Week 47: The Art and Science of Blending My Own Tea [Score +13]
Thanks to the [sometimes] magic of Groupon, I recently discovered a local café that I was shocked had been hiding from me for nearly a year: HoiTea ToiTea.
A tea-focused café that offers classes. Heaven!
I signed up for the first class available: The Art & Science of Blending Your Own Tea, a two-hour education and hands-on experience.
When I walked in the classroom, each chair had a scale and selection of supplies in front of it, and on the table were more than a dozen glass jars filled with labeled spices, flowers, and herbs.
The café’s founder, Alex, spent the first hour sharing her extensive knowledge of tea while I scribbled notes furiously on little scraps of paper and cursed myself for forgetting a notebook. While she talked, we tasted a number of “base” teas that can be enjoyed on their own or with added spices and herbs for additional flavor. We started with a Chun Mee green tea, next an orange pekoe black tea, followed by a green rooibos, and finally a lavender orange herbal tea. I was familiar with all of these but enjoyed getting a brief education about them while I mindfully sipped.
The second half of our class was spent creating two of our own custom blends. Alex recommended some ratios to keep in mind when starting to experiment with making your own blends: To finish with 2.0 oz of blended tea, start with 1.2-1.5 ounces of your base tea if you’re going to add just two or three flavor ingredients, or 0.7-1.2 ounces of your base tea if you’re going to add more than three flavor ingredients on top.
The “safe” weight of individual ingredients—to avoid overpowering your tea—is 0.2-0.3 ounces per flavor with some exceptions: go lighter on stronger flavors of hibiscus and stevia (0.1 oz each), and heavier on all spice, cinnamon, cardamom, carob, and ginger (0.4-0.6 oz each).
For our first, we made a caffeine-free rooibos or herbal tea. I chose to attempt a green-rooibos chai blend that wasn’t too spicy or peppery. For 2.0 oz of finished tea, I started with 0.7 oz of green rooibos base tea and added 0.3 oz cinnamon, 0.3 oz cardamom, 0.3 oz ginger, 0.2 oz all spice, 0.1 oz peppercorns, and 0.1 oz cloves. I named it “Gentle Chai” and was pretty pleased with the result.
For our second blend, we had a choice of any base tea to start; I selected a black tea, my favorite. To create a chocolaty flavor, I started with 1.0 oz of black tea and added 0.4 oz of carob chips, 0.4 oz of cardamom, and 0.2 oz of licorice root (which doesn’t taste like licorice, ironically). This one I named “Saturday Morning”, and I liked it, too.
Neither of my personal blends bowled me over and made me want to invest in all of the ingredients to make big repeat batches. The fact that I left with two entirely personal blends of drinkable tea made the experience special, though.
I feel like I’ve nearly exhausted all possible tea-related activities I could possibly try, but believe me, I’ll be on the lookout for more opportunities.
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1
- Activity benefits my health/wellbeing: +1
- Signed up for an activity without knowing anyone else involved: +2
- Had a conversation with a stranger of at least 30 seconds: +2
- Had a conversation with a stranger beyond basics (i.e., work, hometown, what’s your dog’s name): +2
- Learned someone’s name: +3