5 Most Popular Black Tea Blends - Rivertea Blog
Carmen Rotaru | On 04, Feb 2013
Black tea is aromatic and tasteful and a real energy booster, just what one needs to boost his energy before starting a busy day. Discover how to make your world even more flavorful with the 5 most popular black tea blends.
The interesting and delicious part about teas is that we can actually mix and match different types of teas. This doesn’t stop here as we can even make a combination of tea with spices or other plants. The most popular tea blends in the world are mostly British creations and are in fact black tea blends. After discovering tea, the British desired to master it and did transform it into their national beverage. When you say British, you also say: “Tea, please!”
Tea Blend Secrets
Tea blending occurs mainly with black tea which is the most used tea variety to produce tea bags. Other varieties of teas are also used such as Pu’erh. The tea leaves of Pu’erh are brought from different regions and compressed into one product. The first push into blending was human curiosity, but nowadays with the tea market growing and growing the aim is to create a balanced flavor for tea consumers. The producers want to achieve that aim by using different origins and aromas of teas.
Tea blending has one golden rule. The producers and marketers think that each pack from a specific blend must always have the exact same taste. The aim is for the tea consumer to remain faithful to that kind of blend and not to detect some difference in flavor or taste from one purchase to another.
When the actual blending process is taking place, tea is mixed and flavored in large blending drums. Teas can be mixed with perfumes, other plants or essential oils. A variety of flowers are used to flavor the tea, flowers such as jasmine, osmanthus (a flower native to China), rose, chrysanthemum or lotus. The herbs generally used for preparing black tea blends are mint and pandan, very popular with black tea in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Other frequent used flavorants are citrus oil, pine needles, different spices such as ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cassia or black pepper, rum and roasted grain.
5 Most Popular Black Tea Blends
Black tea blends have been around since tea was first discovered and appreciated as a beverage. People are curious, so each region has developed its recipes and traditions connected to their specific blends.
No 1. Earl Grey Tea Blend
This blend features a highly distinctive flavor. The wonderful aroma of Earl Grey is due to the bergamot oil, which is extracted from the rind of bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit.
Earl Grey blend is assumed to be named after Earl Grey, a British Prime Minister in 1830 who received as gift this tasty and flavored blend. There is even a legend related to this tea blend. The story recounts about a grateful Chinese aristocrat who had his son saved from drowning by Lord Grey’s men. He presented this blend to Earl as a thank you gift. This though remains only a story because Lord Grey has never visited China and actually the use of bergamot oil was still unknown to Chinese people at that time.
There are many variations of Earl Grey blend depending on the ingredients used to prepare it. One of the most popular is Lady Grey, a blend which combines classic Earl Grey with lavender or Seville oranges. Other well known and appreciated blend is London Fog a combination between Earl Grey, steamed milk and vanilla syrup. There is also a Rooibos Earl Grey which is thought to have originated in Malaysia.
No. 2 English Breakfast Blend
English breakfast tea is a black tea blend usually known to be full-bodied, robust and rich. It’s a blend that works well with milk and sugar, traditionally associated with a typical English breakfast. It is a highly traditional blend of strong black teas originating from Assam (India), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Kenya.
It was a blend popularized by Queen Victoria, becoming a longstanding and appreciated British custom. There are many stories concerning its origins and it seems that the actual name of “English breakfast” was given to this specific blend not in England, but in the American colonies. This happened when an British immigrant, named Richard Davies, started to sell and popularize the blend under the name we all know and appreciate today.
“In nothing more is the English genius for domesticity more notably declared than in the institution of this festival – almost one may call it – of afternoon tea…The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose.” (George Gissing)
No. 3 Irish Breakfast Blend
This is another blend of several black teas, generally Assam (India) teas. Irish breakfast is very strong, most commonly served with milk just like the English breakfast. There are some consumers who prefer it blended with sugar and lemon, without the milk. Though it is mainly consumed in the mornings, instead of coffee, Irish breakfast is also chosen in the evenings due to its sweetness and smooth texture.
Irish Breakfast is actually a young blend. It wasn’t until the Second World War that Irish tea history was separated from the English one. During this war, Ireland took a neutral stand and refused to collaborate in any way with the English. This actually cut off their tea supplies because all the tea Irish drank came from England. As a result Ireland soon began to import its own tea and started creating its own flavors and blends different from the classical English tea recipes. That is how Irish Breakfast blend was also born.
No. 4 English Afternoon Blend
This blend is medium bodied, bright and really really refreshing. The blend contains Assam (India) black teas and Kenyan black teas mixed with Ceylon (Sri Lanka) black tea varieties. The Ceylon teas add a light touch to this tasteful blend. Alongside with English Afternoon blend always stands a delicious selection of cakes such as muffins or miniature sandwiches. The tea is traditionally poured from heavy, ornate, silver teapots into delicate china cups and served with milk or lemon, adding a touch of elegance to this famous English custom.
The credit for this particular English custom and for the blend itself traditionally goes to a duchess named Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, somewhere in the early 19th century. She felt hungry in the evenings due to the habit of late dinners, so she ordered to her servants to bring in her room some tea and cakes. Becoming her personal custom she invited her friends to this miniature party thus installing the habit of tea party and tea in the afternoon.
No. 5 Masala Chai Blend
Masala chai is a perfect combination of black tea, spices, milk, and a sweetener such as sugar or honey. It is a traditional Indian beverage which has been adapted in the West with different changes to the classic method of preparation. The traditional way of preparing masala chai involves decoction by actively boiling a combination of water with loose leaves, milk and whole spices.
Masala’s history is still bounded to English history, though this blend originated in Asia. It seems that beginning with the 1830s, the British were more and more focused on competing with Chinese monopoly over tea market. So they began a campaign of cultivating the tea plant in Assam (India), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Kenya. The plants grown in these regions were still of Chinese origins, but were known to the world as tea grown in British India and British Ceylon. Starting with these marketing changes made by the British, masala chai blend was also brought to Western countries.
The fun part about blending is that we can actually try and invent our own blends by mixing and matching different tea varieties with spices or other flowers and plant material. We are really curious if you have developed a blend recipe on your own and if you did we would be really pleased if you’d share it with us.
We’ll soon launch our new incredible tasty tea blends. Join us, there are lots of special gifts waiting for you.