As a chef, I approach tea as a flavor that I might incorporate into a food, whether sweet or savory. But with my restless penchant for not wishing to leave well enough alone and perceiving flavors and differentiating them from each other, I enjoy experimenting by blending small batches of fresh whole leaf teas from different tea growing regions with different terroir.
First, it’s necessary to know the dominant flavor personality of each tea before embarking on combining them. Perhaps more than a bit heretical, the blending process nonetheless reveals something new to me about the constituent teas in the blend. When brewed in just-under-the-boil water for about 3 minutes, equal amounts of Dao Ming Keemun, with its slightly smoky character, and Duflating add up to something truly special. The smoky note of the Keemun is followed by the mellowing round sweetness of the Indian tea. That comforting musty aroma of an old library (a good thing here) in the Chinese tea is brightened by a shot of the Indian tea. Do I enjoy each of these teas by themselves? Check. Do I also enjoy them when they are companions in the cup? Check.
Moving farther afield, how about something even more renegade? How about a soupcon of Darjeeling with its peachy perfume underpinned by a high altitude grown Ceylon? Even when blended, the delicacy of the first tea trumpets its identity with the island grown Ceylon lending a lingering bass note to the cup.
Which teas among the favorites in your tea cupboard would you like to blend? Let me know.
In the meantime, here’s a recipe for a spicy molasses-sweetened cookie, a perfect accompaniment to your tea blending explorations.
Many Spiced Cookies
Yield: Approximately 20 cookies
- Scant 7.5 ozs (1-1/2 cups) All purpose flour
- Spices in any proportion you favor, totaling 3.75 teaspoons (NOTE: I suggest using an amount of cinnamon that is equal by volume to the total of the other four spices, as cinnamon mellows and softens the aggressiveness of the others).
- Scant 4.5 ozs (9 T,) unsalted butter, softened
- 2.5 ozs (1/2 c.) dark brown sugar
- 3.8 ozs (1/2 c.) molasses
- 1-1.2 t. hot water
- Granulated sugar, as needed, to coat the scoops of cookie dough before baking
- Sift flour with spices and set aside.
- Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, cream butter until light. Add brown sugar and molasses and mix to blend. Add hot water and mix in. Add the sifted dries and mix only until the flour disappears.
- Using an ice cream scoop, portion out the dough into 1 ounce balls, dropping the scoops into a bowl of granulated sugar. Toss to coat and then place the dough onto parchment paper lined sheet pans leaving about 3 inches space between cookies. Chill until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350° F. and bake the cookies on an oven rack positioned halfway up from the bottom of the oven, for approximately 15 minutes or until lightly browned, but still somewhat soft (they will harden as they cool).
- When cool, transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and store at cool room temperature.