Taste tea like a professional

Tea Master

I love to drink fine and good tasting tea, itl brings me as much satisfaction and happiness as tasting a good wine. Most people who are not excited about tea as they are about wine because good teas are rare. Most of the teas we drink are old, poorly stored, dry and continously loose their flavor and aroma as the days pass by since it's been picked.

However good tea is much different, which is what excites me every day in my job, I cannot wait until Friday's tasting session because I know I will be tasting exceptional teas. Even if there are Tea Masters and Blenders who are professionals in tea tasting, i've grown to realize that everybody can discover and understand all the flavors and aromas of a good tasting tea. I guarantee you with only one sip you will feel and notice the difference… So let’s try!

Throughout the years, I have been able to meet many Tea Masters, since I started Majestea and maybe even before, they've taught me that the only way to become a master in the tea industry is sip by sip, tasting hundreds and hundreds of cups of tea. To be considered a Master in their art, tea tasters or blenders taste rougly 100-150 different cups of tea every day, which help them to develop their olfactory and gustatory capacities which allows them to be able to instantly evaluate the quality of the tea and its imperfections.

I don’t know if you have ever had the opportunity to participate to a tea tasting session, but this experience can be very rigorous and codifying. I will try to paint a picture to make you enter into my world… WELCOME and remember you need to take your time for tea tasting it’s a marathon not a race.

All your senses have to be ON:

- Now Open your eyes

You need to open your eyes and check everything about the dry leaf you are going to taste. You need to check their color it can be green, black, yellow and so on, their shape flat, curly, twisted, rolled and so on and finally their size small and thin, big and thick. All this answer will make you understand and give you important keys on the constancy of the tea. 

Finally, what can you say about the infusion what hue/color do you see? Is it Milky or Crystalline? Clear like water or oily?

-Time to Open your lungs

You need to smell the aroma of tea all the time: smell the dry leaf, smell the wet leaf, smell the liquor and smell the lid of the cups. Aroma is a very important part of the tasting as important as the taste itself. You need to inhale deep, deep until your lungs are full of the aroma, you might have different aromas for the same tea between the dry and wet leaf and the liquor.

What do you smell? Is it floral, marine or fruity and woody? It can take you quite a few sessions to really smell the hundreds of different aromas there are in teas, and if you don’t smell the same thing as your neighbor it’s ok, this is a very personal thing. 

- Time to Close your mouth

Take a sip of tea don't swallow yet, let it roll in your mouth, the tea has to goall over your mouth touching the front and back of your tongue, the sides of it and your cheeks. What do you feel or taste? What does it remind you of? The broadwalks where you use to walk? Your favorite beach or the fruits you love.

To recognize the flavor of a tea that you are drinking, the nerve cells record the reaction of the tongue as a receiver as well as the smell of the tea which makes contact with the mouths mucus, texture and temperature.

Remember the more you taste fine tea, the more your tongue and cheeks will recall the different tastes and it will become easier and easier to recognize subtle differences.

 

How to make your own tea tasting session? What do you need?

A tea tasters cannot have a tea tasting session without 3 indispensables:

-       A tea set: It contains a small bowl, a cup with handle and a notched cover that will take the place of a strainer.

-       Good filtered water

-       Loose leaf Tea

What are the principal steps of a tasting session?

  1. The first step is analyzing the tea you are going to taste, you will need to take some of the dry leaf you will taste, smell them, analyze their color, their shape, their size.
  2. Warm up the cup where you are going to infuse the tea with some hot filter water (water is very important and can change the taste of a tea), remove it. Then pour one or two tablespoons of tea.
  3. Fill up the cup with hot water at the right temperature, put the cover on top and let it infuse the time require for the tea you are going to taste. For tasting you want a strong tea, stronger than when you daily drinking to feel everything. Normally the rule is 1 or 2 table spoons for 6 ounces filter water for about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover and look at how the tea leaf open, smell the lid.
  5. Strain the tea and pour it to the small bowl, analyze the humid leaf and smell them.
  6. Analyze the color of the infusion, the smell and the taste. To perfectly taste the tea, leave it in your mouse and suck without swallow.
  7. When you feel all the different taste you can swallow your tea.

During all your tasting please use the tea tasting wheel to help you with the different aroma, smell or taste of your tea and leaf.

TIPS: Do not perfume yourself without the tea tasting session it will disrupt you smell. Between each tea you will taste eat one almond to refresh your palate.

 Here are my recommendations for some teas to make your tea tasting at home:

White Tea: Silver Needle Majesty (beginner), Silver Needle Imperial (Connoisseur), Himalayan

Green Tea: Gold longjing, Gyokuro Asahina, Huang Shan Mao Feng, Tai Ping Hou Kui, Mecha

Oolong tea: Bai Hao, Jin Xuan , Dong Ding Majestey (Connaoisseur)

Black Tea:Yunnan Gold Bud, Himalayan Kanchan Gold, Himalayan 1st Flush

Dark Tea: Royal Pu'erh