It must therefore follow that by the skillful and judicious mixing or blending of a number of Teas, each differing in variety or grade, a more uniform, pleasing and palatable Tea, that is, one richer in liquor, heavier in body and more aromatic in flavor, can be produced by this now acknowledged principle at a more moderate cost to dealer and consumer than can otherwise be obtained from any single variety or grade of Tea.

Tea Blending as a Fine Art

Tea Blending as a Fine Art

It’s hard to say who was the first person to come up with the notion of blending different varieties of tea, but by 1896 the practice was sufficiently well established that author Joseph M. Walsh was motivated to write a manual on the process called Tea-Blending as a Fine Art. I wasn’t able to find much information about Walsh, aside from the fact that he wrote several other books about tea and at least one volume about coffee. His book is a rather practical guide and is filled with a great deal of nuts and bolts information. It appears to mostly be geared toward grocers and others seeking to boost profits with tea and contains a range of information on more than just the basics of the actual blending process for tea.

The opening chapters are presumably geared toward those who don’t have much prior knowledge of tea. There’s information on the classification and description of the various types of tea, including varieties from China, Japan, India, Ceylon, and Java. There are also chapters on selecting and testing teas and on determining whether the product has been adulterated, something that was not all that uncommon in earlier times.

English Breakfast Blend No. 1

English Breakfast Blend No. 1

From here it’s on to a chapter on the actual blending process, which includes a number of actual formulas designed to achieve a very specific end result. The rest of the book is devoted to more practical tips on selling tea, including a chapter on storing, selling and preparing tea, one on government standards for tea and one called Important Facts About Tea.

Walsh wraps it all up with a chapter called Art of Advertising Teas, which includes actual advertising slogans, basic pointers on how to display tea and other tidbits of general advice that are not necessarily specific to tea selling. Some of these are quite offbeat, including the caution to not “wear your fingernails in half-mourning,” whatever that means. It should probably go without saying that the grocers and/or tea merchants shouldn’t “spit on your floor or allow others to do so” but Walsh includes it as a useful pointer even so.

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