I’m new to tea tasting and don’t know where to start.
No problem. It’s not as hard as it sounds and is a lot of fun. Welcome.
Head HERE <LINK> for a step-by-step of how it’s done and some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your leaves.
I’ve heard of wine-tasting before, but not tea-tasting - what’s the difference?
Well, the temperature of the drink - but just like with wine, the growing conditions, plant variation and process used vastly affects the way it looks and tastes. So tea from Kenya will taste very different to tea from India, just as tea from Darjeeling will taste very different to tea from Assam.
Lots of tea companies pack their teabags full of dusty, chopped up leaves. This gives a cup of tea that’s often the same every time, but largely bitter, sharp, and lacking depth. A crying shame, if you ask us.
Rolled whole leaves are packed full of taste and flavour that can be totally different depending on the region, the conditions they’re grown in, and the brewing process. They have so many layers of taste. Tea tasting is a great way to explore what you can get from your leaves, understand what you can taste and what you like the taste of. And similarly, what you don’t like the taste of. This defogs the whole thing and makes it much easier to choose teas you’re likely to love in the future.
How do I get the right sensation when tasting?
This is what we’d call schlurping. A very serious tasting term. It’s a way of getting tea and oxygen into your mouth together and coating all your tastebuds to make sure you can get every taste possible.
Get yourself a big spoonful of tea and make a big noise whilst you cover the whole of the inside of your mouth with tea. Think of the way you’d drink soup that’s *just* too hot. See what you can taste. You’re looking to pick out the flavour type and the sensation. Is it floral or woody? Bitter or smooth?
I don’t taste the same notes as it says on the sheet - what am I doing wrong?
If you’ve followed the instructions, then absolutely nothing! Tea is extremely personal. Depending on what your palette is accustomed to, you’ll taste different things to the next person. It can also be affected by how sensitive your tongue is too. And smell and memory can be connected, so don’t be surprised if a smell reminds you of something from yesteryear.
We’ve listed the most likely tasting notes on the sheet, as we think these are what most people will pick out - but if you get something else, definitely let us know. It’s not wrong, it’s always interesting and there’s a good chance another taster will have noticed a similar thing.
That’s the beauty of tasting - we can all try Darjeeling and notice its richly fruity aroma, but picking out which fruit can take some debate. After this, deciding whether or not we like that aroma can be equally as interesting, as it’s down to personal taste. You can get some strong, contrasting opinions during this stage.
Should I taste it with milk?
Rolled whole leaves are less bitter and hold more taste than dusty, chopped up tea leaves. So whilst it’s a common assumption that milk is a necessity when it comes to tea, it’s often not the case with whole leaf tea. It’s good practise to give tea a taste on its own to understand it better, then you can customise it and make notes after. Milk will affect taste in the same way that ice cubes affect a glass of wine.
What happens if I don’t stick to the brewing instructions?
We’ve done a lot of tasting and testing with these blends, so the brewing instructions for each tea are tailored to what we think complements that blend of ingredients and flavours. We think it’s a good place to start when tasting. Of course, tea is personal - so once you’ve tried it this way, feel free to make tweaks to suit your palette. And if you think you prefer it brewed for less or more time, let us know.
If you need a hand with conducting your own at-home tea tasting and become a *professional* tea drinking aficionado, head to this blog <LINK>.
Not sure what The Tasting Club is? More info here <LINK>.
Buy the blends here.