Creating the Perfect Gift: Signature Blends
By Christine Rillo
Zodiac Signature Blend Series
DiggNation Signature Blend Series
Mintastic Tea Blend
So, it's that time of year again. The dreaded gift-giving season that we all have a love/hate relationship with. Finding the perfect gift for so and so on your list can lead to stress, buyer's remorse, etc. Now, why don't we make things a little easier on you. If you know your gift recipient is into tea and want to gift them something other than the typical gift set of tea, teaware, and other accessories, why not get them a personalized creation that you've put some thought into?
The idea of blending teas might sound like a skill that you have to invest years of study under a strict 'Tea Yogi' who will teach you how to blend your way into enlightenment. But, really it isn't! We have had our Signature Blend feature on our website for almost a year and since then we've had thousands of blends created by customers, ranging from the sublime to the obscure. All you need is some creativity, an understanding of teas, and your tastebuds!
Where to begin? Our Signature Blends feature allows you to blend up to three teas. We choose this because any more teas added to the mix will muddle the blend and provide a disjointed flavor for your blend. Think of something to base your blend on. This can be literally anything! Of course you have your flavored combination standards- something like a mint-chocolate flavor, or vanilla-strawberry flavor. In the world of our Signature Blends, we have seen many customer get super creative in this aspect. They're used popular tv and movie characters to base their flavors around, time periods, astrological signs, books, places- the ideas are infinite. Think of the person you are creating the blend for. Would they enjoy a blend made up of flavored teas? Or would they prefer a blend of non-flavored teas? A fun idea for the holidays is creating a family or group themed Signature Blend! Think of all the crazy qualities that make up your family, or an event that your family has fond memories- perhaps a vacation to the Caribbean? That can be easily translated by making a blend of guanabana, mango, and rum. Let your imagination and creativity run wild. List the three teas you're interested in and a suggested ratio for each.
If you're familiar with our teas you can start blending once logged in. But, it always helps to experiment before hand. By experimentation I mean purchasing samples of the flavors you're interested in blending, mixing up in different ratios, cupping the blends, and seeing if you like them. This is a great tip if you're interested in making a blend that you want to purchase many of, or if you're completely unfamiliar with our teas. This also helps if you're a first time customer, since you can only create a Signature Blend as a returning customer. It's good to know the flavor of each tea on it's own so you can see that it melds with others. This goes for unflavored teas as well, as they have their own nuances; a Pu Erh Dante has an earthy taste,where as a Gunpowder green tea will have a smoky taste. Understanding the teas' flavors will help you pair them with others to make a good flavor. Ratio is also important- peppermint and spearmint are a popular ingredient in many blends, but you really don't need any more than 10% since it is very potent, and can overpower any other teas in your blend.
Along with understanding the flavors of tea, you should understand the variety of tea you're wishing to blend: this means understanding the temperature of water of the tea and the steeping time. I really advise against mixing white, green, and light colored oolong teas with black, herbal, and dark oolongs. Why? Because the former steeps at a lower temperature of water and at different times than the latter, which uses boiling water. If you mix a small amount of green tea with black for example, it would be ok, but at the same time it's a bit redundant since you won't get any of that flavor from the green, and you will ruin that leaf, which can leave a bitter flavor in your blend. Stick to mixing white and green teas together, and black teas with other black teas or herbals. Herbal teas are your special weapon in rounding out a blend- you only need a little (about 10-20%) to impart some flavor, even when steeped at steeped at a lower temperature.
After figuring out the amounts of each tea you want in your blend, you'll enter them into the website, and our team of tea blenders will make mix up your blend. Another thing to think about aside from the actual tea is an eye-catching label. If you browse through the blends on our featured list you'll see how creative some customer can get! If you are of the artistic type, design a beautiful label that is suitable for your tea. Graphically challenged? Enlist a friend who's savvy in design to come up with something for you. There are also many sites that offer Royalty-Free images that you can use. Simple Paint or Photoshop programs can spruce these images up with some text! And of course, think about using a personal picture. It adds the ultimate in personalization. Making a blend for grandma? Think how much she'll love it more when you include a picture of her brood of grandchildren!
When choosing an image, you'll want to make sure that it's horizontal- why? Because our label is- if you take a vertical image and try to resize it, it will appear distorted- not very pretty! All images have to measure 700x300 pixels. You can easily resize images through Photoshop or even find websites that you can upload your picture to that will doing the reformatting to you. Make sure your images' colors and text are bright and sharp so our printer will take to it nicely.
After creating your blend all you have left is to purchase it! We do offer affordable gift wrap options through check out or you can come up with a fun way to package your new gift. If you want to make it a gift set for your recipient, order along some additions like a piece of teaware or our popular sugar crystals. Check out your local craft store for fun boxes and trimmings to put together a gift box or gift basket with your blends. Once the time comes around the give your special gift, the delight on your tea-lovers face will be worth it!
I hope this article was helpful in demystifying the not-so-mystical realm of tea blending. Enjoy and have fun!