How Tea Is Produced
About 90 percent of the tea sold at your local market is a blend of many teas. Blending allows manufacturers to provide a consistent flavor for their brand and keeps the price stable, despite the weather or market factors. To create the taste that a customer has come to rely on, a manufacturer will blend together dozens of different teas. Some even use 70 different teas to get just the right flavor.
Tea manufacturers typically send specialized buyers to hundreds of tea estates to sample their teas and select those that will best suit their blends. Once the teas arrive at the blending factory, they are combined and tested by highly trained tea tasters who have spent years learning to detect the variations of texture, taste, and aroma of brewed teas.
Tea blending is an art, and it requires a sensitive palate and a keen nose. On any given day, a tea taster may sample 200 to 1,000 cups of tea. Just like wine tasters, tea tasters first sniff the brew. Then they sip a bit, swish it around in their mouths, and spit it out. The tasters determine which teas and what amounts of them will exactly match the control version of a particular tea.
Many tea manufacturers add other flavorings or scents to their teas. These can be added during the processing stage at the tea plantation, or they can be added at the blending factory. Jasmine tea, for instance, is made by spreading jasmine flowers into the tea while it is oxidizing, while spices such as cinnamon or flavorings such as lemon are commonly added at the factory.
To learn more about tea, see:
Rebecca D. Williams, Michele Price Mann