When it comes to tasting tea, we often hear frustrations about picking up flavor notes and articulating individual experiences. Perhaps you really like a tea, but feel lost when trying to express the taste to others. Or you read flavor notes on a tea label, like orchid, cherry or walnut, and you're wondering how on earth someone made those associations?
The good news is, you are not alone. And, this is a skill that can be learned and practiced over time. It's also really fun once you gain a little confidence! Just remember, taste is highly personal - varying from person to person - so there's no real right or wrong.
Below are my 5 tips for improving your tasting skills. I hope they can help you in your tasting journey!
5 Ways to Improve your Tasting Skills
1. Engage your senses
When tasting a tea, your greatest assets are your senses. Your sense of smell, sight and touch are there to help you. Professionals make the most of these by smelling the leaves, observing liquor color, and slurping to enhance taste, and you can too. If you haven't already, check out our beginner's guide that outlines these customs in 5 basic steps.
2. Learn the lingo
There are certain terms and phrases used to describe flavor notes, body and aftertaste. For example, a tea can be described as "full-bodied", "malty" and "robust". I encourage you to learn these words, and once you've built a strong vocabulary foundation, you can (and should!) add your own.
3. Broad to specific
Tasting notes can be intimidating when you're first starting out. The best way to overcome this is to think broad. Simply ask yourself if you detect any of the following from a tea: Fruity, floral, vegetal, earthy, nutty, sweet or spicy. Once you've practiced this for some time and feel comfortable, then you can dive into more specific descriptors.
4. Widen your experiences
If you're unfamiliar with certain aromas or tastes, get familiar! The world around us has a wealth of fragrances & tastes to experience, it just takes some exploration. Visit your nearest florist, candle shop or fruit store, so that you can make stronger associations the next time you taste a tea.
5. Write everything down
Finally, tasting tea is highly personal and it's helpful to note everything down each time you try a new tea. This is what I did when I first started exploring white teas on a more serious level, and it helped immensely! From writing flavor associations to noting visual details on the dry leaf, taking tasting notes can will help you store the experience in your memory and is great to have as a reference for later on.
I've created a tasting sheet for my online course, which students can print and fill in each time they taste a tea, along with many other helpful PDFs and tools. If you are interested in obtaining this tasting sheet, or gaining more expertise in the area of tasting tea, please check out my online course!
What do you struggle with most when it comes to tasting tea? Feel free to share below! ♥