My experimenting with interesting tea blends came once I started dabbling with cooking. It was my freshman year of college I got into loose leaf tea, and my senior year I subscribed to bon appétit and started cooking/baking anything and everything I could. I started adding the fresh herbs, fruits, and spices I was cooking with into my teas. This idea expanded into creating a tea based around the meal that could be served as part of the experience. I think one of the best ways to create a blend you’ll enjoy is to base it on a dish you already enjoy. For example I once had an amazing raspberry rhubarb cobbler, and based a tea around it.
I used some raspberries and rhubarb, added cinnamon stick and a base of a black tea that had enough buttery notes to remind me of a crust. This is the fun part of the process, getting to know the teas in your collection well enough to select the perfect base to imitate the parts of the recipe you can’t use in the tea.
Learning more about the culinary world will always be beneficial when working with tea. I’ve found dealing with new flavors and techniques when cooking and baking brings much inspiration to brewing unique tea. There are also some things that are more tea-specific, for instance since you’re not consuming the meat of the fruit or vegetable, you’re really just looking to extract the essences into the tea liquor. So, if you’re looking to create a tea blend that has the taste of kiwi, you might want to look into using tomatillo rather than actual kiwi. Tomatillo handles the hot water better with a very similar taste when brewed.
As tea becomes more and more popular in the US, we’re going to see an increase in restaurants serving tea that compliments the dish. There is no reason to not get started now in your very own kitchen!