Since I grow herbs in my container garden, I’m no stranger to growing my own tea. I have several types of herbs in my garden that I use in tea, including mint, lemon balm and lavender. But the proprietor of the garden included spices in her tea blends that I wouldn’t have thought of. My favorite was a charming little tea that she called “Vampire’s Blend,” which included rose hips, hibiscus, chocolate, cayenne pepper stevia and cinnamon (among other herbs and spices).
A huge part of the tea drinking experience is in the scent. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when experts mix tea, they use the same terminology as someone who mixes perfume. Most teas have a combination of scents and tastes. They should have some kind of flowery top note, which is the first scent you smell. Actual flowers such as jasmine, chamomile, lavender or rose may be used to create the flowery scent. Add only one part flowers to your tea.
The next addition to the tea is a base smell and taste that ties the entire tea together. This is usually the strongest taste in the tea. Black teas have a stronger base taste than green teas. In green tea, young leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant that have been steamed or roasted and oven-dried are used. Oolong tea is made from young tea leaves that have been sun-dried for 45 minutes and then roasted. Black tea is formed from tea leaves that have been bruised, sun-dried for 3 to 4 days and then roasted. You can also use rooibos or dried raspberry leaves as a base. Add two parts of the base to your tea blend.
Fruity teas will have some component of fruit added to them for a complex flavor and scent. Ingredients in fruity teas may include orange peels, berries, rose hips or even dried apples. Hibiscus flowers also provide a fruity scent and make the liquid in your tea red. Add one part fruity substance to your tea blend.
Lastly, you want to add a finishing or “cooling” herb. This will be the herb that leaves the aftertaste. Mint is a common finishing herb, but borage is another herb that works well in tea blends. Keep your tea blend in a dark, cool place in a glass jar. Add 1 teaspoon of herbs in a tea ball or strainer per cup of hot water.
Experiment with your own tea blends using various herbs in your garden. You may be surprised with the results that you come up with.