In the previous blog post, we started a thread on some of the most popular custom tea blends featuring loose-leaf tea. We explored a deeply rooted tradition of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) of mixing loose-leaf tea with various medicinal herbs, fruits, and flowers, among others, to create tea elixirs that are both therapeutic and aromatic. The healing concoctions aim to boost the inherent advantages of tea and introduce a unique blend of taste and scent. Experts in Traditional Chinese Medicine, seasoned tea professionals, and tea enthusiasts carefully create these mixes. They focus on harmonizing the wellness aspects with the enjoyable sensory experiences of the tea.
We have explored some of Green and White Tea's custom tea blends. In this blog post, we continue with some of the most aromatic and complex tea types, namely Oolong tea, Red tea or Hong Cha (known as Black tea in the Western world), and Hei Cha, with Pu-erh tea as one of its most notable representatives. We'll learn about the different tea blends created with those tea types. We'll also explore the healthy advantages they bring along and how their ancient wisdom might benefit our modern lives.
Oolong tea blends: balancing aroma and character
"The perfume of teas" is a self-explanatory nickname for the most recent addition to the six tea types in China and worldwide. Oolong tea (乌龙茶) is among the most aromatic tea categories out there, whether it's a thick and robust Rock tea from Fujian, a light and creamy Taiwanese milky Oolong, or an enchanting floral Dancong from Guangdong. The secret of this overflowing aroma might well be hidden behind the most complex production process in tea crafting. Oolong Tea undergoes a time- and labor-consuming processing that involves hours of non-stop handling. The result is a partially oxidated tea (varying from 30% to 70-80%) and a great variety of aroma and flavor profiles that go with the various oxidation degrees. From exotic flowers through honey and nectary sweetness to the deep caramel notes topped up with milky creaminess, Oolong tea has all it takes to turn into the unanimous crowd pleaser. However, it's not just about the looks (or, shall we say, the smells) of it. Oolong tea's health benefits are as varied as its aroma and flavor palette. TCM credits Oolong tea with the ability to refresh the mind, relieve fatigue, aid digestion, and lower blood lipids, among others.
Osmanthus Oolong: A Fusion of Healing Fragrances
The combination of Oolong Tea and Osmanthus marries two of the most enchanting aromas in the plant world! This evergreen shrub grows freely in public parks, forests, and mountains anywhere from the Himalayas to Turkey. Do not let its unpretentious nature fool you, though. Osmanthus is among the top 10 famous flowers in China, and its medicinal properties have been known and used by TCM practitioners for centuries. As early as the Han dynasty, ancients claimed that "drinking Osmanthus wine can extend your life to a thousand years." Osmanthus tea is famous for its ability to moisten the lungs, alleviate cough, and disperse phlegm, making it a go-to remedy for respiratory tract diseases. It has a warm nature, warming the internal organs and activating the blood circulation.
On the other hand, oolong tea is believed to balance the yin and yang within the body, aiding digestion and metabolism with its moderate nature. When combined, Oolong tea and Osmanthus create a tea blend that delights the senses with its pervasive aroma and complex flavor profile and enhances the body's natural balance and well-being. This blend is often recommended in TCM for its potential to boost immunity, alleviate digestive issues, and provide a calming effect, making it an ideal choice for holistic health enthusiasts.
Winter Melon Peel Oolong Tea: The Cool(ing) Pair
Blending Oolong Tea with winter melon peels creates a delightful and powerful combination. Oolong Tea, known for its balanced nature and aromatic complexity, pairs well with winter melon peels' cooling and cleansing properties. In TCM, winter melon peel is revered for clearing heat, promoting fluid production, and facilitating detoxification. When combined with the metabolic-boosting and digestive aid of Oolong Tea, this blend becomes particularly beneficial during the warmer months or for individuals with a 'hot' constitution. This tea blend can help regulate the body's internal temperature, aid in gentle detoxification, and support healthy digestion.
The combination of Oolong Tea and Winter Melon Peel clears away heat, detoxifies, produces body fluids, and quenches thirst. It is especially suitable for alleviating discomfort caused by cough.
Longan Oolong Tea: A Sweet Embrace
Blending Oolong Tea with Longan introduces a delightful combination of the floral notes of Oolong and the sweet, warming essence of Longan fruit. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, longan is revered for its ability to nourish the heart and spleen, promoting a balance of energy within the body and enhancing overall vitality and well-being.
This pairing not only offers a tea experience rich in depth and aroma but also brings forward the inherent benefits of both ingredients. It aids digestion and regulates lipid metabolism, making it an ideal after-meal drink. Furthermore, the antioxidant properties of Oolong, combined with the nutritional richness of longan, provide a protective effect against oxidative stress, potentially reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
Warming Wellness: The Comforting Embrace of Red Tea
Red Tea, or Hong Cha (红茶), known in the West as Black Tea, holds a cherished spot in Traditional Chinese medicine for its warming properties. It undergoes a full oxidation process, imparting a rich, deep color and defining its warming nature, making it a preferred choice during cooler seasons. Red Tea promotes circulation, aids digestion, and is gentle to the stomach. Red Tea warms the body and offers a gentle uplift to the spirit and relief from fatigue without the over-caffeinated boost and coffee jitters.
Rose-Infused Red Tea: A Soothing Blend for Wellness and Glow
Pairing red tea with rose creates a harmonious blend that leverages the best of both worlds, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Red tea, known for its warming properties, provides a robust base with its deep, malty flavors and ability to invigorate the body gently. On the other hand, a rose, with its sweet smell and slightly bitter profile, is celebrated for its ability to soothe the mind, promote qi, and alleviate feelings of depression.
This blend isn't just a treat for the senses with its rich aroma and layered flavors; it's also a tonic for the body. Rose's qualities of purifying blood and uplifting the spirit complement red tea's energizing essence. Together, they offer a unique tea experience that rejuvenates and aids in skin health, making it a preferred choice for those looking to enhance their natural glow.
Moreover, this combination is particularly appreciated after a long day or a festive night out, as it can help alleviate fatigue and counteract the effects of alcohol. The calming properties of the rose, coupled with the steady warmth of red tea, make for a soothing elixir that can help restore balance and tranquility to both mind and body.
Red Tea with Black Wolfberry: Antioxidant Boost
Combining the robust warmth of red tea with the distinct richness of black wolfberry (hei gouqi – 黑枸杞) creates a fusion that's both invigorating and nourishing. Known in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its potent health benefits, black wolfberry stands out with its deep, dark color, indicating a high concentration of antioxidants. When blended with the malty, sweet notes of red tea, it forms a beverage that's both gentle and uplifting from the inside.
With its warming nature, red tea enhances circulation and aids digestion, making it a perfect base for the nutrient-rich black wolfberry. This berry, revered for its ability to improve vision, boost immune function, and support kidney health, infuses the tea with a subtle sweetness and a burst of antioxidants. The blend is especially beneficial in cooler months, providing a comforting warmth that radiates from within, promoting a sense of well-being and vitality.
Hei Cha: The Fermented Tea Blend
Hei Cha (黑茶), or dark tea, holds a special place in the tea world. Unlike other teas, Hei Cha undergoes a post-fermentation process, giving it a distinct, earthy flavor that transforms over time. This tea type is known for its rich taste and health benefits, including aiding digestion and reducing cholesterol. Pu-erh is highly valued among tea enthusiasts for its complexity and the nuanced changes it undergoes during aging. Whether enjoyed fresh or aged, Hei Cha offers a rich and satisfyingly flavorful experience, along with a multitude of health benefits.
Chen Pi Hei Cha: Elevating Hei Cha with Citrus Boost
Hei Cha and Chen Pi are a pair that has enjoyed a particularly high reputation in China since ancient times. A cherished concoction in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this custom tea blend marries the deep, earthy tones of Hei Cha with the zesty vibrance of Chen Pi.
Tangerine peel, or Chen Pi (陈皮), stands for its ability to regulate the flow of Qi (气), promote effective digestion, and resolve issues like bloating, nausea, or indigestion by ensuring a smooth flow of vital energy in the central section (middle Jiao) of the body, namely spleen, and stomach.
The aromatic oils of Chen Pi, rich in antioxidants, meld with the fermented depths of Hei Cha, creating a brew that's as invigorating as it is comforting.
With both Hei Cha and Chen Pi being considered natural remedies of critical importance, this stands as one of the most potent custom tea blends to enhance the quality of tea drinkers' daily lives from Antiquity to modern days. Try it yourself!
Tibetan Jasmine Hei Cha: A Delicate Look with Robust Depths
Tibetan Jasmine Hei Cha merges the rich, fruity essence of traditional Hei Cha with the captivating fragrance of jasmine. This blend honors the ancient tea traditions of the region while introducing the delicate scent of jasmine, known for its soothing properties and its ability to uplift the spirit.
TCM values Hei Cha for its warming qualities and its capability to aid digestion. This is a great pair for people living in cooler climates or for those with a cooler body constitution. The addition of jasmine not only enhances the tea's aroma but also brings its own set of benefits, including stress relief and potential mood elevation.
Tibetan Jasmine Hei Cha often uses a small leaf jasmine variety, locally grown in the area of Sichuan. The region is one of the cradles of tea culture in China, with tea growing and consumption history dating back as early as 2000 years ago. On top of its health benefits, Tibetan Jasmine Hei Cha serves also as a bridge between the old and the new, preserving the deep-rooted tea traditions of Sichuan and introducing them into the modern reality.