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Creating Signature Blends

As a small business entrepreneur, I chose to start with only sixteen teas for my local market booth. Over the 6 1/2 years, I have added many more, some of which have been experiments on my part as a result of being asked to blend for special occasions. Yes, most of my tea selection is from experienced blending companies. But here's a glance at the first two of several of what I call Lady Baker's Signature Blends.

"I'd love to offer my best friend a special tea for her bridal shower. Got a suggestion?" This question was posed by my daughter so I knew she would understand my hesitation and resulting bloopers due to my meek experience in tea blending.

[caption id="attachment_1489" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Love and Lavender Love and Lavender[/caption]

"Well," I sighed, "what does she tea, white tea...lemon...lime...lavender...? What about her wedding colours - should we play with that idea?" On and on went our conversation till we came up with some ideas. This was FUN!

As the final result emerged after several taste tests, we had Caroline's Blend (White Lady Grey). Lavender is highlighted in this Pai Mutan (literally means 'white peony' in Chinese) tea with a touch of oil of bergamot. So, what is white tea? It's all in the processing. New tea leaf buds are plucked before they open and processed in two steps only - withering and drying. The leaves have a downy appearance and the taste is delicate and sweet.

[caption id="attachment_1490" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Pai Mutan - White Peony Pai Mutan - White Peony[/caption]

What better way to learn how to blend teas than by simply experimenting? I was used to baking a lot, throwing in spices or switching ingredients when necessary. It can't be that difficult! Along came the opportunity to try again.

"I'd like to be a sponsor of the 2009 Canada Games. I can't afford the entire sponsorship amount but could I offer a 'Games Blend' to add to the gift bags being offered to the organizers?" I asked a bit timidly.

The committee of one rested her chin in her hand and gave it some thought as I waited.

"Yes, that would be very acceptable," she responded.

I was delighted, for sure! But somewhat unnerved. I was making a commitment to the 2009 Canada Games Committee!

[caption id="attachment_1488" align="aligncenter" width="793"]Sponsorship - Yay! Sponsorship - Yay![/caption]

The 2009 Games were happening on Prince Edward Island and since tea has so many health benefits, it seemed like a no-brainer. Concocting an original, enticing and invigorating libation was not so easy as I thought. How could my small business represent the fine fresh tastes of PEI? The name, at least, came quickly - Blooming Blueberry!

[caption id="attachment_1487" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Colourful and delicious Colourful and delicious - see a blueberry or two?[/caption]

This blend has grown from infancy. The original blend of the games, though tasty, didn't quite make my own grade. The base ingredient is an organic black tea with natural blueberry flavouring. Super healthy organic Rooibos and hibiscus were added. It has morphed and greatly improved with ratio adjustments and the addition of real PEI blueberries, dried by my business assistant, Jen, on her farm on the Argyle Shore. It is fantastic as an iced blend in August, when our blueberries are ready for harvest.

So these are the first 2 of my signature blends. I must go to my tea workroom now to ponder a new blending challenge. I was asked just recently to blend a specific tea with certain herbs and spices. I am excited about the forthcoming experiment!

Do keep joining me at tea time for these weekly blogs and I will talk more about my signature blends. There are several more to share with you. Until next time, keep calm and drink tea!

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