I was tidying up my kitchen counter the other day and unearthed a trove of tea. This did not surprise me. My friends know my passion and tend to give me teas to try. I have also been known to …er…acquire the odd teabag at a restaurant if presented with selections in a tea chest. Since most of the found teas are new to me, I thought I’d give a couple a taste. If you’re going to try new teas, the best way to do so is to read the info on the box or bag that should tell you how hot the water should be and how long you should steep for maximum taste. If none of this info is available, follow the rule of thumb here. Many people put milk and sweetener in their tea—this won’t do for a tasting. You will want to taste the unadorned tea before you embellish it—this allows you to really taste the tea itself. After that, you can transform it to your liking.
Brew the tea. When it’s finished steeping, engage all your senses to review what you brewed. Take a deep breath. What do you smell? Take another deep breath. Is it grassy? Spicy? Floral? Do you smell anything new this time around? Now take one spoonful and sip it slowly. What do you taste? Does it taste the way it smells? Taste again. How will adding milk change this taste? Would adding honey rather than sugar make a difference? Is it stronger or weaker than the tea you normally drink? Would a shorter (or longer) brewing time make you like it better?
Now add what you like and drink the rest—if it meets your approval, that is! You can now decide whether you want to invest in more tea or give it a pass.
What new teas have you tried lately?