A personal tea-tasting event is great event for a night out, reminiscent of wine tastings.
At our May tasting event, A New Leaf guests tasted six green teas: Jasmine Pearls, Lucky Dragon Hyson, Hojicha, Sencha Kakagawa, Formosa Gunpowder and Liquid Jade (green and white tea blend). We provided tea-tasting sheets with a history of each tea as well a chart to note ideas about the dry leaf, the infused leaf, and the liquor. We discussed the history of tea in general, and got a feel for our guests’ tea knowledge. Tea sandwiches and pastries/snacks were provided to accentuate the flavor of the particular type of teas we tasted.
There is a complete food science behind taste and tea; there are certain foods that muddle the taste of certain teas, so careful attention is used when selecting pairing foods. I had the pleasure of attending a workshop with Dr. Virginia Utermohlen and Chef Renèe Senne from Pairteas.com at the World Tea East event last fall and got a taste of the science behind pairing teas.
Our tasters used professional tea-tasting cups (pictured above). We examined the dry, loose leaves and felt and smelled them prior to steeping. Water at the proper temperature for green tea was poured onto the tea leaves and the leaves were steeped for three minutes. During this steep time, we discussed our thoughts on the dry leaf scent and appearance.
Once the agony of the leaf was complete, the tea was poured into the tasting cups. Before the lid was removed, we got an idea for the scent of the infused leaves and noted our thoughts once again. It can sometimes be very surprising to new tea tasters that the scent of the tea can change drastically once the leaf is steeped! The infused leaves were set on the lid, and examined before the tasting itself took place.
We then sipped the tea and were encouraged to move the tea over our entire palates and mouths for smooth and consistent tasting. Once again, all of our impressions of the taste of the teas were noted for later comparison.
Professional tea tasting is done without any additives such as sugar, milk or other. The purpose of the tasting is to distinguish the elements of taste and smell.
Throughout the event, we snacked on salty, savory foods and conducted our own experiment of what happened to green tea with the addition of a fat (butter cookie). The results surprised some, and easily explained away the reason why milk is typically not added to green tea.
Our range of words used to describe the dry leaf, wet leaf, and liquor ran the gamut, from, “vegetal,” “woody,” “tobacco-like,” “musty,” “grassy,” “bourbon,” “acidic,” “smooth,” “perfumey,” and many others.
Events such as these encourage discussion, and allow us to relax with friends (and make new ones!) while enjoying some high-quality teas and carefully paired foods.
Look for an upcoming oolong tasting from A New Leaf in June!