03 December 2011

Experiments with blending

The recent teas I tried came from 10g (+/-) samples. Because I tested each using 7g in my gaiwan, I had about 2-4g of each left. I decided to review the results of the first brews to see which teas I thought might blend well.

Here they are again, in short:
  1. Douji 2011 Nannuo
    1. Good: aroma, flavor, bittersweetness (gan), camphor
    2. Bad: thin texture, flavors could be stronger in later infusions
  2. Douji 2011 Mengsong Mao Cha
    1. Good: heavy in "middle flavors"
    2. Bad: weak flavor and texture
  3. Douji 2011 Red Da Dou (thrown out!)
    1. Good: ??
    2. Bad: green tea pu
  4. Yangpin Hao 2011 (2010?) Jingmai
    1. Good: mouthfeel, savory bass notes, interesting flavors, some cooling/camphor
    2. Bad: gives out quickly, becomes unpleasant when it gives out, a bit sour at times
  5. Dayi 2011 7542
    1. Good: well rounded, potent, aftertaste lasts once it appears
    2. Bad: smoky aroma, can brew sour, no initial aftertaste
I decided to make two blends, the first a 50/50 blend of 7542 and Douji Nannuo, and the second a 50/50 blend of the YPH Jingmai and Douji Mengsong. I didn't quite have enough of the Jingmai for the second blend, so I threw in about 0.5g of the 7542, of which I had too much.

Here's what I learned:

  • Blending is not a straightforward science
Two teas with good traits mixed in equal portions does not make a tea that has all their traits equally highlighted. Some of the finer notes of the older tree maocha disappeared into softening the harsher notes of the plantation tea. While the effect was good, it tasted like "less than the sum of its parts".

  • A little plantation tea goes a long way in a blend
Being stronger in bitterness and off flavors, a little plantation leaf goes a long way. To the same effect, old tree tea requires less correction, I think. The 50/50 blend of Nannuo-7542 tasted like 75% 7542 and 25% Nannuo, and the 47.5/47.5/5 blend of Mengsong, Jingmai, and 7542 tasted like 85% plantation and 15% Mengsong. I think an actual 85/15 or 75/25 blend of these two teas would have been a better place to start.

This made me think of the many, many times vendors told me that a pu'er was a blend of X (plantation) with a little bit of Y (old leaf). My taste buds made me skeptical of such claims, because very little if any trace of old leaf traits could be found in those teas. Now I wonder if the vendor told the truth, but the producer did a poor job of blending. Ah, speculation.

  • It's not easy, but it's fun!
Blending stuff makes fun work out of the odds and ends of samples that otherwise get thrown in a big jar of leftover samples (to later become what MarshalN calls "house blend").


Hobbes said...

Dear Jason,

An interesting experiment - thanks for the notes. It is a notoriously tricky venture!



P.s. Ahem: House Blend

Bearsbearsbears said...


I have two big jars full of house blend...we should swap some in 10 years!


Anonymous said...

One thing that seems to consistently work is do lots of one, about 80% and a little of the other, about 20%.


Anonymous said...

why did you blend your teas?

Bearsbearsbears said...

@anon single region teas often are strong in one or two traits and weaker in one or two traits. I tried blending to see if I could make a well rounded blend.