blended tea-strong and robust, with a larger
portion of Kenya tea and usually black
Indonesia teas.

Indian Breakfast is usually a combination of
one of three tea blends:  
Darjeeling and
Assam black tea, Assam and
Nilgiri, or a mix
of all three teas.  Indian Breakfast is lighter
than either English or Irish Breakfast blend-
ed teas.

                                  Earl Grey is probably the best
                                  known
blended tea of all.  This
                                  universal tea blend is known
                                  the world over, its traditional flavor made of
China black teas and essen-
                                  tial oil of bergamot, a citrus-like fruit similar to an orange.

                                  Today Earl Grey blended teas are also made with a base of
green or
                                  
oolong tea, and is available decaffeinated as well as the standard black
                                  caffeinated Earl Grey tea blend.

                                  Russian consumers grew to love the strong black smoky teas and they
have been in demand worldwide ever since.  Today, in order to closely replicate the smoky
flavor, a small amount of
Lapsang Souchong is usually added to the blend.  Enjoy.
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