I have this friend from College named Caroline. Now Caroline is one of those people who loves to travel. She not only loves to travel, she truly lives to travel. If you ever go to her house it is easy to tell her favorite countries and cultures. She will always try to bring back a single item that encapsulates her entire travel experience in that country. She will have things like an ornate calligraphy brushes from Hong Kong, a Matryoshka doll set from Moscow or a piece of hand-blown glass from Murano, Italy.

Like Caroline, I also have this need to try and bring home different cultures. Instead of trying to collect unique items from a country, I try to bring back all of my experiences through the biggest passion in my life… Tea.

In order to do this, I developed a four-step process to capture the essence of all the great experiences I had while traveling. This process is applied to every single blend we create.

First we find the flavor

Since all of our blends are based off my travel experiences, it all starts with a great flavor. The inspiration may come from a secret preparation of Crème Brulee by a chef in France, a sip of fresh coconut water in Bora Bora or even the smell of my grandmother making tea in Hong Kong. Each one of these blends has a special meaning to me and I make sure that I get it right by matching the flavors with the perfect tea.

Second we match that flavor to a style of tea
Now that we have the flavor, we need to match it with the correct tea. Since there are so many different teas, the amount of combination's is almost limitless. We will generally test between 10 and 30 different teas to find the perfect match for the flavor we based the blend around. Once we know what tea base we want to see, we have to balance the blend.

Third we strike a balance so the blends are in harmony
Once we find the ideal tea to match our flavor, the next step is to make sure they balance perfectly. Much like Mediterranean chefs, we have the belief that if you use the best quality ingredients that simplicity is best. The key to making a simple blend is to be sure all the ingredients balance each other perfectly.  Our goal is to make the flavor compliment the tea, not overpower it. With most of our blends you will taste the tea up front on your palate, and then the flavor will kick in the back of your palate in with a nice smooth finish.   

But aren’t tea blends less sophisticated than single estate teas?

Most companies allow the flavor to dominate the taste of the tea itself. The reason they do this is to cover up the fact they are using a poor quality tea base. When one part of the blend dominates the rest of the flavors, then you will hear people saying it tastes artificial. This has led to the belief that somehow blends are less authentic then single estate teas. But remember, the Chinese understood the power of blending flavors together. In fact, they have a blend that is thousands of years old, Jasmine Tea, and it happens to be the most popular green tea in the world.

Summary
Our four-step process will create a tea blend that is flavorful and well balanced. It has also allowed me to share my passion of absorbing different cultures throughout my travels. Instead of hauling paint brushes and dolls from your favorite countries like Caroline, maybe reliving your favorite places in the world is as easy as sipping a cup of tea.