Can you pair a taste description with the tea it’s referring to? Take this quiz and find out. But first a bit about tea taste descriptions.
Describing the taste of a tea can be like trying to describe color to someone who has never seen. Or music to someone who has never heard. Plus there is a major subjective component to taste: your personal experience with other flavors. Sensory experiences tend to build on each other. We try to relate a new taste to something we’ve tasted before. Thus, so many things are said to taste like chicken. But if you’ve never tasted chicken, then this description of the flavor of that item doesn’t help you much. The same goes for saying that a tea has a green bean like flavor or an asparagus character; if you’ve never experienced those flavors, you won’t have a clue what these mean.
For this quiz, though, we took descriptions from various tea vendors’ sites and want you to pair them up with the proper tea. Some of these you will know by reputation. Others may leave you wondering what in the world the vendor is talking about (partly because the description is an overly literal translation from another language). Have fun and see how well you do.
- “a malty full-bodied character with bright flavoury notes and hints of cask oakiness”
- “the flavor is nutty and full, but still young enough to have plenty of ‘cha qi.’”
- “a unique, toasty rice flavor tending sweet”
- “an initial astringent, vegetal taste which then gives way to a lingering sweetness”
- “a very sweet, appetizing honey-life fragrance, taste and finishing. The sweet aftertaste will linger on in your mouth after a few sips.”
- “a warmed sugar sweetness and a subtle hint of white grapes”
- “sweet, vanilla like and floral. Some fruity character can be noticed along with almondy character. It has very little astringency and leaves the tip of the tongue with a sweet aftertaste. The after taste lingers and even after your tea has cooled, there still are beautiful flowery and fruity notes.”
- “a rich and refreshing flavor” (a rather non-descriptive description)
- “a distinctive nutty/oak taste”
- “a robust, nutty and pecan flavor, with a sweet finish”
A – 2002 Hai Lang Hao “Mengku Wild Arbor” cake
B – PG Tips
C – Tie Guan Yin
D – Scottish Breakfast Tea
E – Denong Wild Ripe Pu-erh (2009 or 2010 vintage)
F – Superior Gunpowder
G – Matcha
H – Genmaicha Japanese Green Tea
I – Puttabong Moondrops First Flush Darjeeling
J – Silver Needle from one of the larger tea vendors
|1 = D||2 = A||3 = H||4 = G||5 = C|
|6 = J||7 = I||8 = B||9 = F||10 = E|
How Many Did You Get Right?
Don’t be at all surprised or feel bad if you didn’t get many of these. Describing taste is very tricky and tea reviewers are all different. Some tastes are commonly ascribed to certain teas, but you may not perceive them. Worse yet, you may get an unpleasant experience from a tea because of what you were led to expect by the taste description on the vendor’s site. Try the tea again without any preconceptions and see how it goes. Also, be aware that some teas steep up stronger than you would expect – one example is Matcha which can overwhelm those new to it or not used to a higher grade version.
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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