Tea tastings are pretty similar to wine tastings. They are also fun to do and helpful if you are trying many new teas and want to memorize the flavor profiles or compare them to other teas.
At Path of Cha we spend time tasting and getting familiar with all the teas we sell, making sure that they reach our quality standards and offer pleasant tastes to our customers. Over the years we have done many tea tasting and have notebooks filled with our notes.
Whether you are keeping track of your tea tasting or just doing it for fun, we put together a guide on how to do a tasting. With every consciously done tea tasting, you will see your palette grow and be able to recognize new and subtle notes.
How To Do A Tea Tasting
Things to Note:
- Take note of the temperature you brew your tea at. The temperatures attached to teas are only recommendations and general brewing tips, with experience you will learn which tea is at its best with which temperature. for this reason it is good to keep notes and go back to them. Read more about this here.
- Take note of the brewing vessels. The same tea might open up differently depending on the material and size of the vessel you use. Read more about this here.
- Take note of the water used. Tap water, filtered water, bottled water? The softness of the water will make a difference! Read more about this here.
- Take a look at the dry tea leaf. Our teas always say which part of the tea plant the particular tea is made from. Buds, leaves, stems, a blend. With the tea descriptions as a reference you can try and recognize which part of the plant the tea comes from on your own.
- Smell the dry tea leaves. Take note of these aromas. A good way to do this is to not think about it too much and just write down everything that comes to mind. Teas are very complex!
- Brew the tea. Take note of the tea liquid. Depending on the tea, it can vary from an almost transparent, yellowish-green to a most dark, opaque brown.
- Taste the tea. Slurp it in small sips. Let the tea sit in your mouth for a moment, touching every part of the palette. This is the time to note the taste…
- Note the mouthfeel. Is it thick, creamy, buttery? Is it thin and refreshing? Perhaps it leaves a tingling feeling? Or does it tickle the back of your throat? Does the tea leave you craving for another sip? Or is it a satisfying, thirst-quenching feeling? All this is good to note!
- Note the aftertaste. Many teas are particularly known for their aftertaste. It may be brief and potent, or very long-lasting and sweet.
- Smell the brewed tea leaves in the pot or gaiwan. Take note of these smells.
- Smell your teacup after you have finished drinking the tea. This smell may change with each brew and by the end of your ceremony (if you are doing multiple brews) it can be completely different!
- Lastly, after you are done drinking the tea (or somewhere in between if you are doing multiple brews) take note of the way the tea makes you feel. Relaxed, energized, inspired? Read more about this in our articles Let's Get Tea Drunk! and Cha Qi.
The more tea tastings you do, the more you will realize that the aroma of the dry leaf, the taste of the tea in your mouth, the aftertaste, and the smell of the brewed tea leaves and cup may all differ vastly. Take note of all of these and compare to each other.
Some Last Notes
A simple tip to enhance your tasting experience is to close your eyes while you are smelling or sipping the tea. This may improve your senses and bring out more subtle profiles.
Keeping a tea tasting journal can help with memorizing which taste profiles you are attracted to. If you are trying a Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea from 2017 vs. one from 2018 from the same tea bushes and same farmer it can help you distinguish the differences within the years. The same thing goes when you are aging pu-erh. Or it can just be a fun project for expanding your tea tasting palette!
If you are new to tea tasting and still developing your palette you can use our tea notes in the tea descriptions as reference.
Do you keep a tea tasting journal? Are there some steps you follow that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know your tea tasting experiences in the comments below!