We had a lot of fun co-hosting our first Christmas workshop with Helen of Lime Tree Bower at The Hop + Grain Brew Store. Attendees got to take home two of their own blends as well as gorgeous hand-made floral wreathes. There was also delicious catering on the day provided by The Floury Baker as well as our own iced tea dispensers and Helen's delightful floral decoration.
In the Endeavour workshop, we learned a great deal about the fascinating history of tea, including growing regions, processing methods and the art of formulating teas and tisanes, including traditional and modern approaches to blending. For example, we compared the constituents of a branded chai teabag to the freshness and variety of spices and aromatics available on the table; a contrast of new and old world blending.
On display were a tantalising myriad of ingredients ranging from allspice berries through to rose petals, paired with name cards written in delicate calligraphy. Attendees were invited to smell, feel and sample all of the raw ingredients available, including a few some had never seen before, such as hibiscus sepals, rooibos and stevia.
After a brief lecture and ingredient sampling, we got straight to work into formulating our own blends. We took recipe cards from envelopes on the table and divided the table into a round-robin, taking turns preparing Cherry Sour and Masala Chai.
We prepared Cherry Sour from a recipe, with clear quantities and instructions for preparation. It didn’t take long for us to chopped up the sour cherries, ground the stevia with the aid of the mortar and pestle and integrated some cinnamon chips and slivers of orange peel to make the blend. We even got a chance to sample some iced Cherry Sour prepared from our cordial recipe.
However, attendees were challenged to come up with a Masala Chai blend using the ingredients on the table and guided only by their keen sense of sight, smell and taste. The purpose of the exercise was to appreciate the patience and sensitivity required to formulate an appealing blend. Other than a preallocated quantity of black tea, there were no recipes or guidelines; everybody was busy at work crushing spices, sniffing aromatics and making judgement calls about quantity and balance.
Overall, the take-home blends with custom labels and floral wreathes proved to be a big hit with everyone; we can’t wait to host the next workshop!