“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others,
faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
I Peter 4:10
This week I had the opportunity to do a demonstration “Herbs & Tea” – An overview of blending for fun and flavor – at the Ormond Beach Public Library plus share in their lovely tea party with scones and sweets as the participants tasted these two blends we prepared together:
3/4c honeybush tea
1/4c lemon grass
2Tbs lemon verbena
2Tbs lemon myrtle
1Tbs ginger root
1Tbs licorice root
3/4c green rooibos
1Tbs lemon myrtle
1Tbs rose petals
1Tbs rose hips
Although a single herb is the best way to appreciate the pure flavor of a tea and herbal infusions or tisanes, combinations of two or more can result in an infinite variety of taste sensations. Because of the number of teas and herbs, there is a flavor for every palate including fruity, lemony, minty, floral and spicy.
Blending is the simply the art of adding more than one ingredient together to create a personal signature blends. Custom blends are a wonderful and healthy gift. Once you discover the art of blending, you'll probably prefer the made-to-order tastes and subtle accents you can create yourself. Experiment!!
1. Start by sampling some “simples” – single teas and herbs - and get familiar with the various flavors. This is a great way to get to know their characteristics
2. Keep your ingredients separate, in original package until needed; bring to blending table only what you're going to use to avoid contamination with aromas, taste, etc.
3. Choose a base for your blend – this will help to give it body. You can choose from the following depending on what type of blend you want to create:
Rooibos Tea - Red Tea (Aspalathus linearis) – the leaves/needle are used to produce a cool, sweet, refreshing flavor which is naturally caffeine free, low in tannins with body like black tea
Blends: floral, mint and spice
Honeybush (Cyclopia intermedia) – leaves, stems and flowers used to produce a full bodied brew which is honey-like, smooth and sweet with spicy undertones which is naturally caffeine free and low in tannins
Blends: fruit and lemon
Tea (Camellia sinensis) - leaves produce a light to full bodied brew and contains caffeine, tannins & essential oils
Blends: black – herbs/spices, ooking – fruit/lemon and green – floral/mint
4. Choose one flavor or family of flavors and use about three parts of your dominant ingredient(s).
Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) – also called Roselle, the red flower calyxe are used to produce a tart & tangy deep red infusion
Blends: Combines well with lemon herbs, mints, cranberry juice, and cinnamon. Lends it self well to any fruity blend.
Rosehips (Rosa canina) – the fruit of roses is used to produce a red tea with a mildly tart fruity-citrus flavor.
Blends: Combines well in fruit and herb blends
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – the fresh leaves are used to produce a lemony flavor especially sweetened with honey
Blends: Dried leaves add body to blends.
Lemongrass (Cynbopogon citratus) – The grass blades are used either fresh or dried to produce a lemon taste without the tanginess
Blends: Combines well with other lemon herbs and mint
Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora) - the leaves have an intense refreshing lemon-lime aroma and taste
Blends: Adds a lemony zip to tea blends.
Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) – the leaves are used fresh to make a strong lemon flavored tea most like oil of lemon
Blends: herb teas made with licorice, mint or other lemon herbs
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) – leaves are used to produce a subtle lemon-minty relaxing tea.
Blends: Dried catnip is slightly bitter, best blended with other herbs
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – the leaves are used to produce a cool, fresh,minty yet pungent brew
Blends: Combines well with other mints and fruit juices especially pineapple juice plus makes a wonderfully refreshing iced tea
Spearmint (Mentha cardiaca) – the leaves are used to produce a cool fresh mint taste
Blends: Excellent blending herb that has a milder, cooler flavor than peppermint & combines well with orange, hibiscus, and green tea.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – small, daisy-like flowers are used to produce a light sweet, apple like taste and aroma
Blends: Combines well with lemon herbs, mints or hibiscus flowers
Jasmine flower (Jasminum officinale) – the fragrant blossoms are used to produce delicate fruity and floral notes
Blends: The classic flavor of jasmine lends itself to many blends
Lavender (Lavendula officinalis) – the flowers are used to produce a slightly sweet, highly aromatic floral flavor
Blends: The flavor can be a bit perfumey, so use sparingly
Rose Petals & Buds (Rosa spp) – just the petals or buds of fragrant organic varieties are used to produce a red tint and light floral flavor
Blends: Adds a delicate floral note that lingers to teas & blends
Cinnamon (Cinnamon cassia) – the bark is used to produce a warm spicy flavor
Blends: The warm spicy flavor of cinnamon is especially great paired with citrus & other spices
Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale) – the root is used fresh or dried to produce a tangy yet refreshing tea
Blends: Spicy and warm addition to fruit and spice blends
Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) – the root is used for its natural sweetness and anise aftertaste
Blends: Increases sweetness and harmonizes flavors
5. For accent, add a small amount, usually about 1 part, of the following individual components or a combination:
Spices (whole, cracked or ground)
Dried or fresh edible flower petals
Dried citrus peel
6. Mix the desired ingredients in small and manageable batches, about enough for a few cups, and then brew your combination and taste. Use 1 teaspoons for a cup or 1 heaping tablespoons for a pot, add boiling water and steep 3-5mins depending on the base infusion.
7. Be prepared to tweak the blend
8. Once you have the desired blend, store in air-tight containers away from light, humidity and changes in temperature. Blends that include leafy herbs and flowers may be stored for 8-12 months. Blends made of bark, root, twigs, berries, and seeds no longer than 14-16 months.