How You Can Expand Your Tea Palate
Tea is an awesome, multifaceted drink. Not only can regularly drinking tea can have a positive lasting impact on your wellness, with numerous studies backing the abilities teas have for boosting your immune system and fighting off inflammation, but tea is also a wonderful beverage that can fit perfectly into so many moods and situations.
A wind-down routine at the end of the day can be perfected flawlessly with a cup of tranquil tea. On a cold day, a cup of hot tea can bring warmth, or you can cool down with a cup of iced tea on a hot day. Tea can even give you a boost of energy during your midday crash.
But outside of tea’s amazing super healthy powers and daily support, tea is a seemingly simple drink. To enjoy a cup of tea, all you need to do is to place the teabag in a cup of hot water, remove it when brewed, and voila. While that seems like a fair point, tea is surprisingly more complex than drinks like beer, coffee, and wine. Yep, even wine!
The world of tea is vast and complex. What do we mean by this?
There are thousands of different types of tea, with each variety yielding a unique flavor, aroma, and even texture. In terms of the palate and tasting different types of teas, it can be no different than wine and beer tastings. Let’s recall when you first started drinking wine and beer.
Do you remember how you maybe started to notice how dark beers are rich and heavier than light beer, or how you started to develop a palate that could tell which beers are more floral, fruity, or bitter? Now you're dreaming of buying a fermentation vessel, so you can start working on brewing your own flavors of beer...
Or maybe you remember when all wines seemed to taste more or less the same when you first tried them? After a while, you probably started to expand your palate and were able to tell an older wine from a younger wine and fruity wine from a sweet wine. From there you were able to progressively figure out what sort of wine style you enjoy most, then what particular region produced a wine that you loved more than wine from other regions or countries, and etc.
You see, it's the same idea for tea. Instead of identifying the differences between pinot noir, Pinot Meunier, and chardonnay, you can start with identifying the subtle contrast of oolong tea, white tea, green tea, and black tea.
You can develop a general understanding of styles and forms of tea. And today we're going to help you do just that and learn how to appreciate tea through the palate.
We're going to guide you through developing your unique tea drinking palate and discovering how you can recognize the wide range of nuances and subtlety of tea flavors from around the world.
There are many kinds of ways to distinguish the distinctive flavor of what tea you're drinking: the type of soil the tea leaves plant was grown in, the style of tea blend, the cultivation, and way it's processed, what region it's from when the leaves were picked – and that's before you even consider the teaware or method of tea brewing.
This may sound intimidating if you are just starting with tea palate exploration. However, there is no wrong way to taste the tea and the art of tasting tea is a skill anyone can learn.
Every tea drinker has their very own unique palate built on their experiences and preferences. You don't have to have the exact same impression of any tea just because an experienced tea drinker has that opinion.
Improving your tea flavor palate doesn’t require much effort and is well worth it. The benefits of expanding your tea palate include finding and enjoying new flavors, appreciating tea, and slowing down and relishing the moment more frequently.
All you need is quality tea leaves, an open mind, a kettle, and a cup, and the effective simple process you're about to learn.
Preparing To Drink The Tea
1. Prepare Mind & Body
Calmly focus your mind on resetting to allow it to become open to all experiences, ideas, and beliefs. Permit your imagination to be able to run free and acknowledge that you'll need to be conscious that your current palate may be too closed to new flavors because the new tastes may be outside of what you're used to in your culture.
Different teas come from all around the globe and your current taste preferences are shaped by what tastes good in the culture you were raised in. So, you must focus your attention during this process, on being open-minded to representations of what is an enjoyable palate.
You may find that this kind of thinking can be difficult to achieve and might even find really good flavors strange at first, but after a shift in mindset and new experiences, eventually, your palate will naturally re-calibrate and you'll be able to be truly open to enjoying the many wonderful flavors from around the world.
2. Sit In Silence
Put down your phone, shut down all intrusive devices, and cut out as many distractions as you can. You want to make your tea drinking space, a calm, quiet, relaxing, distraction-free zone. Especially when you're first starting out tea tasting, it's easy for your sense to get put off or diverted and then shut down. Sitting in silence also helps you connect with your thoughts and teach you how truly powerful your senses are.
Keep a journal of tea tasting experiences. Keep note of what teas you enjoyed and of what tea you believe with open-mindedness you could come to love. Write down your description and analysis of every tea that you experience. The smells, tastes, colors, and textures.
4. Look At And Smell The Brewed Tea
Before you take your first sip of tea, you need to analyze the look and scent of your tea.
Look at the dry and brewed leaves. Write down in your journal how the leaves look. Are the leaves well intact, buds, or very broken? This analysis can tell you how the leaves have been processed.
Once you have a description of how the leaves look you'll be able to identify whether or not the leaves were pan-fried, steamed, twisted, rolled, pressed, etc. After a while of doing this, you'll build up an association between the brewed and dry leaf's appearance, processing, and quality.
High-quality leaves should look, I mean, like tea leaves. Crumbly herbal teas that appear to contain plenty of stalks and woody fragments, tend to be cheaper and of less quality. Also, when you steep a quality tea, the leaves should unfurl slowly.
Next, you'll wanna examine the color of the steeped tea liquid. What are the clarity, transparency, color, and body? Is the tea cloudy, clear, or darker? What is the color? Is it green, red, gold, black, yellow? This can help you identify what type of leave was used and how strong or light the tea was brewed.
Next, you'll want to inhale the aromas and smell the tea. The nose and mouth are connected through the same airway which means when you're smelling the tea you're also tasting it, but the nose is more sensitive, so it can detect more subtle refined scents.
Smelling the tea is like a tasting adventure in itself. The tea's aroma can provide you with a deeper impression of the leaf's character and qualities. Take note - is the scent you're breathing in floral, fruity, piney, earthy, grassy, sweet, roastey, spicey, woodsy, smokey, or oceanic? Don't limit your identification of each scent to only what you eat and drink - the tasting notes can smell like anything from your memory.
How To Taste The Tea?
With all that in mind, what do you do when it's time to finally drink the tea?
Sip a generous amount of tea, as long as it's not too hot. Hold the tea in your mouth and let it spread out across your tongue. Identify whether or not the tea is heavy in your mouth, glides across your tongue, is light as a cloud, or even if it electrifies your tastebuds.
Where does the tea "activate" in your mouth and what does it activate for you? Do the hints of flavor evolve the longer the tea is in your mouth, how does it change? Is the tea smooth, thin, or maybe thick and brothy or thin like flavored water? Take note of all of these questions.
Now shift your attention to the actual flavor of the tea, like associating the aroma of the tea to your memories. Identify the flavors of the tea. It can be anything; nutty, aniline, umami, juicy, snappy flavors, etc.
Write down what you're experiencing. From there you'll be able to research and pinpoint where a certain flavor is coming from. Flavors in tea can come from many factors from the teapot, the farm you bought your herbal blend from, to the added citrus rind. Eventually, after connections are made, you'll automatically be able to link where a specific taste comes from.
Once you've finished your cup of tea, breathe out slowly and pin down the tea's lingering finish. It could be cooling across your tongue, tingly, or even bitter. Remember that there are no wrong answers, whether the tea is bold, bitter, or fruity is a personal judgment.
The next step is to work on exposure. In general, mere exposure is the best method to increase acceptance of a certain taste and the more you can reference. Aim to try this method every day to help develop your palate and work on learning the language of the tea. Over time, this will build a palatal memory, and be able to discern features in a tea that you may have not noticed at first and notice subtleties you never noticed before.
Try New Flavors
You're not going to find every tea you try enjoyable, even after trying it multiple times, and that’s O.K. But don't let a fear of trying a different style of tea that is unpleasing to your palate, stop you from expanding your palate by sampling stronger, more unique, and diverse teas.
Trying new tea flavors is the simplest way to increase your understanding and help you absorb new scents and flavors into your memory.
Enjoy Expanding Your Tea Palate!
There are so many levels of enjoyment that you can be acquiring from a 'humble' cup of tea. Today, you're taking your first steps towards a higher tier of deepening your knowledge and appreciation of teas many complex flavors.
Many people in the western world can't even describe the flavors of the most recent thing they ate. This is mainly due to our modern-day society's habit of mindlessly going through our day, without paying any care to what goes into our mouths.
By undergoing this process to help improve your tea drinking experience and palate, you are learning mindfulness. This might also help you start mindfully appreciating more than tea, like the foods and drinks you consume daily.
Furthermore, let's start your tea journey one sip at a time! What tea should you start with to fast-track your tea palate learning?
When it comes to picking a tea to try there is no right or wrong answer, but we do recommend starting with a herbal blend. Trying a mix of herbs and having bolder flavors will help you start pinpointing more flavors faster because there will be more flavors to identify.
Here at Wise Ape we actually have the perfect teas for you to start with. Wise Ape Tea combines premium tea with adaptogenic herbs, crafted to create bright, flavorful organic wellness-driven tea combos.
This informative article is written, by Sophia Mckenzie. Sophia is head content creator and writer, for several premium websites, where her expertise lie in health, nutrition, and wellness. Her content is heavily focused on providing and sharing doable solutions to help people truly thrive, and live their happiest, healthiest, fulfilled life.