Tea Tasting

Tea Tasting

The enchanting art of tea tasting

If tea brewing is magic, then tea tasting is an attempt at demystifying the enchanting elements in the magical potion that is tea.  In simple terms, Tea tasting is the art of determining the quality of tea as the taste of tea varies based on the climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process and the type of tea plant.  Each variety of tea has a unique aroma, body and characteristic.

Tea Tasters

Tea tasters are talented at creating sensory impressions of the tea they taste. All of us have the capacity to gather sensations and identify if something is good or bad but it takes a developed palate, deep experience and a well-honed vocabulary to label tea based on their quality. Experts say that this art is subjective, informed, and spontaneous but not a sentimental activity. A tea taster is not tasting tea to enjoy it or satisfy thirst but to make subjective evaluations. To do that one has to enter a state of awareness and concentration.

Developing a palate for tea tasting

Some people are natural at tasting and knowing. The good news is that with a dollop of interest and umpteen cups of tea, you can train your palate for tea tasting. Firstly, you need to understand the nuances of your taste buds. Your palate is situated at the roof of your mouth where the oral and nasal cavities separate. The best way to develop your palate for tea is to taste two or more teas simultaneously. This way you can rule out tea that you would not prefer and identify those that are good even in a sublime way. Compare and contrast – this is the key!

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Follow the nose

The tongue can distinguish only five tastes namely sweet, sour, bitter, savory and sour. Tea, as we all know, has a complex taste which is unfathomable only by using the tongue. Hence comes into picture, our good old nose.  Did you know that a flavor is sensed 90% by the nose? The olfactory cells senses the molecules of tea gulped in and sends this information to the brain. The brain decodes something more than just taste and translates into words of description. That is where one goes from ummm that’s a good cup of tea to grading it basis the quality. Neural message from the olfactory gland and tongue, coupled with gustatory receptors helps us to decipher the profile of the tea.

Tasting one’s way to glory

When a tea taster sips a cup of tea, he is looking for some key features like look, aroma, flavor and palpable sensations in the mouth. Inhaling deep helps in gathering the initial perception before getting to the taste part. It is important to pay attention to the taste on taking the first sip. Most teas have a bit of bitterness because of tannins which are present in varying levels in each type of tea.

Below are the key description areas to consider:

  • Body of the tea – Is it light or medium or full
  • Astringency levels – Low to high
  • Pungency– Low to high
  • Texture – creamy or velvety
  • Flavor complexity
  • Length of flavor – Short to long
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Day in the life of a tea taster

The life of a tea taster is always on the go! From trekking high mountains to flying to faraway places just to find that perfect blend of tea, it is adventurous but also serious business. The job description of a tea taster is to provide subjective judgments that will aid downstream processes which involves stakeholders such as traders, blenders, retailers and more. Many a business decisions hinge on the judgment call of a tea taster. A taster is the first person to taste the first produce of the harvest and helps to fix the value and price of tea. Imagine how important a review given by an expert tea taster is for a tea house!

A tea testament

A seasoned tea taster takes notes of everything that he senses – right from first aroma to the last gulp.  The description may be something like this, “This variety of tea has grassy notes with a light body. The texture is creamy with a medium length of flavor.”

The goal of a tea taster is find the best quality tea for his company while the goal of anyone else is to find a tea befitting their palate. Tea tasting is an art as well as an enriching experience which will help you make some good memories around tea!

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Tea Tasting
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Tea Tasting
Tea tasting is the art of determining the quality of tea as the taste of tea varies based on the climatic conditions, manufacturing process & tea plant type
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Octavius Tea & Industries Ltd., founded in 1898, as a subsidiary of Octavius Steel and Co. Ltd. was a proprietary business headed by Walter Duncan. The establishment was initially formed as a potential investment from the surplus of more profitable steel industries, in erstwhile British India.

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