Making a tea blend starts with inspiration and a desire to create a tasty, nuanced, balanced and healthy beverage that will bring joy to all that partake. We asked our Culinary Tea Blender, Bobby, what he loves about each of the company’s first five magical blends that he created! This is what he said…
Earl Grey’s Garden:
“When I was creating my tea blends, I told myself, “Bobby…you will work on these recipes until you love each and every blend. And If you don’t love any of them…then you can’t make and sell it.” Today, months later, I can say without a hint of doubt…I LOVE all of my tea blends!
It’s a grey day outside here on San Juan Island…and the perfect tea to lift my spirit is Earl Grey’s Garden! I love this tea because it unites the long rich history of classic Earl Grey Tea with the garden’s here on our beautiful islands! History hugging present day.
I have worked hard to create a recipe that balances all of the flavors I’ve brought together. The richness and full-bodied black teas along with the citrusy and light refreshing taste of bergamot oil, the distinctive flavor and aromatic fragrance of Lavender, sweet and subtle undertones of rose petals, complex fresh and light Calendula and the bridge that connects everything together, Chamomile.
It all dances in my tea cup and gives off the most intoxicating scent while enlivening my taste buds. And, of course, the caffeine from the organic black teas gives me a smooth lift of energy. I know I’m not alone in my love for this tea because it was the blend I sold the most of at last week’s Farmer’s Market.
“What do I love about Dandy Mint Tea Blend? It is an herbal tea that has a contradicting personality that can at once enliven you while also relaxing you! I myself am a walking contradiction…so I can relate to this tea blend. I do love it…but my bestie, Tyler, loves it even more than me. In fact, he loves it so much that sometimes I think that he might be in a romantic relationship with Dandy Mint. Which is fine. Who am I to judge whom we love and have romantic dates by the fire with? But, I digress.
Although, all Inspired Earth Tea Blends have some San Juan Island grown ingredients in them it is extremely important to me that I create at least one blend where all of its ingredients are grown here on our beautiful islands. And so, Dandy Mint is born.
My romantic memories of living in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany involved climbing the beautiful mountains and picking wild Mint and Chamomile and making tea. So I knew I wanted to bring this magical pairing together once again.
Peppermint is what many of us already have a relationship to as far as a mint tea. Its high levels of menthols give it its characteristic cool, and fabulously refreshing flavor. I also bring the “Mother of Mint” into my blend, Spearmint. It has a long history in Greek and Mediterranean cuisines and adds an earthy yet bright and fresh flavor that lends an unexpected twist that I love.
And then…there is the unsung hero of the flower and plant world. Dandelion. It truly is one of my favorite flowers with its brightly colored blossoms that you can actually pet! It is so soft! And, as it turns out, the entire plant is edible and incredibly healthy! I use the leaves in Dandy Mint and along with its earthy and herbaceous flavor it is an excellent source of potassium which helps our kidneys filter toxins more effectively and improve blood flow!
Chamomile, an herb I find bridges flavor profiles, rounds out the blend with its silky mouthfeel while remaining clean, delicately floral and wonderfully soothing and calming.
If you want a cup of tea that truly is a taste of the islands, which will enliven and relax you, while also supporting your health…then our Dandy Mint Herbal Tea is ready to have a long lasting relationship with you!”
My Spicy Lover:
“What is there to love about My Spicy Lover tea blend? What’s not to love! I mean, who doesn’t need a spicy lover in their life every now and again?
This Inspired Earth tea blend is born out of pure inspiration and imagination and unlike any tea you will find anywhere else! I had an absolute blast in my *laboratory* letting creativity go wild and blending, tasting, imagining and blending over several weeks! Until I found the seamless balance of some of my favorite tastes.
First off, I use an incredibly high-quality, and fragrant bouquet, black tea from the Korakundah Organic Farm in India! The farm is one of the highest growing tea estates in the world! This is important because tea plants (Camellia Sinensis) grown at higher altitudes grows slower which allows for essential oils and character to build in the leaves.
Along with this stellar black tea, I add the gorgeous tropical flower, Hibiscus. It has an almost cranberry like flavor and a deep red-violet color that looks much like cabernet. Hibiscus marries brilliantly with the organic rose petals that I add to the blend…because who doesn’t want their spicy lover to give them roses?! The rose flavor unites deliciously with its light, subtle and floral flavor along with the restrained amount of organic vanilla extract I also add to the blend. To round out and bridge all of these romantic flavors I use island-grown chamomile with its mellow, honey-like sweetness.
AND finally…the surprise flavors that build throughout this tea relationship are organic black pepper and red chili pepper extract! This was one of my biggest challenges when creating this blend…because the spice level, and flavor, had to be just right. Too much too soon and it would take over. However, through much trial and error I found a balance where the spiciness eases in and slowly builds during your romantic rendezvous cup of tea!
I absolutely love this tea hot or iced! If you need any more convincing…then ask Abbie, one of the owners of The Stand coffee shop (they now sell this tea blend). After her first cup she wrote, “I’M OBSESSED. It’s delicious, and so unique. You knocked it outta the park!”
“I have never been instantly attracted to Green Tea. I’ve always been more drawn to black teas and coffee (Yes, I’m Bi when it comes to tea and coffee). I knew it was going to be a challenge to find the right green tea leaf that even a skeptical green tea drinker, such as myself, would love. After much research and taste testing…I finally found the one! It’s an Organic Whole-Leaf Sencha Green Tea.
It turns out that Sencha is the most widely drunk tea in all of Japan! And unrelated, but equally interesting, the discovery of tea dates back to around 2700 B.C. in China! In my last post I was talking about how the history of Earl Grey Tea is exciting to me. But…2700 B.C.! That’s when it all started! Today Tea is still the most drunk beverage (other than water) in the entire world!
There are many physical health benefits of Sencha Green Tea such as it being rich in antioxidants which help protect you against free radicals, it helps reduce inflammation, boosts your immune system, it’s mood-boosting and lowers cholesterol to name just a few. And the flavor is fabulous! It’s whole, fresh, bright and bittersweet. It also has a unique and wonderful flavor that is hard to describe. It reminds me of when I’m standing on one of the beaches here on the San Juan Islands and take in the scent of the ocean. Yes…that’s it…it has a hint of ocean breeze! Which is one of the main reasons I fell in love with it.
I tried to imagine what I could pair with this Sencha that would ground it within our beautiful San Juan Islands while allowing it to retain its own flavor profile. I had a spark of inspiration and went out and harvested wild Madrona Bark, washed and cleaned it, hand crushed it and began experimenting. It worked! They paired flawlessly!
Madrona adds what I can best describe as a subtle forest flavor. It also adds the most obscure note of cinnamon. My Madrona Sencha unites flavors of the ocean and forest all nestled within a full-bodied, and very healthy, Organic Fair-Trade Sencha Green Tea. I love it! I also love imagining, in a poetic sense, that it unites two islands four thousand eight hundred sixty-nine miles apart. Japan and San Juan Island.”
Island Basil Chai:
“I chose to make things even harder for myself when creating this blend. And perhaps I love it so much because of all the *chances* I’ve taken with it. I tried several “pre-blended” chai’s that always seemed to fall short of what my heart (and taste buds) were looking for. They were not entirely organic (if at all) or didn’t hit the mark in balance of the ingredients. Having never created my own personal Chai blend, and afraid to try, I kept telling myself that I would find the right pre-blended version if I kept looking. Well…I never did. Therefore, I dove into the art of creating my own blend of this ancient mix of spices and herbs that originated in India over 5000 years ago! Very daunting!
First, I had to narrow down which spices I wanted to use in my blend. I researched many, many recipes to see how others’ created theirs. Then the fun truly began when I started experimenting, mixing and tasting. Through much trial and error, I learned which spices created the flavor profile that most excited me. I discovered I wanted my blend to be spicy and also smooth and comforting. I also learned how much I LOVE the magic flavor of Cardamom AND how expensive Organic Cardamom is! $50 for just one small pound bag! However, I decided at the beginning of creating Inspired Earth Tea that I would take less profit in exchange for a stellar quality product that I truly loved. Let’s just say that I use a lot of cardamom in my Island Basil Chai recipe.
I also add Island Grown Basil in the recipe! Which, surprisingly/not surprisingly marries perfectly with the other spices and herbs and adds its own unique balance between sweet and savory, with hints of mint, anise (which I also use in the recipe) and pepper (which I use).
Perhaps the most nerve-wracking decision I made was to go with an Herbal Chai Blend, which is naturally caffeine free! I had more than one person give me a discerning look when I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with any of my experimental black tea blends…and decided to go with an herbal blend. “But everybody expects their Chai Tea to be caffeinated” was a similar sentiment I heard more than once. However, my heart kept leading me toward an herbal blend where I replace black tea with the incredibly smooth, natural sweetness and slightly nutty flavor of Rooibos.
I love Island Basil Chai blend! I LOVE the aroma! I LOVE the flavor profile! I LOVE the health benefits (it’s very high in anti-inflammatory ingredients) and apparently, many of you do as well because it is my number one seller!”