Blending tea (or tisanes) is a fun way of exploring different tastes and making something unique and special. A personal blend can make an intimate gift to a friend or lover. It can meet your exact needs and tastes and it is easy and fun to do!
At Impala + Peacock we have been blending our own teas and tisanes since the beginning. Here are a few tips we've picked up along the way:
Many things can be used for blends - be creative and adventurous (please use common sense at the same time as not everything is edible, do some research if unsure). Almost all spices, dried herbs and many flowers can work. A spice store or Indian supermarket are excellent places to begin or even your own garden. We strongly recommend using organic ingredients where possible as it's healthier and usually much stronger in flavour and aroma. Ensure that all the ingredients are dried.
Decide what the intent of your blend is. Deciding on your intent will guide your choice of ingredients. A medicinal blend would be very different to a blend that is created to look and smell appealing. A caffeine free tisane would not use tea for a base whereas a pick-me-up blend would.
Some ingredients extract stronger than others (e.g. lavender, spices etc.). To avoid an unbalanced blend where one ingredient is over-powering, we recommend following a simple ratio of 70% "base" ingredients and 30% "heart" or "top note" ingredients (by volume not weight). A base ingredient is one that you would be able to have a whole pot of by itself. The base must not be over-powering but have enough complexity to combine the other ingredients together. Rooibos, tea (white, green, black etc.) and chamomile make great bases. Heart and top notes are those that offer more pronounced flavour that could overwhelm. Pepper, chili, lavender and lemon peel are all heart or top note ingredients.
Chai is a good example of a blend that follows this ratio; 70-80% of a chai is black tea and 20-30% is a mix of spices (ginger, cardamon, cloves, pepper, cinnamon etc.)
Consider how the ingredients would mix. If you select a base with large fluffy leaves (e.g. peppermint) and mix pepper into it, the small, dense pepper particles would likely drop to the bottom of the jar and result in a poorly mixed blend. This would require regular mixing and caution when spooning out the mix. This can be avoided by mixing ingredients together that have similar sized leaves or parts.
You may want to give some consideration to the temperatures at which the ingredients should steep at and ensuring that they are consistent. For example if a green tea is used as the base then the steep temperature would be limited to 75-80 C. Most herbs, flowers and spices will take high temperatures and will not burn and become bitter like tea leaves, however it's best to test each on a case-by-case basis if in doubt.
Lastly don't be overly caution. Have fun, explore and be prepared to try something new and different. You may just create your next favourite drink!
If you are looking for some help or want to expand your library of ingredients, we run one-on-one blending sessions in Brunswick, follow this link to find out more Blending Classes.