In May I took Monarch Tea Co’s virtual Tea Blending Class, and it was a blast. They offer a few different virtual classes all taking place on Zoom. Recently they added an iced tea and cocktails class to celebrate the warmer months. Tea 101 and Tea and Chocolate are a couple other classes.
For the classes you sign up on their website and reserve your spot in advance. The class sizes are limited so make sure you grab your spot when you’ve decided on a date. Shortly before the class date, you will receive a box full of supplies. For the Tea Blending class, this was a big box chock full of teas, herbs, spices, and other great tea inclusions. You also get a tea tasting wheel, craft paper bags, and fill-able teabags. Katie, the owner of Monarch Tea, also sends you an email with instructions and ideas for how to set up your supplies for the class. You do want to start preparing early so you are all ready to go when the class starts.
For the blending class, she recommended gathering several bowls and spoons to have all your ingredients laid out in front of you, but there are other options for set up if you do not have that many bowls or space available. You do want one larger bowl and a spoon to do your blending in, and a cup of your favorite tea to sip on while everything gets started. She also suggests gathering any other teas or ingredients that you might already have and want to use along with the ingredients in the kit. I added cardamom, cocoa shells, ginger, and spearmint. I have done some experimenting here and there with making my own blends a cup at a time, so I was very excited to learn more of the theory behind blending.
A little while before the class began, I set up my blending space with all the ingredients and bowls. I got my electric kettle and some extra cups for testing out my blends and made a small pot of Houji-genmaicha and waited for class to start.
At the beginning of the class, Katie did mention that it was fine not to talk if anyone happened to be uncomfortable doing so, it was fine to just watch or comment through the Zoom chat. We began with everyone introducing themselves and saying their favorite type of tea and what they were drinking. Katie kept things moving along at a good pace to maximize our hour and a half of time. We started off learning about the history of tea blending and then moved to some theories for the basics of how you might want to create a blend. This came with a chart and ratios which I enjoyed and thought was a great springboard for knowing what we should do. Of course she gave examples of how you do not have to follow that guide with blending, really it is a lot of test and see what might work.
Then we talked briefly about each of the ingredients that came in our kits and she had us smell each of them as we went along. This was where I think I got the best advice because in smelling them you may be drawn to certain things to start with and you can use the scents to help figure out what might go well together.
The blending portion of the class began and she put on some music while we worked. Katie was there for any questions we had and she gave us some book recommendations on blending.
The smell of the Mango Love tea that was one of our ingredients had been tempting me with its scent throughout the whole class, so I knew I wanted to do something with that first. Its lime scent smelled so delicious as it had been wafting my way by the breeze from the open window. I paired it up with a Sencha base and added a little chamomile and rose to give a floral touch. I mixed them all up and loaded some into one of the teabags and set it to steep as I started work on a second idea.
Though the recommendation was to have one blending bowl, I brought a couple extras, this way I could work on multiple things and keep adjusting my blends as I tasted them. Katie did encourage us to name our blends and share the names if we wanted, but I couldn’t think of anything during the class. Afterwards I came up with Spring Mango for the first blend. Katie also said if we came up with a good blend to share it with the others. After trying my first tea, I decided it needed a bit more flavor so I added more of all of my inclusions, then I typed my blend into the chat to share.
For my second blend, I wanted to do something with rose. Starting with and English Breakfast base, I added a little rose petals and then decided to make it chocolate by adding some cocoa shells. Chocolate and rose sounded like a good combination, but I wondered it it needed a little something more, so I smelled though the ingredients again and landed on cinnamon. I’d heard of some rose and cinnamon blends and I do like cinnamon in my hot chocolate so it sounded like a good fit. Now the trick was to not overpower with cinnamon, so I started small. On trying this blend I decided to go with a bit more cinnamon and cocoa shells. I loved the way it turned out, chocolaty, floral, with a bit of spice, definitely my favorite of the two blends. Spicy Valentine is the name I chose for this one.
Everyone was getting into good blending zones mixing up all sorts of fun ideas, but then our time ran out and we had to wrap up the class. Probably the only thing I would want to change about the class would be to make it longer. It may also be nice to have a bit earlier in the day, because trying caffeinated teas at seven or eight can get you a bit wired. I understand the time thing though to make it at a decent time for several time zones. I was actually the only one in my class from the United States, everyone else was from Canada, which is where Monarch Tea Co is based.
I would recommend Monarch Tea Co’s classes to anyone looking to learn more about tea or looking to have some fun with tea. The blending class was very enjoyable and I have heard some rave reviews about the other classes as well. They all come with plenty of tea so you can keep the fun going even after the class ends. It was nice to get to spend some time with people and discuss our shared love of tea.
Thanks for spending some time with me and learning about my tea blending, I hope you have a lovely day!