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It's Easy to Drink the Drink---Now Learn to Talk the Talk

Mary Murkin

By, Lady Mary

As with any field of specialty, there is a certain vocabulary, or set of terms, that makes it possible to discuss a topic at a deeper level.  This is especially true in the world of food, wine, beer, liqueur, coffee and tea.  There is not a particular title for someone who considers themselves very tea knowledgeable, but it is agreed that calling a person a “tea connoisseur” or a “tea enthusiast” would be an accurate title.

We will cover the most basic tea vocabulary in this installment.  When you brew a cup of tea, you are infusing (steeping) your tea bag or infuser filled with tea leaves into the hot water.  Upon doing this, you are making a delicious liquor (the liquid obtained by infusing tea leaves).  One of the first things we talk about is the bouquet (the aromatic characteristics sensed by the nose) of the tea.  As with all food and drink, tea has quite an aromatic profile (the impact smell of the main notes). 

If a tea is balanced, its aromas interact with each other smoothly and are pleasing to the nose.  A complex tea describes a bouquet that is very rich in aromas, and a tea with finesse contains subtle/precise aromas.  However, intense tea aromas have strength and duration, and heavy aromas refers to the background notes.   There are many tea terms that describe the aroma….but, at some point you have to be done smelling your tea and taste it!

Take a sip.  Hold it in your mouth; slide it to the back of your mouth and pay attention to the taste.  Some teas are astringent (with bitterness, sometimes accompanied by a sensation of dryness), and some teas are smooth (lacking that harsh acidity).   Sometimes, the over-astringency of a tea can be caused by infusing the tea leaves for too long.   If you want a robust (full-bodied) tea flavor, you might need to lengthen the infusing time----but, you must be careful not to overdo this and infuse too long, or your brew becomes bitter.  Equally so, is if you want your tea flavor to be milder, experiment by shortening your infusing time and find what is most pleasing for your tastes.

We have only scratched the surface of tea vocabulary, but you have enough lingo to make, smell, taste and enjoy a cup of tea!

Make some tea and call out the tea drinker’s motto-----------“Bottom’s up!”