Updated: Sep 10
Have you ever read a tea review and you see something like this?
“The initial sip is buttery artichoke with a bit of fruity tang at the end of the sip. The aftertaste is more vegetal butter with a melted butter lip balm feeling. As XXX steeps, it grows more artichoke in flavour, with some sips having a saltine cracker note”.
I would stare blankly and find it hard to believe.
Wine—and tea—descriptors have their place, and many times they are valid.
However, sometimes they are used simply to sell the product.
A red wine simply marketed as “sweet” is easy to understand and is directed toward someone who’s looking for a sweet red wine, where other descriptors seem so “over-the-top” that they’re unbelievable.
Some tea reviews similarly are “over the top”, and I wonder how people can find so many words to describe what they’re drinking.
Producing tea, like wine, is part art and part science. Tea masters bring together centuries of knowledge and experience to drive the science of leaf production to make exactly what they are looking for.
The art is “What flavour do you want?” and the science is “How do you get that?”
Tasting is integral to this process: you need to know what you’re looking for and then you need to be able to measure if you’ve achieved it. And if you’re marketing it, you need to be able to describe the flavour.
Humans are thought to taste only five categories—sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami (savoury)—and we have only 2000–4000 taste buds on our tongues. This accounts for only 5–25% of what we perceive as flavour.
Optimising the Tea’s Aroma:
Since your nose is instrumental to taste, you want to use a cup that enhances what you smell,
Try pouring the same tea into different shaped teacups and see how differently you experience its aroma. To do this, you want to stick your nose into the top of the cup and pay attention to what you can smell.
Explaining the Tea Flavour:
Now that you’ve tasted your tea, what words come to mind? There’s always the “aroma wheel”, but why not come up with your own words?
The flavour of any substance is composed of chemical compounds, and any given compound may be found in many different food items. Therefore, when tasting a tea and describing the exact same compound, one person may say “almond” whereas another might say “apricot”. We use the term that most reminds us of where we previously encountered that compound.
This means that no one is “wrong” or “more correct” than anyone else. We relate what we taste to our previous experience.
The fun thing about coming up with specific descriptors is that the exercise forces us to really pay attention. And to think.
Remember that there’s no need to be put-off by someone who uses a paragraph to describe a tea that you may simply think “cherry.” With experience, we all are able to distinguish more notes; some of us probably can detect more than others; remember this is all about your personal experience and enjoyment.
You too can be a haughty describer of tea, using coalescence with affectlessness, and an ostentatious manner.
Or I can say Umi Tea Sets - Dragon Well Green Tea is a gentle tasting tea which reminds you of a new Spring day and i recommend it and would buy again.
Garry thought it was a light slightly acidic fresh flavour. Refreshing and thirst quenching after hard work or exercise.
Try it and see what you think, that's the joy of tea, every tea is different to every one.