Tea Tasting Toolkit: Everything You Need to Properly Taste Tea
Much like wine tasting, tea tasting is the process in which a trained taster determines the quality of a particular tea. Due to certain climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process, and different variations of the Camellia sinensis plant (tea), the final product may have vastly differing flavors and appearance. These differences can be tasted to ascertain the quality or to determine one's own preference. Just as the old adage states, "A craftsman is only as good as his tools," so is true of the tea taster.
Tea Tasting Cup Set
A proper tea tasting cup set is akin to using the correct style of glass when tasting wine or fine spirits. The size, lid and material make tea tasting easier and more uniform. With thousands of possible varities of tea, you will want your tasting utensils to be standard. We sell porcelain tea tasting sets for $22.
Teaspoon, Scale and Timer
After a few mistakes and some terribly bitter tea only fit for consumption by the kitchen drain, every tea drinker learns that over-steeped tea is gross. Each tea has a recommended steeping time for a particular measurement of tea and water for an "ideal" cuppa (tea jargon for cup of tea.) Micro-adjustments can be tested once one knows his/her own palate. Use your smartphone or watch as a timer. Digital Scale is around $9
Thermometer / Electric Kettle
Just as each tea has a recommended steeping time, teas also have a preferred steeping temperature. Tea like baking is chemistry. Certain chemical reactions happen when compounds in tea react to heated water. The taste, aroma and health benefits of tea are all born in this chemical process. A tea thermometer costs between $5 and $15. An electric kettle can cost between $25 and $65.
Journal / Notebook
Unless you have Rainman like abilities, there's a good chance you will need to reference your notes about the dozens, hundreds or maybe thousands of teas you've seen, smelled and tasted over your tea journey. It's a good idea to keep a journal about your experience with each tea and create a scoring criteria. Nothing is worse then yearning for something you've tasted and being unable to remember its name or from where to get it. It will save your time, money and sanity. You can buy one specifically for tea for $5. Have anything to add? Leave a comment.
Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence ― Okakura Kakuzō, The Book of Tea