It’s hard for common tea drinkers or the newcomers to distinguish between flavors of tea. Here, I’m going to tell you the types of tea flavors and how do we appreciate flavors of tea.
Appreciation of flavor is a sensory evaluation of tea that identifies the aroma of tea which you’re going to get through your nose while taking the first sip and the taste you feel in your mouth along with other appreciable sensations.
Before going to learn how to appreciate tea flavors, let’s know some factors on which one’s determining power of flavor depends.
If you are going to identify flavors of tea or any other thing, you must know how human senses work. It is an interrelated exercise of the nose, the tongue, and the brain. Taste and smell never exist in isolation. The flavor is determined when smell and taste are together.
Our tongue has some receptors that transmit the messages to the brain, and in return, we can identify the taste. Normally the tongue is capable of identifying 5 basic tastes – sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami.
You’ll feel the aroma even before you sip your cup of tea. You’ll smell the aroma of your tea in the air near the surface of the tea. As you bring your nose nearer to the surface of your tea, inhale and exhale through your nose, aromas linger in your nasal passages, preparing your senses to identify the taste inside your mouth.
The taste buds of our tongue contain some receptors that bring messages to the brain. When we take the first sip of tea, salvia is secreted and changed and moderated. Slurp rapidly to spread the tea all over the receptors on the tongue to determine the taste of tea.
The flavor is a combination of smell and taste. And the taste is so closely related to smell that 75% of the taste is determined by the smell that we are going to have while taking the first sip of our favorite cup of tea.
Eruptive oil contents in tea evaporate and rise into our nasal passages as we sip the tea, creating flavors that can be detected only when the senses of smell and taste work together.
The texture depends on the astringency, body, and smoothness of the tea, that will be determined when it comes into contact with your teeth and the mucous membranes lining the inside of your mouth, often referred to as ‘mouthfeel’. A low degree of astringency means ‘soft mouthfeel’ and a high degree of astringency is referred to as ‘fuzzy mouthfeel’.
Astringency, an important characteristic of tea, is created when taste and texture come together. The chemical reaction of the tea with salvia creates one drying and puckering feeling in the mouth which results in astringency feeling in the mouth.
Cultural experiences and food habits also create a great impact on our perceptions of flavors that we are gotta get from tea. The style of tea brewing, cupping, design of the cups, style of presentation, and ultimately the environment and atmosphere where the tasting of the tea is going to happen are the factors that ultimately enhance our enjoyment and our appreciation of tea flavors.
Do you know that temperature plays an important role in the sensory perception of tea? When it’s hot, aromas evaporate more quickly and some layers of flavor disappear when it cools. As per various research studies, our tongue detects more astringency when the tea is hot.
Types Of Tea Flavors
There are 12 types of tea flavor groups under which we evaluate tea using taste receptors in the mouth with the nose open. Each flavor group is further dissected into sub flavors that allow you to analyze facets of the flavors and characteristics of your tea.
|Flavor Group||Sub Flavors|
|12||Fresh And Dried Fruit||Citrus||Orange|
As shown in the chart above, try to narrow down the flavor of your tea. For example, while brewing, the Lapsang souchong black tea will immediately evoke woodsy and fiery flavors i.e. distinctive flavor of smoky pine.
The more you taste, the easier it is to identify flavors of tea.
Nuts – Roasted and sweet flavors of tea are defined by nuts and they are the best descriptors for the astringency of tea’s tannins.
Apples – It’s a characteristic flavor of autumnal Darjeeling tea, that indicates a finished oxidizing Darjeeling tea.
Honey – Sweet honey flavor is the main characteristic of lightly oxidized Taiwan Oolong tea.
Chocolate – Ripe Puerh teas from Yunnan provide a distinctive flavor of raw chocolate.
Rose – Roasted Oolong tea sometimes may have the floral scent of rose.
Cloves – Some Darjeeling and ripe Puerh may have a flavor hint of clove.
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