Just like training to become a Wine Sommelier, training to become a Tea Master or Tea Sommelier is intense. You must be ready to evaluate many teas from around the world. In one of my Tea Master courses I had to evaluate over 60 teas, some without any information about them at all. It was quite the challenge to determine where the tea came from, how it was processed and why it had the flavor profile it had.
Whether you want to become a Tea Master, or just gain more knowledge about tea, learning the proper methods for tasting and evaluating tea can be an interesting experience.
How do you begin?
The first step is to observe the tea leaves themselves. What color are they? Are they twisted or smaller pieces? Are they brittle or flexible?
Next, what is the aroma of the dried leaves? Can you determine any particular aromas? Fresh grass, smokey or floral? All of these and many more play a part in the aroma and flavor of tea.
Where the tea grows contributes to the final flavors too. For example, a tea from Japan will often have a seaweedy aroma and after taste. Why? Because Japan is an island and tea plants absorb the aromas in the air and soil around them.
Then comes steeping the tea leaves properly and, yes, there are specific ways to do this for the perfect result. Different teas should be steeped in different temperatures of water and for different lengths of time. Once they are steeped, observe the tea liquor. What color is it? Is it bright, does it sparkle, or is it dull with bits floating in it?
Taste the tea. This is my favorite part to share. Leave your manners behind because YOU MUST SLURP the tea. Yes, really, and make lots of noise. This sends it all around your mouth and that is important. You have taste buds that pick up different flavors on different areas of your tongue. You may well be surprised that the initial flavors are quite different than when it slides down the back of your tongue or the after taste a few seconds later.
Try a new tea in this way and discover many nuances that you never noticed before. I would love for your to share your discoveries and questions with me below.
Cheers to a Cuppa!
P.S. Watch my newsletter and website for new ecourse announcements coming soon! If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter do it today so you will be first to learn of new offerings.