Saturday, August 8, 2015

It makes perfect sense!

I attended yet another awesome tea tasting event! This time, we gathered into a classroom, with conference tables and blackboards. I preferred this setting much better especially with a much smaller group. We really got to hear what each person said and watch what our host T.J. presented on the blackboard.

Yes, teacher!

The purpose of this event was to use all our senses, but more specifically taste, when consuming the various teas. It was very interesting. I had taken a sensory development class when I was enrolled in my tea courses, but as I said, a smaller group made for a better learning experience. 

The teas we enjoyed that would enable our 5 tastes included: 

  • Bitter: 2014 Assam FTGFOP1 from Mangalam Estate
  • Sour: Goishicha from Japan
  • Sweet: 2014 Bai Mu Dan, from Taimu City, China
  • Salty: Sakura Bancha & Umeboshi Bancha from Wazuka Town, Kyoto, Japan
  • Umami: 2014 Kirameki no Sencha from Wazuka, Kyoto, Japan

A little umami perhaps?

Or maybe something salty?

T.J. also brought a few food items to further explain some of the tastes, especially umami, and to educate us on the process of oxidation and how this helps give each tea its own unique characteristics. Umami is probably the most difficult taste to understand. I’ve always explained it as something that’s soupy, rich, or meaty. It would be something like soya sauce or the broth of chicken noodle soup or miso soup. Grape tomatoes were used to describe umami.

Umeboshi,  or pickled plums, were provided as an example to explain sourness. I’ve never had such a fruit, and wow was it ever a wakeup call! It was so sour that it had my face twisting upon first bite. I rather liked it especially for the aftertaste, though I would not be able to eat handfuls of it. Second time around was much better after knowing what to expect. So pretty in a bowl, I thought it would’ve been something sweet and delicate. 

They only look sweet!

Terroir also plays an important role in giving tea its unique flavour profile. The climate, soil, weather conditions, amount of rainfall and so on, encourage the tea plants in their own growth each season. You will be hard pressed to find the exact same tea every year! Also, much like for wine, there are good seasons and bad seasons for tea.

This tea event was very enjoyable for the amazing teas, the informative lessons, and the lively discussion. It’s unfortunate that with all the tea shops that keep popping-up, few or none at all, have these sort of educational lectures. Mixing a tea with fruit pieces, flowers, citrus rinds, vanilla and whatever else, does little for the tea. They're okay, but they mask the true taste of the tea. You really are missing out on something great!

A little sweetness!


  1. Oooh Goishicha is so unusual and delicious, I love it. Umeboshi Bancha sounds intense! I definitely want to try it!