The Tea Detective
Uncovering and Exploring the Facts About Tea
Blended and Scented Teas-the Differences
and Similarities Between Them
With the many different types and styles of tea available today it can be quite
confusing especially when a tea crosses over to more than one category, as is
the case with some blended and scented teas.  One such example is the ever
popular Earl Grey which is a blended tea but also crosses over to a scented or
flavored tea, with the addition of bergamot oil, a citrus type fruit similar to an
The main difference between blended and
scented teas is that blended teas are a
combination of several teas blended togeth-
er to achieve a certain flavor profile. Blended
teas have been around for centuries, but it
was the British who began blending Chinese
Indian teas in the 19th century to create
specific flavor profiles that could be duplicat-
ed again and again.

The Lipton, Twinings, and other tea manu-
facturers of that time began creating
ed teas
to satisfy the customer's demands.  
English Breakfast was one popular blended
tea created by British tea makers to appeal
to average citizens looking for a brisk simple
morning tea.  In the beginning it was made
using mild
Chinese black teas.
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In the latter part of the 19th century, though, new British tea barons were growing their own
tea in India, whose teas were stronger than the mild China black teas.  Today's English
blended tea is made using a combination of both Chinese black tea and the stronger
India blends of
Assam or Nilgiri black tea.  

Many blended teas were created to satisfy the flavor preferences
of a specific locale, such as Irish Breakfast, similar to English Break-
fast, but with a greater portion of
Kenya tea and sometimes even
a blend of
Indonesian black teas to create the strong, dark tea pre-
ferred by the Irish.

Indian Breakfast is usually made with a blend of
Darjeeling and
Assam or Darjeeling and
Nilgiri, which tend to be lighter and fruitier than either English or Irish

                                                That brings us back to
Earl Grey which is probably the most
                                                recognizable blended tea in the world, traditionally made from a
                                                blend of
China black tea, but as stated above, Earl Grey also
                                                crosses over as a scented or flavored tea.

                                                Scented teas can either be created with a single base tea, such
                                                as green, black, white,
oolong, etc., or can have a blended base
such as Earl Grey.  
Jasmine tea, for example, is likely the most famous scented tea, traditionally
made with a base of
green tea.

          Early Chinese tea masters experimented with and excelled at producing teas scented
          with the many different aromatic flowers they had at their disposal.  The technique of
          scenting tea with flowers is now
          used worldwide.

          Jasmine, wild rosebuds, chrysanthe
          mums, osmanthus (sweet almond
          flowers), and many other sweet, ex-
          otic blossoms are used to scent tea
          today, including the beautiful
          blossoms used to make Vietnam's
          Lotus tea.  Even aromatic types of
          fruit such as lychee or orange can be
          used to scent partially finished teas.

          The base used for scented teas can
          be a single type of tea or a blend. To
          produce a premium scented tea, the
          base tea must be precisely and pro-
          perly prepared.  When making premium, traditional jasmine scented tea, for example, a
          standard base tea of black, white, or green, etc., is not used.  Instead a very lightly
          oxidized  leaf called pouchong (or zao bei) which translates to "tea readied," is used.

          The pouching or zao bei base tea readily allows the absorption of the aromatic scent of
          the flower.  Top quality pouching that is used as a base for scented teas is harvested in
          the spring and sometimes must be stored until the flowers come into full bloom which
                                              can occur in late summer.  This is the case with jasmine which
blooms late in July through early September.

                                              Top grade
white tea, which is also minimally oxidized is also often
                                              used as a base.  White tea has a delicate flavor which doesn't
                                              overpower the sweet, light scent of the blossoms, making it the
                                              perfect counterpart for some scented teas.

                                              When producing top grades of scented teas, sometimes fresh
                                              flowers are also added at the end of processing to add a little
                                              extra dose of fragrance, and also to make the tea more visually
                                              appealing and colorful.

          Today there are literally thousands of combinations and styles of tea as  well as
          teas and tisanes.  So to be certain you know what you're getting it's important to
          always carefully read the package labels which should specify and list all the ingredients.
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