What should this taste like? (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

What should this taste like? (Photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

We all like things that are familiar, comfortable, and known. But many of us also like something new. The thrill of trying a new tea is one such experience. It can be like opening that first gift on Christmas morning or taking that first ride in your new car…or better yet, spending the first night in you new home. And part of that feeling is, believe it or not, a touch of fear… a whisper… a light tingle. Of course, with tea you don’t have to worry about something horrid awaiting you under all that pretty wrapping paper and bows or crashing that car or having a burglar break in while you sleep. No, this is the mild apprehension of actually not liking the tea. Horrors!

The Missteep

No, that’s not a typo. It’s when you steep the tea in a manner that is guaranteed to make you grimace or shrug, depending on whether the result is bitter or bland. Using too hot of water to steep a green tea, for example, will give you something quite bitter. On the other hand, white teas need to steep in water a little hotter and for a longer time to bring out enough of their flavors or you end up with basically hot water. Steeping instructions from the vendor can help here for your first experience with that new tea. Read and follow them carefully. You can make adjustments later on to suit you.

The Misconception

Vendor descriptions are written by people who, on one hand, are pretty well trained in detecting the nuances in the flavors of the steeped tea and, on the other hand, by people trying to make the tea sound good so you will buy it. The latter kind are the troublemakers, usually, but both can be a problem, building up a misconception of what to expect, even after steeping the tea just right. Take these descriptions with a grain of salt, as the saying goes. That is, don’t consider them to be how you will experience the taste of that tea. Misconceptions are a bummer (one time I ate what I thought was potatoes but what was in reality boiled turnips – big letdown!).

When Everything Goes Just Right

Here’s the payoff. The tea is steeped, you’ve sipped and enjoyed. Now it’s time to sit back and relax with a nice cupful of this new taste sensation that has taken a first possible step to becoming one of your new favorites. This is the true thrill… what makes that risk of trying anything new worthwhile. Enjoy it to the fullest!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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