types of tea flavors

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.

Senses

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.

The Tongue

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.

Smell

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.

Taste

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.

types of tea flavors

Flavor

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.

Texture

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

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.

The Experience

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.

tea flavors list

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  
1 Vegetal Grass  
Alfalfa  
Sweet Green  
Bok Choy  
Legumes  
Cooked Peas  
Hay  
Corn  
Artichoke  
Asparagus  
Thyme  
Parsley  
Mint  
2 Floral Osmanthus  
Chrysanthemum  
Orchid  
Rose  
Geranium  
Honeysuckle  
Elderflower  
Violet  
Lilac  
3 Earthy Leather  
Damp Forest  
Moss  
Mushroom  
Barnyard  
Wet Soil  
Wetlands  
4 Nutty Chestnut  
Hazelnut  
Almond  
Pine Nuts  
Walnuts  
Pumpkin Seed  
Coconut  
5 Sweet Vanila  
Butterscotch  
Burnt Sugar  
Molasses  
Honey  
Dark Chocolate  
Caramel  
6 Marine Seawood  
Ocean Air  
Fish  
Beach  
7 Wood Oak  
Cedar  
Pine  
Bark  
Sap  
Camphor  
Resin  
8 Spice Cinnamon  
Nutmeg  
Tobacco  
Clove  
9 Dairy Custard  
Cream  
Milk  
Butter  
10 Mineral Iron  
Chalk  
Stone  
11 Fire Barbeque  
Wet Charcoal  
Smoke  
Tar  
Ash  
12 Fresh And Dried Fruit Citrus Orange
Lemon
Kumquat
Grapefruit
Bergamot
Stone Fruit Plum
Black Cherry
Apricot
Peach
Tree Fruit Apples
Pears
Berries Strawberry
Raspberry
Blackberry
Blueberry
Grapes Grapeskin
Fresh Grapes
Tropical Fruits Banana
Kiwi
Pineapple
Lychee
Melon Honeydew
Cantaloupe
Watermelon
Dried Fruit Raisins
Blackcurrant
Prunes

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.

appreciation of flavor

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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