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History of Tea Blending

Tea blends came about for two reasons; first to introduce new and unique tastes, aromas, and textures to a cup of tea. This is the fun, creative, and/or medicinal aspect of tea blending. 

Secondly, tea blends make it possible to have absolute consistency in a pot of tea; from cup to cup, year to year, decade to decade. Since tea is an agricultural crop it can vary from year to year. It is only through blending various ingredients to balance the blend that this consistency can be achieved.

Purists may turn up their noses at tea blends; but the enjoyment of tea blends is almost as old as the discovery of tea itself. The Chinese have been making tea blends for 2500 years. The first book on tea, The Classic of Tea, by Lu Yu published around 760 A.D. talks of many items (mostly herbs and medicinals) that can be blended with tea. Two of the most famous tea blends are Jasmine tea and Earl Grey tea, both going back hundreds of years.

Traditionally, a given geographic area would blend into their tea whatever was produced or available locally. Southeastern China would blend in orange peels from their citrus groves. Tibet would blend in yak butter and salt. Indians would blend in local spices like cardamom, pepper, ginger. Eastern Europeans would blend in local fruits and berries.

To get a deeper look into Chinese teas, be sure to watch owner Bill Waddington in the PBS documentary about tea "Leaves of Change." Watch it here.

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