On October 24, 2010, I had the unique opportunity to take a bus to Ojai, California, eat tea-infused food, drink tea-infused cocktails, and create my own tea blend. Kulov’s bus tours are great tea adventures. This year we learned about tea blending from Zhena, the owner of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.
Zhena briefly explained how to create a blend, incorporating top, mid, and base notes. The base note sets the main flavor profile for your blend, the mid note is the bridge between the top and base notes, and the top note is the first flavor or aroma you experience. The Gypsy Tea company laid out various teas, botanicals, and natural extracts for our blends. Fortunately, I had tasted all the base teas and most of the botanicals. Taking all this into consideration, I planned to blend a cucumber tea.
I have loved cucumbers since childhood. I knew I would have to use a cucumber extract, but what kind of base? A light vegetal green tea seemed liked a good base note. Dragonwell and Sencha have the light flavors I craved. I decided on Dragonwell. I love Sencha, but decided to be adventurous. Now the blend needed a sweet refreshing note, so I added a dash of Silver Needle. Then I saw the Ti Kuan Yin. Knowing this tea has a light floral flavor, I added a spoonful.
Inhaling my blend of green, oolong, and white teas, I found it needed a little kick. Something to lift the flavor – so I added a dash of peppermint. Now it was time for the cucumber extract. The most difficult part of creating this blend was evenly coating the oil on my leaves. I poured a little extract and prayed that the leaves would be sufficiently coated.
Then it was time to cup my new blend. Using a traditional white cupping set, the Gypsy Tea cupping master measured the correct amount of my blend with just the right amount of water at the correct temperature. Five minutes later, I smelled my deep green brew. It was immediately minty with floral and grassy notes. My first sip revealed a deep Dragonwell flavor, with a refreshingly cool cucumber finish.
I would like more cucumber flavor and aroma and a lighter green color. Now I have a blend to start tweaking. Thank you, Kulov and Zhena. I had a great time and learned a lot!