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Custom-blending tea - restaurants or at home

In a SF thread, a dim sum restuarnt serves Gook Bo, a blend of,Chrysanthemum tea and Pu-erh tea.

Another poster said that there was Gook Sau, which is a blend of Gook Fa and Sau Mei tea leaves and went on to say ...

"One can easily custom request any mix at any dim sum restaurant, the afforementioned and Gook Sau blend very well together. I haven't tried other combinations, but maybe not all combos make sense"

Well, this was a new idea to me.

First question: At dim sum places what blends do you request and with which dishes? How do you ask this ... just ask for a pot of a blend of two teas or do you need to know names like Gook Bo?

Second question: This opened up new possibilites. I never considered blending teas. Does anyone do their own blends at home. I bet this would even work with tea bags where you could steep two different bags in one pot.

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  1. I can't answer your first question, but I have blended types of bagged tea. I don't like herbal teas on their own, so I have used one bag (or spoon) of a neutral black tea and one bag of an herbal tea like lemon or mint to get a nicely flavoured black tea.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sooeygun

      That's a great idea. I often find herbel teas too grassy or too something. Maybe this will be a way to use up all those boxes sitting in my cabinet.

    2. To add to the discussion, the really good Hong Kong style cafe's (cha chaan teng) in Hong Kong, they blend upwards of 5 kinds of tea leaves to brew Hong Kong style milk tea. Sadly the type of leaves are all secret, but the general idea is that the mixture creates flavor, form, texture, and color as the end result. The different age of leaves (young vs old) and size/thickness will contribute to those factors. The type of leaves generally are Sri Lankan and Indian with some SE Asian. But it is a matter of experimentation.

      PG Tips (popular British commercial tea) has a special blend tea offering that combines leaves from Ceylon and Kenya.

      As far as the dim sum question, when the waitstaff ask you what tea you want, you can just say "Gook Bo" (for chrysanthemum and pu-erh) or "Gook Sau" (for chrysanthemum and sau mei).

      1 Reply
      1. re: K K

        Hey KK, was able to blend three grades of sau mei with two grades of chrysanthemum with mixed results. If you use a high grade of one mixed with a lower grade of the other I found that one will over match the other. Sau mei is a milder tea than pu-erh so the chrysanthemum smooth out the pu-erh and makes the blend more easy on the taste buds. I may learn to like the second blend but at the moment I like Sau Mei by it self but with that say I could learn to like it.

        Next time I play cards I will have to pick the mind of a poker buddy on blending teas. His family have been in the tea business for generations. I know what I like, but new ideas are welcome but it takes time to change my old ways.

        Tea is something I have developed a taste for. Thanks rwo for starting this thread.

        One blend my cousin got me to love is rose buds with Dragon Pearl Tea balls (rolled green tea leaves that open up after releasing it favor).

      2. That's interesting about dim sum restaurants--I'd not heard that before.

        In general, among tea snobs--and I must admit to being a bit of one--tea blending is considered to be a no-no. The idea is that if the tea is good enough in the first place, blending results in a whole that is less than the sum of the parts. In other words, the unique characteristics of each tea become muddied. I think this is the same attitude many wine enthusiasts have about blending varietals or vintages. Blending a good tea with another flavor, especially if it is a classic like jasmine or bergamot, is generally looked on more favorably, though some really strict tea snobs would probably reject even this notion.

        My own snobbery has many exceptions, and I will gladly blend teas when I've had them awhile and they are past their peak. A little lemongrass gives a nice complexity to an over-the-hill green tea, I've found. And when it comes to ice tea, all bets are off. Pursuing modern interpretations of the southern tea punches that were the original ice teas, I've been known to blend green teas with port wine reductions and citrus juices. This is a different kind of blending of course, but then ice tea is a very different creature from hot tea!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Low Country Jon

          re: blending tea - I would disagree that this practice is an absolute no no among tea snobs. A lady from a leading tea grower's family in Yunnan once suggested that I try a blend of raw and cooked pu-erh, brewing both leaves together. The result was a tea with a more balanced and structured flavour combination. In the end, I would think that it would be dependent on the qualitties of the teas involved and may vary on a case by case basis.

          1. re: Low Country Jon

            Yes, and no, on the blending issue with tea snobs. Ideally, we're all flush enough to enjoy the best quality whole leaf tea every day. Most people recognize that not all teas are going to be affordable for everyone all the time. It's also a shame to toss tea that didn't turn out as balanced or simply not to someone's particular preference and taste. So, I've bought tea that was in some way lacking and ended up blending it to round it out in some form or fashion, playing with the brewing time. One has to be careful when blending teas of the same type, that one will not become too strong or tannic in the time it takes the other to develop in the pot. But, bearing that in mind, it's possible to make something drinkable from leaves you didn't like much by adding another leaf in good proportion. This makes experimenting with different regions and processing methods more affordable.

          2. Here's one example of an extreme case....blending green tea with whiskey .This was discovered entirely by accident....they say by some Taiwanese/Chinese karaoke person who had a little too much time on their hands. It has been the karaoke drinking and singing game drink for a while. Maybe some hipster from the 90s can clue us in on its origin, lol.

            2 Replies
            1. re: K K

              One of my favorite mixed drinks! I was introduced to it in college by a friend who'd studied abroad in China; I've never seen anyone else drink it here. I wouldn't do it with a really high-quality green tea, but for the run-of-the-mill stuff it's great.

              1. re: K K

                Your story is close to my friends who love Remy Martin and add green to his Remy. I have not tried it, I like my tea and my Remy each in it's own place.

              2. i started blending my own teas out of necessity. several years ago, upton tea imports stopped carrying my favorite tea, royal fruit. after a couple of tries, i was able to replicate it. it's a combination of apricot, peach, mango, black current, raspberry and the pineapple and papaya combination from tealuxe and some dried orange peel. i used to buy 4 ounces at a time; now a batch is over a pound.

                i also found a nice combinination: 4 parts organic yunnan with 1 part creme de la earl grey.