Looking for something fun to do on a grey winter’s day? Why not share the joys of tea by inviting friends and family to a tea tasting!
Keep the group cozy, maybe ten people max. Ask one of your guests – one who knows how to make tea – to assist you.
Choose the teas you want to share: a cross-section of different types, or a theme such as India teas. About eight teas provide enough variety without being overwhelming.
You’ll also need …
- At least two teapots. The more you have, the less washing you’ll do during the tasting. Two-cup (12- to 16-ounce) size should be large enough, as you’ll serve each guest only about an ounce of each tea.
- Provide every guest with a separate tasting cup for each tea you serve. Shot glasses from the dollar store work really well if you don’t mine washing and storing them afterwards. Disposable plastic communion cups are just the right size, and cost about $15 for a thousand cups at church supply shops. Three-ounce plastic disposable “bathroom” cups run about a dollar for a package of 50 at discount stores.
- Offering palate-cleansers between teas is a nice touch. Plain crackers, baguette slices, or small spears of celery or cucumber – anything that doesn’t interfere with the taste of the teas.
- Pens, and our Taster’s Form, downloadable in *.pdf format – filled in with basic information about each tea – for taking notes.
Have all supplies and the first two potsful of tea (under cozies) on the table when your guests arrive. Talk a little about each tea as you serve it. If guests are new to tea, explain briefly that all teas come from the same plant, and a little about the different processing techniques. And anything else you feel comfortable with.
Start with the lightest tea and progress to darker or flavoured teas. Serve in this order:
- White tea.
- Green or pouchong tea.
- Oolong tea.
- Darjeeling or Nilgiri tea.
- Other black teas.
- Smoky tea or pu-erh tea.
- Flavoured tea.
With each tea tasted, place a teaspoonful of dry leaf, and another of the spent leaf, on a small dish. Pass these around and invite everyone to touch and sniff.
Pour the first tea, then you or your helper take the pot back to the kitchen to wash it, start the kettle, and prepare the next potful. Once you get into the rhythm, you’ll have eight or nine minutes between teas. During this time, encourage your guests to compare tasting notes, partake of munchies, ask questions, and socialize. If you feel that you don’t know enough about tea to answer questions, have a few tea books available so guests can browse them and look up answers.
At the end of the tasting, ask which were your guests’ favourite teas, then steep up larger pots of two or three of them to serve with more substantial munchies. And lots more socializing.
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