The “Slurpability” Factor of Your Tea

Keemun Panda China black tea
Keemun Panda China black tea

Slurping your tea is usually considered less than civilized manners and certainly an indication of your lack of social consciousness. Some teas, though, just seem to call out to be slurped, or so my hubby tells me when I give him one of those “you’re slurping again” glances.

Funny how couples can communicate after sufficient passage of time without words. A mere glance, a light touch on the arm, even a gentle clearing of the throat can say so much more than a whole Gone-With-the-Wind-sized-novelful of words could. We just get to know each other — mannerisms, likes and dislikes, how each will respond to these things in the other, etc. — that we know how the other person will respond, or at least we usually do. However, even after a decade or two, we can still be wrong.

I’ve been changing my mind about slurping, so hubby is getting less sure about what my glance means. Maybe it’s a look of admiration as a sign of a well-done intake maneuver. Maybe I’m surreptitiously studying his technique so I can practice it later when I’m by myself. Whatever the reason, it can be good to keep my hubby guessing a bit, at least about this.

I’m finding that some teas really seem to taste better when slurped. Why? Well, for the same reason that professional tea tasters slurp — to pull some air in with the tea and to be sure the liquid is spread across a wide area of the tongue.

Teas that are best served piping hot are not only gulpers but they seem to beg to be slurped — they have a high “slurpability” factor. You just naturally find yourself drawing in a mouthful with some air. This is a “cooling slurp,” the alternative to pouring some tea from your cup into your saucer and blowing on it before practically inhaling it. These types of teas are the breakfast blends and other black teas usually consisting of Assams, Keemuns, Ceylons, Kenyans, and others.

A slurp is sort of halfway between a sip and a gulp, so you could actually apply this method to even more delicate teas that are steeped in cooler water (160‑195˚ F) and are best when you let them cool a little in the cup and then sip them. That means green and white teas, even oolongs. I would consider this a medium-to-low “slurpability” factor.

Tea etiquette says slurping is not good. But I’m now thinking that slurping isn’t just for professional tea tasters anymore. Or maybe I’m just trying to keep hubby on his toes, trying to figure out what my wordless glance means!

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3 thoughts on “The “Slurpability” Factor of Your Tea

  1. Pingback: Phoenix Tea Shop's 2898 Mini Tea Brick, LongRun 2009 Shou Pu'erh

  2. Judy Trqapp

    I used to do Tea Programs for variuous organizations. I mentioned at one of these programs that the ancient Chinese men would slurp from the saucer to cool the tea as it passed over the tongue. I knew this for a fact because I saw it done many times in a particular Chinese restaurant we went to. There was one very British woman in the club who very offended I would even mention such a thing! So slurping may not be a good thing in most circles. But belching is accepted in Tibet as a compliment to the cook, but not appreciated here either! I enjoy your articles very much. Judy

    1. A.C. Cargill

      Hi, Judy, great comment. I, too, have heard that belching is quite acceptable in some cultures. It is considered a sign that the meal was good. As for slurping, sounds like we should know the preferences of those around us before indulging in that particular way of enjoying our tea. Have a great tea day!

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