The Blend

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Blog

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How to Taste Tea Like a Tea Master

07.14.20By
CBTL Blog

Our tea master David DeCandia is the official Tea Ambassador of Sri Lanka. He travels to the far reaches of the globe to source the most complex and satisfying tea varieties he can find, and along the way he has perfected the art of how to taste tea.

 

Of course, the first step to delectable and delicate tea taste is to brew your tea correctly. Follow our tea brewing guide to make a full-bodied and balanced cup of tea from the comfort of your kitchen.

Now you’ve poured your tea and steeped it for the right amount of time, are you ready to learn to properly experience the taste of your tea? We thought so!

 

How to Taste Tea

 

  • Smell — While you brew your tea take the time to smell the dried tea leaves and familiarize yourself with the scents and aromas of the tea. Shake your cannister a bit and then open it up, closing your eyes as you inhale the scent of the dried leaves. Start naming aromas you detect, like rose or chocolate or honey.
     

  • Pour — Fill your cup with a few ounces of hot tea. Swirl the cup around and go for a second round of smelling. The freshly-poured tea should give off different aromas compared to the dry leaves, creating a more complex understanding of the tea taste.
     

  • Slurp — If you prefer to daintily take a sip of your tea that’s understandable: after all, that’s how the British conduct tea time. But as tea experts will tell you, slurping your tea will gently aerate the tea to cool it down, and slurping helps spread the tea around the entire surface of your tongue. You’ll want as many taste buds to interact with the tea to taste the sweet, sour, salty, and bitter notes.
     

  • Hold — Don’t swallow just yet. The flavors you immediately taste when you slurp your tea are called “head notes,” but the second wave of tastes (called “body notes”) arrive as you hold the tea in your mouth. Once you do swallow you will detect the lingering “tail notes.”
     

  • Exhale — As you hold the tea in your mouth breathe out through your nose. This process sends aromatic steam through your nasal passages and engage your olfactory gland, processing many more subtle flavors and deepening your appreciation of the tea.
     

  • Savor — Swallow your tea. Now, try to crystallize the flavors you detected. Cardamom? Vanilla? Cherry? Take your time and slowly repeat the process, focusing on the ritual and fully absorbing yourself in the process of tasting tea like our hero, David DeCandia.

 

Why Is My Tea Bitter?

 

Bitter tea is most often the result of steeping your tea too long. If you prepare a cup of loose leaf tea and find that the flavor is too subtle or weak for your sensibilities, you may be tempted to let the tea bag steep longer. But that’s a mistake! To boost the taste of your tea add half a teaspoon of tea leaves into your teapot or tea bag. Always steep for the recommended amount of time on the packaging.

 

How Do You Make Tea Taste Better?

 

We cover all the basics on brewing your tea for better taste in our tea brewing guide. Here are the basic rules to follow:

 

  • Use the appropriate amount of tea (usually one heaping teaspoon) if brewing loose leaf tea. Check the tea packaging.
     

  • Steep your tea for the correct amount of time, which will also be indicated on the packaging.
     

  • Heat your water to the correct temperature. This may shock you, but the correct temperature will be indicated on the packaging. Black teas usually require boiling water, while oolongs and green teas may be between 170 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
     

  • Use filtered water to maximize the flavor of your tea.
     

  • Add a splash of honey to sweeten your tea, and use a dash of mint or lemon juice for subtler teas.

 

Follow these instructions to brew your tea and taste your tea using our guide above. And stop by The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf® to try out our tea tasting method on any of our freshly brewed batches of tea.