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Episode 11, Part 1 - A Day in My Shoes - Linda Villano - SerendipiTea

Sunday, September 29th 2013 @ 2:11 PM

A Day in My Shoes – Episode 11, Part 1 - Linda Villano, SerendipiTea


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Welcome to A Day in My Shoes – a blog and sometimes vlog as The Tea House Times publisher, Gail Gastelu, puts herself in another person’s shoes for the day – going behind the scenes in the tea industry!  If you are just joining us, go to the Archived entries in the left column to catch up - beginning with January 2013.  OR

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EPISODE 11, PART 1 – A DAY IN MY SHOES – LINDA VILLANO, SERENDIPITEA

BLENDING TEA AT SERENDIPITEA

Hello everyone, this is Gail Gastelu, Publisher of The Tea House Times.  This is Episode 11, Part 1 – Blending Tea with Linda Villano at SerendipiTea.

First things first, do you know what the word serendipity means? One meaning is – an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident. Or - good fortune or luck. I definitely feel that I experienced serendipity while blending tea at SerendipiTea!  In fact, if you know me or have had contact with me personally since that day, the experience was much more than a desirable outcome but an overwhelmingly rewarding day and quite possibly the best ever that I have experienced - fully immersed in tea.

A Day in My Shoes with Linda Villano provided a lot of information for me to share with you. But, before telling you more about Linda, I would like to begin with the journey of blending tea…..and this is how it began…..Having set the date to explore SerendipiTea and everything they do there, I felt it was important to share the experience of blending tea first hand. Tea blending is not something that just happens instantaneously. You must have the proper tools and ingredients and you must know each of the ingredients to be able to put things together.  You must be familiar with flavor profiles, aroma and visual appeal and must have a reason to include each ingredient in the blend. Color, texture, and aroma must all be in proper balance as well.

Before meeting with Linda, she sent me the SerendipiTea catalog and lists of ingredients available for blending.  She asked me to think about what ingredients I would be interested in selecting, which tea base those would be best to blend with such as black tea or green tea, and so on.  I also studied the teas that SerendipiTea already has on offer to see what types of blends made the most sense. I put a few ideas together and presented them to Linda, but as I did this, a light bulb went off in my head. Why was I attempting to create a random blend? Or something that, without experience, I would be guessing would go well together. Of course the whole idea was to explore the process but at this point it became more personal and I wanted to deeply feel an appreciation for putting something together that would make my heart sing and something I could share with others that would hopefully share that feeling and experience.

Now I went back to the drawing board and rather than trying to come up with a random blend, started with a base of my favorite Jasmine Pearls and pondered where it could go from there. Yes. I know what you are thinking. This girl must be mad. You do not mess with the perfection of Jasmine Pearls. Not to mention they are quite costly. How could I have the nerve to do anything to those fabulous pearls or blend them with anything at all? No matter – I was determined, and here is how it proceeded in the blending room at SerendipiTea.

Linda set me up with all of the equipment necessary to practice my hand at blending. She gave me plenty of ingredients to explore, smell, touch, taste and consider.   Additional tools included a mixing bowl, gram scale, measuring spoon, notebook, storage containers, Kraft bags, and of course hot water and cupping sets. The process begins by considering the tea or tisane base, steep time and necessary water temperature, knowledge of ingredients, and proper use of tools already provided.  A very important step is taking very good and detailed notes along the way, noting intensity of flavors, weight/volume/size/density of each ingredient, and concentrating on your own thoughts that will contribute to the success of the blend.  First you begin by blending a very small amount of ingredients and this is the reason you use a gram scale. You blend very small amounts to see what works, taste it, and then adjust. Later when the perfect blend has been created, the mixture will be scaled up. 

That’s it for now.  Next week I will share the process of creating my own personal blend.

 

Next week will be more vlog-like with photos of the blending experience!

 

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