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AUTHENTIC BLENDS

Creating the teas that many of us drink day by day involves a process of blending different varieties. In some cases, such as English Breakfast Tea, more than 10 different tea varieties are used to create the desired flavour.

When tea taken from the same tea garden on different days is mixed,that is also called blending. The rationale for this activity is to ensure that the variety's hallmark quality and aroma are retained for the final product.

WELL-KNOWN CLASSIC TEA BLENDS

ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA, without which an English breakfast would not be the same. This vigorous blend of black teas from India and Sri Lanka is a cornerstone of British culture. It tends to be taken medium-to-strong with milk and sugar.

EAST FRISIAN BLEND keeps life running on the North Sea coast of Germany. this strong and aromatic blend consists mainly of Assam, but also has some Ceylon, Darjeeling and other varieties. It is traditionally served with rock sugar and cream.

RUSSIAN CARAVAN TEA is regarded as indispensable to everyday life in the former USSR. It's a classic blend of teas from China, Taiwan and India, in years gone by, caravans transported it along an arduous route through Siberia to trading off in ST. Petersburg and Moscow. This strong tea has a slightly smoky flavour and is sweetened heavilyoften with a spoonful of jam.

THE SCENT OF TEMPTATION

Every tea lover's tale begins with an extraordinary taste. Like falling in love, they encounter something they have never before experienced… and it's only a matter of time before they are completely, utterly smitten. Unlike love, however, a promising tea rarely disappoints. So the tea aficionado's relationship is for the long term, and it's likely to last a lifetime. For many, the first exquisite taste of a scented tea is all it takes to become infatuated. These varieties open up a whole world of opportunity for the tea drinker by combining all sorts of flavours from flowers, perfumes and herbs. The result is a mix of flavours that are underpinned by the ever-present taste of a high-quality orthodox-produced tea.

Take rose tea for example, which evokes the soft fragrance of a cottage garden in full bloom. Or jasmine tea, based on a mix of jasmine blossoms with green or Oolong tea to give a delicate, refreshing, floral note. Then there's the famous Lapsang Souchong, or smoked tea - which has the aroma and taste of a wood fire thanks to being smoked in bamboo baskets over burning pine roots.

Of course, the most famous scented tea is Earl Grey. The original recipe is a blend of Chinese black teas to which oil from the bergamot fruit is added. Nowadays, Earl Grey is produced from a variety of black teas, and in some cases, even green tea is used. The quality of an Earl Grey depends very much on the original leaves used and the quality of the processing. The scent plays an important part as well - too much and the tea will taste like perfume, but too little and its delicate floral flavour won't even be noticed. To spot a good Earl Grey look for a fresh, citrusy aroma and a delicate, but clearly discernible flavour. More recently, the Grey family has grown, with Princess Grey being latest addition. This blends Darjeeling and Keemum with orange peel and cornflower blossoms for a flavour slightly different to that of the original Earl Grey.

AN EARL AND HIS TEA

There are various tales about how Earl Grey tea got its name. According to one account, the British Prime Minister Charles Grey, who was the Second Earl Grey, ordered a consignment of exquisite teas from China around the year 1830. The ship carrying the tea was also transporting bergamot oil and the two substances were mixed in rough seas. Instead of refusing the strangely scented leaves, the Earl is said to have put them in a brew. The result proved to be far tastier than anyone could have imagined!