'You can have any colour you want...as long as it's black'
-Henry Ford on the Model T
Most of my weekly travel is relatively nearby, but Thursday mornings I go to a little town about half an hour east-northeast of Munich called Poing. My clients work for an industrial printer/copier manufacturer, and although their actual business is mind-numbingly boring, the people are hilarious. Most of what I do is help people break down stereotypes of the different nationalities they work with, and help them learn to better understand other people.
Because I never know what to expect refreshment-wise when I go to companies, I always pack a thermos or two. It does take time out of my morning ritual, but when I'm sitting in a meeting sipping on an above-average Oolong or Darjeeling, it makes it worth my while. Without a doubt.
Today I had half a mug left over for the ride home, and I savoured it as we sped through the vibrant green fields back towards the city. It was a blend from different teas I picked up in Hamburg in the spring. The tea comes from a region between Hamburg and the Netherlands called Ostfriesland. Talked at length with a few tea shop owners in Hamburg when I was there and learned a bit about what makes a good blend of black teas.
The tannins in black tea are incredibly healthy, but unfortunately bitter. I've toyed with blending the bitterest of my black teas with milder ones and it seems the balance is the secret. As bitter as you can make it, but not too much so. Am always trying mixtures of different Assams and other teas I find.
One tea I don't drink on it's own, because it's just too bitter, is an Assam called Greenwood. Mixed with other teas, it's fantastic. One of the teas I've found that softens the blow is actually a tea from Java called Santosa. It has all the strength of a good Assam without the bitterness. At least that's my experience.
I'm still partial to Indian teas. I love green and white teas, and it doesn't matter to me whether they're from Japan or China or somewhere else in Asia. But I still get such a kick out of a new Darjeeling I haven't tried before. African black teas are purportedly excellent. Need to find a shop that offers them.
If you have any tips or questions about blending black teas, please leave a comment here. If I don't know the answer to your queries, I'll make every effort to find the answer out. Would love to do it.