Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tea Blending - MATBA Seminar

The Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association (MATBA) recently held their annual April Seminar in Trenton, NJ. At the seminar this year, the topic was tea blending and was presented by two speakers. Susanna Reppert of The Rosemary House covered a sampling of Herb Teas used for blending. Categorized by use, she spoke about Citrus Flavored Herbs such as Rose Hips, Hibiscus, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, and Lemon Geranium. She included Sweet Flavored Herbs such as Stevia, Licorice, Fennel, and Anise. She mentioned spices that might be used in blending such as Candied ginger, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and peppercorns. On the topic of flowers, she discussed lavender, rose, chamomile, jasmine, calendula, safflower, blue corn flowers, and black malva flowers offering a cautious hand when using the strong florals scents as you don't want on overly perfumed blend. A small amount of lavender adds flavor and color and is a sweet addition to a blend whereas, too much will create a perfumed blend. Most flowers and petals are added for the color and visual addition to a tea blend. The medicinal herbs that might appear in blended mixtures include passion flower, valerian (particularly found in a calming tea), sage, elder berries, nettles, and red raspberry. Susanna shared an abundance of information regarding these herbs and flowers. Her background information was vital in understanding how these herbs would add to and enhance a tea blend. Of personal note, sitting in this class and listening to Susanna speak on herbs with such ease and eloquence was tantamount to listening to a program presented by our mother. She would be so proud of her baby girl. 

Base Teas
Susanna's program was followed by a presentation by Linda Villano of SerendipiTea from Manhasset, NY. Linda provided the hands on portion of the program. She shared information on the actual method of tea blending, the tools needed (bowls, scale, measuring spoon, notebook, time, creativity, and patience), and the how-to of tea blending. She stressed the importance of keeping accurate notes so that you could repeat the same blend a second time. And, she noted that you must let your blend rest and taste it again several days later to see how the flavors mingled. Linda admits to having a 'Frankenstein File' of blends she has tested that were not successful. It is a time consuming process until you hit that signature blend, but so exciting once you have achieved it.

Janet Young of Over the Tea Cup, Barb Will of Sugargrove Herbs, and Susanna testing their blending knowledge, attempting to find that perfect combination of herbs and tea.
Shown here, fellow members of the Tea Association craft their own mix of teas and herbs.
It was an interesting and informative series of programs that offered basic information and a great introduction into the world of blending tea.


relevanttealeaf said...

Sounds like the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business annual seminar was very interesting and informative. I got a lump in my throat when I read the part that your mother would have been very proud of her baby girl! How wonderful that Susanna is carrying on her legacy.

Bernideen said...

Wow - so much information here.

Angela McRae said...

I don't guess I'll ever *need* to blend teas on a commercial scale, but I still would have enjoyed learning about it! Wish I could come be your sister's "herb student" for a few weeks!

Marilyn Miller said...

How special to sit in this lecture. I would have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about blending.