Popular throughout the world, black tea has one of the most complex aromas of anything we eat or drink. Black tea is formed by oxidizing the tea leaves and letting their essential oils and enzymes come alive. Black tea may have many aromas including, fruity or flowery.
Green tea by comparison has a more delicate and simple aroma like a vegetable or fresh grass scent. The mid-range of fermented teas, like oolong teas, tend to have a blossom aroma. Tea should never have a mildew, a parched or an odd smell, as these indicate that the tea is a poor quality tea.
The aroma of tea is one of its most definitive characteristics. We smell our cup of tea even before we taste it as the tea releases its essential oils. These oils are very volatile in a tea leaf. The aroma of a cup of tea is strong at first and then it fades over time.
While tea professionals can distinguish teas and their origins simply by scent, most regular tea drinkers cannot. However, one way to help yourself get better at identifying the aroma of a brew is to smell the cup of tea with your eyes closed. Simply smell the tea, and do not put your impression into words. Instead, simply associate the scent of a flower or vegetable that is already familiar to you. You may also smell chocolate, nuts, smoke, earth or wood. From these associations you can build an aroma profile of certain teas that you have smelled, and store them in your memory without verbal description. Then when you come across a tea with that same aroma you can instantly recognize it as one that you have tasted before and can identify.