This is the first of a new series called In Profile, during which we will take an in-depth look at some of Queen’s Pantry’s most specialized teas. To do this, my husband Nate and I hosted a few friends for a tea tasting. We had a blast! From the conversations to expanding our palettes, the whole afternoon was enjoyable.
But what exactly is a tea tasting? Let’s do a quick tea tasting introduction, shall we? Tea tasting is pretty simple at it’s core, but it is quite the experience. Not only is it a way to experience tea on a deeper level, but it can also be relaxing and calming.
When you participate in a tasting, you are looking for the underlying notes and flavors of each tea. Teas often have similarities, but they almost always have a specific flavor, or flavors that make each tea unique. When you are at a tasting, you are trying to notice each flavor.
The flavors that you taste, that stand out to you will be based off of what your palette is already familiar with, so tea tasting is intensely personal. A tea that has notes of graham crackers to one person may taste more like a malt to another. It all depends on what you already know, which leads to there not being a wrong answer!
When you go to experience tea this way, there are a few steps.
Step One: Look at (or observe) and smell the dry leaves.
Step Two: Brew your tea. Observe the color of the brewed tea.
Step Three: Look at, smell, and observe the wet leaves – there can be a huge difference between the wet and dry leaves!
Step Four: Taste your tea. Sip it, taste it slowly, enjoy the tea at a deeper level than you normally do.
First up in our tea tasting line up is Tippy Yunnan. This bold, black tea comes from the southwest region of China, called Yunnan. The region of Yunnan is where legend says tea was discovered.
The following are the thoughts from our tea tasting. Each person was given a sheet to fill out with their thoughts, but not every tea got thoughts during each of the four steps. I had each person write down the first few thoughts that came to mind, so most of the comments are like bullet points. I am sharing their thoughts with you as accurately as I can.
Step One: Dry Aroma
Nate K.- Alfalpha
Jenna – Sweet berries
Nate – Forest
Jim – Reminds me of an herb, like parsley
Denise – Earthy
Step Two: Color
Nate K. – Dark, clouded, burnt orange
Jenna – Rich caramel
Nate – The dry leaves: brown/ash.
The wet leaves: brown/amber.
The brewed tea: yellow brown
Jim – Brewed caramel
Denise – The dry leaves: multicolored, brown and gold.
The brewed tea: caramel
Step Three: Aroma of Wet Leaves and the Liquid Tea
Nate K. – Pungent, sour
Nate – The wet leaves: stable aroma.
The brewed tea: it’s very smokey – like a bonfire.
Jim – Stable, alfalfa
Step Four: Flavor
Nate K. – Full, soft
Jenna – Nutty, oak, woodsy
Nate – Very strong flavors that last, some hay flavors, a little smoke
Jim – Most consistent flavor to smell, tobacco, dry finish
Denise – Smokey
So what do you think? Would you ever attend a tea tasting?