25 Notes on How To Taste Real Tea

1. Tea character: the sensation in your mouth. This includes different types of fragrance, bitterness and astringency. The tea character can differ in “robust or fine” in comparison.

2. Tea liquid quality: the fullness of the tea liquid in your mouth. This includes smoothness, sweetness, aftertaste, depth and endurance. The tea liquid quality is usually described as “thick”, “thin”, “heavy” or “light”.

3. Fragrance: the way fresh leaves are traditionally processed. This can be categorized into “high tone”, “middle tone” and “deep tone”.

4. Bitterness and astringency: bitterness is a flavour, whilst astringency is a feeling. Bitterness is caused by the tannins in the leaves, while astringency is a complex reaction from the oral tissues.

5. Returning sweet aftertaste: the transformation from bitterness into sweetness after drinking.

6. Stream of saliva: the tea generates saliva encompassing the whole interior of the mouth. Bubbles surface from both cheeks and under the tongue. The highest quality tea will leave a long lasting saliva stream in the mouth.

7. Astringency: the feeling of tightness in the mouth and on the surface of the tongue after drinking.

8. Lasting aroma and character of the sweetness: a fine balance between fruity or dry sweetness.

9. Tea liquid flow: the different mouth feeling of the tea soup. This can be described as smooth, transforming, vibrant, earthy, thick, thin, sharp and more.

10. Layering: complexity and depth in taste notes. This is the way the fragrance and flavour of the soup transforms in the mouth.

11. Throat feel: the lasting feeling of the tea soup in the throat as sweet, moist or dry.

12. Body: the fullness that the rich substances in the tea soup bring to your mouth.

13. Smoky notes: also called firing notes – comes from the roasting process. These notes develop from firing. Whilst in storage, smoked tea can activate and further develop other flavours and fragrances lying in the tea.

14. Fruitiness: the freshness from the soup can be reminiscent of the taste of fresh berries.

15. Sourness: caused by excessive water in the leaves during processing between rolling and drying.

16. Water taste: seperation of tea and water taste. This can be caused by an improper way of brewing or storing.

17. Green taste: caused by not enough temperature or time for fixing (de-enzyming processes). In the worse case there would be a “green fishy taste”.

18. Throat locking: dryness and itchiness in the throat after drinking, uncomfortable tight feeling after swallowing, mostly caused by unwanted chemicals in the water or leaves.

19. Tea Qi: tea energy.

20. Aging characteristics : these are found in tea that have undergone years of storage. They are characteristics developed at varying stages of aging tea.

21. Hidden fragrance: a subtle fragrance hidden in the soup. It may only be discovered by your heart – paying attention the details.

22. Separation of tea and water taste: occurs when the aftertaste in your mouth is not the taste of tea leaves but rather it is the water.

23. Mouth melting experience: the highest state of smoothness is the soup sliding down the throat without having to swallow.

24. Clear breeze: when aged by natural storage, the soup feels like a clear breeze in your the mouth with a pleasant energy vibration sensation on the teeth.

25. Herbal flavour: a common characteristic of teas which aged about one hundred years.

Text by: Lin, Bianca and Ying.


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