Sensing Tea

There are any number of reasons why people drink tea. For some it might be the burst of energy they get from the caffeine. For others it’s the calming effect (yes, paradoxically, tea can pep us up and relax us) that the theanine in tea provides. In the dead of winter we might turn to a robust cup of black tea, bolstered with milk and sweeteners, to help get our blood going. In summer, of course, iced tea is a great way to cool off.

Japanese Gyokuro

For increasing numbers of serious fans of premium and exotic varieties of tea, however, the best reason to drink tea is the taste. A truly flavorful cup of tea – be it a Japanese Gyokuro (green) or a Chinese Keemun (black) or any one of a host of other varieties – is a thing to be coveted.

To truly experience a fine tea to the fullest – as any experienced tea taster will surely tell you – you should bring all of your senses into play. Okay, maybe not quite all of them – unless someone has figured out how to incorporate the sound of tea into the experience.

But the other three senses should be utilized to the fullest when drinking tea. Taste and smell are closely intertwined already, of course, but in addition to utilizing this latter sense when drinking tea, the nose can also be used to good effect on the dried tea leaves prior to steeping them and to the steeped liquid before drinking it.

Sight is perhaps more important for aesthetic reasons than any other. This is why I personally prefer not to drink tea at all unless I’m using a clear glass vessel. The visual interplay of light shining through the steeped liquid is an important part of the experience and anyone wanting to kick this up a notch can take advantage of the various blooming and flowering teas that serve as both entertainment and beverage.

Last up is touch. Again, this might not seem as important as taste or smell, until we consider that the tongue and mouth are as capable of experiencing this sense as the hands and fingers. As anyone who’s ever sampled an overly astringent (makes you pucker) tea can tell you, the mouth feel of tea is very important.

Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

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