The Art of Tea Blending

Properly blending tea is truly an art form. This statement isn’t intended to be taken lightly, nor is it an exaggeration. You can’t just take a handful of different ingredients, throw them into a pot and expect to wind up with a successful blend of tea.

The goal of professional tea blending is to create a well balanced flavor and aroma using different teas, herbs, fruits, spices and other additives from different origins and with different characteristics.

The one most important rule of tea blending that must always be achieved is that every blend must taste the same as the previous one, so a customer will never be able to detect a difference in flavor from one purchase to the next. This is a very difficult goal to maintain but it is what separates the professional tea blending artists from the less skilled blenders.

Tea leaves are able to easily receive any aroma, which may cause problems in processing, transportation or storage, if not handled properly, but can also be an advantage if skillfully used to prepare scented teas.

Basic Varieties of Blended Teas


A Breakfast tea blend is usually a blend of different black teas that are robust and full-bodied, and go well with milk. Some of the more common types of breakfast blends include English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast and Scottish Breakfast.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea blends also, usually consist of black teas, however, they are generally lighter than breakfast blends. Both breakfast and afternoon blends are very popular in the British Isles. One of the more popular afternoon tea blends is Prince of Wales tea blend.

Russian Caravan

Another very popular tea blend is Russian Caravan. This blend has traditionally remained the same for several years, back when tea was transported to Russia from China on camelback. The blend often contains a bit of smoky Lapsang souchong, though its base is typically Keemun or Dianhong. Some also contain oolong.

Scented Tea Blends

Most premium tea blends are flavored and scented directly with natural flowers, herbs, spices and even smoke. However, some more specialized flavors and scents are produced through the addition of additives or perfumes.

Due to the number of different artificial methods of flavoring and scenting tea blends I am going to focus on premium tea blends that are created using only natural ingredients.


A variety of flowers are used to flavor tea blends. The most popular of these flowers used include:

Jasmine flowers are usually mixed into the tea blend while it is oxidizing, and occasionally some are left in the tea as a decoration. Jasmine is usually used to flavor green teas to produce jasmine tea, although sometimes it is also used to flavor light oolong teas.

Osmanthus tea is produced in China by combining the dried flowers with black or green tea leaves in pretty much the same way jasmine tea is. The flower gives tea a mild peach flavor and is the second most popular scented tea in China.

Rose buds are also added while the leaves are oxidizing, while also being left in the blend as a garnish and to intensify the scent and flavor. In China, roses are usually used to scent black tea with the resulting tea being called rose congou.

Chrysanthemum flowers are often brewed separately as a tisane but are also commonly mixed with pu-erh tea to make chrysanthemum pu-erh.

Lotus tea is typically a Vietnamese tea that is made by stuffing green tea leaves into the blossom of Nelumbo nucifera and allowing the scent to be absorbed overnight.

Other Flavorings

Mint is usually mixed with green teas to create blends that are very popular around the world and specifically in the Middle East and North Africa.

Citrus peels are more commonly used in Earl Grey tea which is made by infusing black teas with citrus or bergamot peel.

Smoke, specifically Lapsang souchong, is produced by drying black tea over smoking pine needles, producing a striking smoky aroma and flavor.

Spice tea blends such as Indian and Middle Eastern masala chai are flavored with sweet spices including ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cassia, black pepper, clove, anise, fennel, Indian bay leaf and sometimes vanilla, nutmeg and mace.

When it comes to tea blends the possibilities are seemingly endless for a talented blender to create true works of art. At ESP Emporium you have the ability to sample these truly amazing possibilities.

At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.

The Health Benefits of Different Teas

Coveted for centuries in the East as the key to good health, happiness and wisdom, tea is gaining the attention of researchers in the West who are discovering the many health benefits of different types of teas.

Research studies have shown that tea can provide help with cancer, heart disease and diabetes. It can also assist in weight loss, lower cholesterol and provide mental alertness. Tea has been found to also contain antimicrobial qualities.

“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” said Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD, spokesperson for The American Dietetic Association. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea - their flavonoids - are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”

However, nutritionists agree that brewed premium, organic provides the maximum health benefits, with less calories, sweeteners and preservatives over bottled, instant or “name brand” tea.

Here are the basic tea blends and their respective health benefits:

Green, Black and White Tea

Most any beverage that is steeped is called tea, however, purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea and pu-erh tea to be actual tea. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids.

The most potent of these flavonoids are known as ECGC which help fight free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease and clogged arteries. These teas also contain caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain by heighten mental alertness.

The more processing applied to tea leaves, the more they lose their overall content of antioxidants. Oolong and black teas are oxidized, or fermented, so they have lower concentration of antioxidants than green teas. However, their antioxidizing power is still very high.

Here is what some research studies have found to be the potential health benefits of tea:

Green Tea

Several studies have shown that green tea leaves, which are steamed, are high in concentrations of EGCG. The antioxidants in green tea have been shown to interfere with the growth of cancer in the bladder, breasts, lungs, stomach, pancreas and colon.

They also prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce the risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, reduce risk of stroke and improve cholesterol levels.

Black Tea

Made with fermented leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown black tea to protect the lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also reduces the risk of stroke.

White Tea

White tea is uncured and unfermented, studies have shown that it has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.

Oolong Tea

Oolong tea has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels. There are also some claims that Wuyi, a variety of oolong tea, shows weight loss properties.

Pu-erh Tea

Pu-erh is made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. Studies have shown that pu-erh provides weight loss benefits and reduces LDL cholesterol.

Herbal Tea

Made from herbs, fruits, seeds or roots, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black and oolong teas. However, their nutritional benefits are based on their own specific properties. This makes it difficult to list all of the health benefits available in herbal teas without listing each ingredient separately.

For more information on the health benefits provided by our numerous blends of premium herbal tea please refer to the Herbal Tea category on our site.

At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.

The Benefits of Polyphenols & Flavonoids Found in Tea

There is a reason why tea is the second most popular drink in the world, next to water, because it is packed with several powerful ingredients that provide many benefits to your mind, body and soul.

Polyphenols Fight Disease

One of the major benefits to tea are its high quantities of polyphenols that literally combat and destroy the free radicals in our bodies which cause cancerous tumors to grow and allow disease to spread and reak havoc on our bodies in the form of several other debilitating health problems.

Free radicals are oxidants which are unstable molecules that damage cells, change our DNA and cause significant disease. Therefore, antioxidants, like polyphenols, are needed to fight cellular damage and repair vital cells. Because many diseases are the result of cellular damage, drinking tea for the benefits you receive from the polyphenols can be vital to a healthier lifestyle.

All tea, whether it has been oxidized or not, contains the health benefits of polyphenols. However, white and green teas contains higher amounts of polyphenols. Polyphenols have been proven to improve the oxidative stress biomarkers (the forecasters of disease risk).

Studies have shown promising evidence that polyphenols may help us fight cardiovascular diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus and some neurodegenerative diseases and may enhance overall bone and dental health.

Flavonoids Promote Overall Good Health

Polyphenols contain phytochemical compounds called flavonoids which provide antioxidant activity, and tannins that contribute to the flavor of the tea, mainly its astringency.

Catechins, a more powerful type of flavonoid, appears in very small amounts of oxidized tea, substantial amounts of green teas and a little less in white teas. Catechins are considered potent antioxidants and hold the most promise for fighting heart disease and cancer.

In addition to polyphenols and flavonoids, tea contains several other healthy ingredients, based on the numerous other herbs, spices and fruits which are added to the wide assortment of premium blends available.

This makes tea one of the healthiest, most nutritious beverages you can consume. Tea is just about everything you need for a healthier lifestyle, all in one cup.

At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.

L-theanine and What it Means to Tea

L-theanine is a chemical regularly found in tea and is responsible for some of the well known effects tea has on the mind and body, as well as having an influence on the flavor itself.

The concentration of L-theanine found in any tea is high for this pretty uncommon chemical. Two of the teas with the highest known concentration, gyokuro and Anji bai cha, both contain around 2% L-theanine by dry weight. All other teas contain around 1% by dry weight.

The effects of L-theanine

Even though not completely understood and subject to ongoing research, L-theanine has a number of effects on the mind and body.

L-theanine reacts with caffeine to promote increased alertness with less amounts of caffeine required. This effect has been suggested for a long time before it was finally confirmed by controlled studies.

This is why tea is so popular for boosting concentration, even though it contains so much less caffeine than coffee. On the other hand L-theanine also plays a role in relaxation. This effect is what has led people to claim that L-theanine promotes a relaxed alertness.

L-theanine also has the ability to promote healthy sleep. In spite of the caffeine content, this is why tea is so well known to give you the “pick me up” when you need it, relax your body and mind at the end of the day and promote sweet dreams at bedtime.

At ESP Tea Emporium, our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.

The Importance of Teaware to a Great Cup of Tea

While enjoying your favorite cup of tea, the teaware you use is just as important as the tea leaves you choose. I’m not talking about your “morning eye opener, I gotta wake up before I get to work” cup of tea, although there are plenty of fantastic travel mugs available for that, I’m talking about the “sitting on the back deck at the end of a hard day relaxing” cup of tea.

Teaware refers to the various tools and equipment used in the brewing and consumption of tea. Along with the obvious teapots and tea cups, teaware also includes tea strainers, tea trays, kettles, tea warmers, tea tins, tea trivets, travel mugs and other tea accessories and tools.

There is a varied range of material used to produce tea pots and tea cups, from cast iron made in Japan to porcelain and clay made in China, along with glass and glazed stoneware among others. The most highly regarded are the Yixing clay teapots produced in eastern China.

An important factor to consider when selecting teaware should be the particular thermal qualities of the material. It is recommended that each type of tea should be brewed at a specific temperature to taste its best. This will be affected by the ware’s level of heat conductivity.

Teas that are either lightly fermented or unfermented are better brewed in lower water temperatures. Glass and porcelain are both good choices for these applications because of their high heat conductivity.

However, heavily fired and fully fermented teas like Pu-erh should be brewed in higher water temperatures. Yixing stoneware and porous teapots with low heat conductivity are great ideas of these types of tea.

Whatever material your teaware is made of, taking proper care of it will ensure its longevity and enjoyment for years to come. Each type of material has its own care requirements. However, as a general rule of thumb, teaware should never be scrubbed with abrasive pads or washed with harsh detergents or soaps. Microwaves and dishwashers are also major no no’s.

Shape Matters

Wine connoisseurs understand that the shape, and the material of your glass influence how you taste a beverage. This is also very true with tea. However, unlike with wine, teaware comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. Whereas most wine is consumed from glass, tea can be consumed from a variety of different materials.

The shape of your cup influences how you will enjoy the tea, because it controls the way you smell the tea while you are drinking it. The Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago states that “90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell”.

Similar to wine glasses, the size of the rim your cup has, the angle at which it opens from its base, whether it is flared outward or inward, all affect how you taste the tea. Here are some of the ways that cup shape influences the taste of your tea.


Narrow Rimmed

If you are drinking out of a tall and narrow teacup, as in the case of a whisky tasting glass, the smell will be funneled in a very concentrated channel straight into your nose. This is why aroma cups are tall and narrow, and not flared.

Wide Rimmed

A wider rimmed cup, something which opens up from the base and ends with the top being wider than the bottom. This allows the hot air, containing the aroma to diffuse quickly into the air.



One of the reasons glass is used to drink tea is that it is usually perfectly smooth, the tea has nothing hinder its movement. This means that the flavors and aroma remain fairly condensed.

Glass is also a neutral material, so it won’t add any of its own flavor to the drink. Have you ever noticed when you drink something in a plastic container it will taste different than the same drink in a glass? This is because the plastic leaves its own taste behind in the drink, usually a synthetic taste.


Ceramic is the most basic material for a teacup. Since the ceramic is glazed, it is usually free of imperfections. These imperfections mean that, when they are present, the tea will bump up against them and gives the drinker a more flavorful and aromatic experience.


Clay is very porous, with tiny imperfections in the surface. As with ceramic, just on a larger scale, the imperfections allow the flavor and aroma to be much more pronounced. Rather than offering the drinker a subtle experience it is much more robust.

Although none of the imperfections in a teacup, made of any material, are easily visible, the difference can be very noticeable in the taste. When you brew the same type of tea, at the same temperature and under all of the same conditions, you will notice a difference in the flavor and aroma based on the teacup you are drinking out of.

You will find that a clay teacup gives you a much fuller, more robust flavor and aroma then you will receive from one that is made from glass or ceramic. This is why choosing your teaware is just as important as choosing the tea you put into it.

At ESP Emporium, we believe that there is a big difference between brewing a cup of tea and brewing a relaxing cup of serenity.

Whether it's your “morning eye-opener” cup of tea or the “after a hard day, let the stress drain from my body and soul” cup of tea, We have exactly the right blend for you.

Our goal isn’t to only sell tea, we want to inform and teach you about the amazing world of different teas, tea culture and the provided health benefits. Please check back for more interesting, helpful and informative articles about all the benefits to drinking tea.