How I Taste Tea, Herbs, and Other Blend Ingredients

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve recently been exploring unorthodox yet purposeful tea blends.  These blends usually start with a tea base I very much enjoy along with rather non-traditional blend ingredients such as raisins, carrots, and parsley.  Sometimes I just throw in a pinch of this and that, much like I do when cooking.  However, if I think I’m on to something I may want to remember, I have a slightly more structured way of recording the recipe.

First, I must know the base tea I plan to use very well.  It’s always a tea I enjoy, but it can’t be perfect otherwise there would be little reason to tamper with it.  So I must know how I would enjoy the base tea more. Perhaps a little sweeter, or maybe a longer finish. I then steep the foreign ingredient all by itself, starting with two cups, one with water at about 180°F and the second at about 212°F.  I then start taking color, nose, and taste notes after about 2 minutes and each minute after that until about 7 minutes.  I don’t always take incredibly detailed notes, in fact they often look like the beer reviews on sites like Beer Advocate.

I note all differences that I detect at each minute to find the optimal brew time.  You must always match ingredients and teas correctly based on the tea’s steep time.  For example, if you find that radishes taste best when steeped at 212°F for 8 minutes, it isn’t best to pair that with a white tea that brews best at 175°F for 2 minutes.

These are just some tips I found along the way of brewing uncommon teas from common ingredients, please explore and judge teas based on your own palate and feel free to share any tips you’ve found in the comments or on twitter!

Here is a picture of my most recent brew with parsley: