Steeped in tradition and brimming with flavour, tea is a cherished beverage that transcends borders and cultures. Whether savoured solo or with delectable bites, it offers an exquisite sensory experience that delights the palate and soothes the soul.
From Darjeeling’s subtle notes to matcha, the bold vibrancy of each variety beckons its unique taste profile. Join this enchanting journey as you delve into the art of tea tasting, a captivating voyage that promises to enrich your appreciation for this timeless elixir.
The Art of Tasting
Much like wine tasting, tea tasting is an immersive experience that engages all the senses. Here are some measures to guide you through the process:
Observe: Begin by visually inspecting the leaves. Notice their colour, shape, and size. Is it a vibrant green or a subtle black? Are the leaves tightly rolled or loosely curled? The appearance of the leaves can tell you a lot.
For example, tightly rolled leaves often indicate a longer brewing time, while the colour can hint at the taste. A vibrant green may suggest a fresher, grassy flavour, while a darker colour may hint at a more robust, earthy flavour.
Smell: Next, take a moment to inhale the aroma. Does it smell floral, fruity, earthy, or perhaps smoky? The aroma often hints at the flavours that await. Teas can have a surprisingly wide range of smells, each with unique qualities.
Some may have a strong, heady aroma, while others might be subtler, requiring you to take a deep breath to appreciate their complexity fully. Remember, the smell is as important as the taste in the drinking experience.
Sip: Now, take a small sip. Let it roll around your tongue, coating your taste buds. Does it have a light or full-bodied flavour? As you sip, try to identify the different notes.
Some might start with a particular flavour profile and then change as you continue to drink. For example, a tea may begin slightly bitter and then transition into a sweet aftertaste. Others may have a hint of creaminess that lingers on the tongue.
Reflect: Lastly, reflect on the aftertaste. Did it leave a lingering sweetness or a dry astringency? How does the flavour evolve after swallowing? The aftertaste, or finish, can significantly impact your overall enjoyment.
A tea with a long, pleasant aftertaste can be savoured even after you’ve finished drinking, while some with a sharp or overly astringent finish might be less enjoyable. Reflecting on the aftertaste also allows you to appreciate the complexity further, as some flavours might only reveal themselves at this stage.
Teas and Their Unique Flavours
Teas, much like wines, have unique flavour profiles. Here are some popular types:
- Green tea is known for its fresh and grassy flavour. This type can range from sweet and floral to savoury and astringent.
- Black tea is typically robust and full-bodied. It can have malty, fruity, or even smoky notes.
- Oolong teas offer a broad spectrum of flavours. They can be floral and creamy or fruity and sweet.
- White tea is delicate and subtly sweet, often carrying floral, fruity, and honey-like notes.
- Products like matcha are known for their vibrant colour and creamy, umami-rich flavour.
Tea tasting and pairing is a journey of discovery that beckons with the promise of new flavours and sensory delights. Whether you are a connoisseur or a curious novice, this guide serves as your compass, navigating you through the captivating world of tea.
Author : Jamie Jacobe