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Witch’s Brew 2021: Making Your Own Tea Blends

For Halloween, let’s brew up some unique tea blends using existing teas. Over the next four weeks, we will walk you through the craft of blending tea while creating four new blends to enjoy. So grab your measuring spoons, cup and infuser and join us on our blending adventure.

1st Recipe: Toasted Marshmallow

Our first recipe of the 2021 season is a blend of Lapsang Souchong and New World Vanilla to get us a smooth toasted marshmallow flavor. If you have not tried Lapsang Souchong before, this is a pine smoked tea from the Fujian Provence of China. The pine smoke nose hides a beautifully smooth and slightly sweet black tea that has a full mouth finish.

The good news about this recipe is that the teas are roughly the same size and density. So if you like this combination, you can mix a larger batch and have it on standby in the pantry. The recipe below is for an 8oz mug:

Toasted Marshmallow Recipe

Lapsang Souchong – 1/4 teaspoon

New World Vanilla – 2 1/2 teaspoons

2nd Recipe: Strawberries and Cream

This blend takes two popular oolong flavors, Strawberry Oolong and Milk Oolong, and combines them for a sweet and creamy cup of tea. Using desserts as inspiration for tea blends is pretty common as it allows a drinker to narrow in on a desired flavor.

The good news about this recipe is that the teas are roughly the same size and density. So if you like this combination, you can mix a larger batch and have it on standby in the pantry. The recipe below is for an 8oz mug:

Strawberries and Cream Recipe

Milk Oolong – 1/2 teaspoon

Strawberry Oolong – 2 teaspoons

Tea Pairings for a Late Summer Harvest

When it comes to fresh produce, there’s no season more abundant than late summer. If you spent your spring planting and weeding, you may find your home garden filled to bursting, while local farmer’s markets are more bountiful than ever. 

Basket of Fresh Veggies

With such a wonderful recent harvest, we’ve been having fun experimenting here at Dominion Tea, pairing up some of our favorite teas with dishes made from seasonal produce. Yes, pairing – just like wine, tea’s widely diverse range of flavors and complexity means that a proper match with food can lead to beautiful complementary tastes. But just like wine, the art of pairing food with tea is a delicate balance, combining flavors without overwhelming any one component. 

Curious to give it a try? Here are some of our favorite combinations for the late summer season. 

Red Alishan Oolong

Overwhelmed with cucumbers and tomatoes? Nothing beats a classic Greek Salad with feta, oregano, and olive oil. Try pairing it with our Red Alishan Oolong to enhance its sweet and earthy flavors. Remember that balance is important when it comes to tea and foods, so go light on the vinegar and onions if you use them. 

If you have squash or zucchini and you’re feeling adventurous, break out your spiralizer for a veggie-forward take on classic carbonara. Not only do vegetable noodles offer a healthy (and keto-friendly) alternative to traditional pastas, these garden mainstays pair delightfully with woody, malty Chinese black teas like Yunnan Sunrise or Keemun Mao Feng

For herb lovers, put fresh-plucked oregano and basil to use in a simple herb dressing, an easy and versatile fridge staple that can be applied to fish, chicken, salads, and so much more. Try with a cup of our White Monkey to augment its bracing freshness. 

Sweet and rich summer corn is delicious no matter how you prepare it, whether it’s seared on the grill or fried up with elote spices for a fun summer side dish. Pair with classic Chinese green tea like Huang Shan Mao Feng to enhance its creamy sweetness. 

2nd Flush Darjeeling

And for dessert, there are few things better than a warm fruit cobbler, especially when it’s made with fresh and juicy summer peaches and plums. Serve with a cup of 2nd Flush Darjeeling to bring out the tea’s naturally rich and fruity muscatel finish. Enjoy! 

By: Jen Coate

History of Green Tea: A Trip through Time

Tea plant

Of all the tea types, green tea has an extraordinarily long and complex history, far beyond what historical records can adequately cover. Tracing its development from what evidence we do have, however, gives us a fascinating cross-section of tradition and culture.

The discovery of tea in China is legendarily placed around 3000 BCE, by Shen Nong, the divine cultivator. Although the veracity of the date is impossible to confirm, written records indicate that tea was certainly being consumed for medicinal purposes by 59 BCE. Preparation would have been minimal compared to today’s processing, as tea leaves were simply plucked, ground, and then boiled with other herbs and spices into a thick and bitter concoction.

By the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), tea consumption was commonplace throughout the empire, gaining popularity first in the imperial courts, then spreading across the countryside and among the nomadic peoples in the north and west. By this point, tea leaves were processed after plucking by being steamed to stop oxidation, and then pounded into compressed cakes. Pieces of these cakes would be broken off when needed, and ground into a fine powder, which was then whipped into hot water (much like Japanese matcha, which was developed from this tradition). It was during this era that Chinese scholar Lu Yu wrote his Classic of Tea, an extensive treatise on tea types, philosophy, cultivation, and preparation, which laid the foundation for Chinese tea culture as we know it. Some of China’s most famous teas are mentioned in this work, including Dragon Well (Longjing) and Liu An Gua Pian (Melon Seed Tea). Green tea drinking became a Chinese institution, and gradually spread to its neighboring countries of Japan and Korea, whose people would go on to develop their own tea cultivars and tea-drinking cultures.

Tea fields in Fuding, China. In the history of green tea, this is one of the oldest growing regions.

The Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) saw the rise in popularity of loose-leaf green tea, sometimes blended with ingredients such as onion, pickle juice, ginger, or orange peel. Throughout the long eras of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties (1279-1644 CE), loose leaf green tea gradually began to dominate the Chinese market, and producers began to pan-fry leaves to stop oxidation instead of steaming them.

By the time tea was introduced to Western merchants in the 16th century, the green tea being produced by China was almost entirely the same as the beverage we know today – the process of many centuries of careful refinement and long tradition.

By: Jen Coate