Let's Get Nerdy.
I'm always trying to learn more about tea so I'm not someone who says they LOVE tea yet actually knows nothing about it.
I wrote in a previous post how my darling mother surprised me with a tea book and I dove in immediately, enjoying all the history and tea cultivation lessons. I skipped ahead in the book to find a section on tea tasting! Sure, whenever I try a new tea on this blog I try to be as descriptive as possible so you the reader can feel like you're tasting with me.
I'm a self proclaimed tea taster at best but after reading the section on tea tasting I realized that my first instincts of what to do when tasting are on the mark. First of all I would like to give credit to the beautiful, aromatic Persian tea blends that I grew up drinking because that is what led me to do what I do. Probably one of the most distinctive things about the Persian tea blends (and all tea) is the smell. As you know our senses are intertwined and a smell can set off a memory of a taste which is why sometimes the smell of a dish can turn you off to tasting it.
Your sense are your best friend when it comes to Tea Tasting. You won't really get the full taste if you just brew it and drink it.
Take some time to admire the dry leaves, look at the intricacies like the shape and size. The color of the brewed tea is also important as that will indicate it's strength.
Smell the leaves dry so that you're preparing your palette to drink the tea. I've experienced that the smell of the dry leaves can turn you off or on to the tea. Even if the tea has a smell you're not fond of, go past your comfort zone and give it a try.
The tea book informed me of an interesting, yet obvious fact. Tea temperature matters. For example, a high temperature can mask a bitter flavor of a tea and extenuate the sweetness. Another tip that was new to me was to take a sip of tea and breath out through your nostrils, this will make the taste more pronounced to your taste buds.
Now this is the part that might turn some of you off. No one wants to look like a tea swirling snob but it is beneficial to be able to describe the taste. Many tastes can bring up a memory but how you define it is much different. One way to define it is by olfactory characteristics such as floral, fruity, woody etc. You can also use words like rough, complex and bold to describe it (More here). I know I'm going to start using these words so that my readers can better understand me. Here are some tips from the book!
Get your tasting on!