By A.C. Cargill
Tea scents wafting my way are one of life’s great pleasures, especially since I have a very sensitive nose. Very. No, it’s not grossly oversized like Rostand’s fictional character, Cyrano de Bergerac, or even as large as one-time Vaudevillian and comic actor Jimmy Durante or singer/actor Barbra Streisand. Quite the contrary. It’s just a little, upturned, pointy thing (almost pixie-ish) that, despite it’s shape, does the job it’s designed for: breathing. And with each intake of air come various scents, some good, some bad.
Tea scents are definitely good.
Among the bad scents is anything “perfumy” — at least as far as my nose is concerned. This includes perfumed soaps, shampoos, hand lotions, candles, air fresheners and, of course, perfumes. One whiff and my head is set to pounding. A few more whiffs and a migraine starts. This sensitivity is inherited from my mother, who had an intolerance to strong, flowery fragrances, and not unique to me. I know lots of people with “sensitive sniffers.” One good thing for us is the cost savings since we don’t spend hundreds on tiny bottles of designer perfumes.
Such sensitivity is problematic for us, though, in certain locations. Shopping malls are one example where shops selling scented candles and perfumed lotions seem to have sprouted by the dozens. It’s even more of an issue in the office, however. We can avoid the candle and lotion shops. We can’t always avoid a heavily scented co-worker (male or female). One in particular I remember well. She always came to work in a proverbial cloud of perfume (and cubicle walls aren’t very effective at fending off these fragrances). (I was always told in my younger days that wearing perfume to the office was inappropriate. I guess that message is lost these days.) As she walked along the aisles between the cubicles, the waves parted (people got out of her way and held their noses). She seemed oblivious to all of this.
On the plus side for me and other tea drinkers, a hyper-accurate smeller can pick up all of the subtle scent notes in teas, so long as there’s no heavy perfume smell around to overshadow it. These scent notes are described by terms such as “Smoky,” “Fruity,” etc. Some scents in tea occur as part of the withering and fermenting process. Others, such as vanilla and oil of bergamot (a type of orange) in Earl Grey tea, are added by tea processors shortly before the tea is packed. However they originate, these tea scents wafting our way enhance the enjoyment of a good cup of tea. They also make having such a “sensitive sniffer” an asset instead of a problem – as long as you stay away from perfumes and perfume wearers, that is.
In Part II, I’ll explore these and other tea scents wafting my way. Meanwhile, it’s time for a cup of hearty, smoky Ceylon tea. The scent and the taste blend together in true harmony. Enjoy!
Check out A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill, for more on living the tea life!