For your first tea tasting it’s helpful to taste the four different types of single estate teas to better understand the basic varieties: white, green, oolong and black. Once you’ve had an introductory tasting, it’s fun to move on to a tasting featuring only one type of tea but that is another blog post…How to REALLY TEAS your palate…
Four types of tea should make for a comprehensive, though not overwhelming, tasting. I recommend steeping about 1/2 tsp per 1/2 cup of each tea. Steep the tea according to the directions on the package or the recommendations of the tea merchant. Tea, like wine, has a general sequence to tasting: 1) Look 2) Smell 3) Taste
TEAS your palate
Ask yourself the following questions when sampling the teas. Take tasting notes to learn your palate. These questions help you get a sense of the quality of the tea. They also help you determine whether you like and would purchase the tea.
- 1. Look: Describe the appearance of the dry and wet leaves. Are they whole or broken? Are the leaves twisted or flat, regular or uneven? Describe the color of the tea liquor (liquid). It is clear or cloudy?
- 2. Smell: Close your eyes and inhale. What does it smell like? Does the smell ignite any nostalgic memories, like rolling around in the grass or smelly socks?
- 3. Taste: Now, slurp the tea. Don’t worry about making loud noises. Spread it all over your tongue and mouth. What flavor notes do you detect? Finally, swallow the tea. Is the finish (or aftertaste) long or short, meaning do the flavors dissipate quickly or last for a while in your mouth? What flavors remain? Do you want another sip or would you rather feed it to your plants?
Like many things in life, tea tasting is very subjective. Many people love the smokey aroma and flavor of Lapsang Souchong, but not me. Although the smell brings back memories of camping in the Grand Tetons, the taste reminds me of eating the ashes of a campfire. Pu-erh, on the hand, also brings back memories of camping in the Grand Tetons while the dark liquor coats my mouth with rich, and earthy memories of gardening fresh vegetables in my back yard.
Do you have a tea worth tasting or one we should stay away from?