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How to taste tea like a tea Sommelier

How to taste tea like a tea Sommelier

You must have heard about wine sommeliers, but tea, being as exotic and authentic as wine, too, has its own sommeliers. Just like a wine sommelier, a tea sommelier does pretty much the same job, except he does it with tea. Tea tasting, learning about different types of tea, and having the best and most unexpected tea experiences are some of his salient activities. Sounds interesting, right? Do you want to taste tea like a tea sommelier too? Get ready, as we have some basic principles and characteristics for you which will help you become aesthete tea lovers and tasters!


Delineating the physical appearance of tea.
According to this you have to look at your tea closely and precisely. Based on the look you will be able to identify the tea in terms of the following characteristics:
  1. Boldness: Black tea leaves must look bold which means the leaves should be big in size.
  2. Evenness: The black leaves must be even in size. 
  3. Color: Black tea should be dark black in color or in the range of different hues of black, not going to gray. 
  4. Touch: The tea shouldn’t crumble in your hand easily. It should be sturdy. If the tea leaves are too light and are getting crumbled easily it clearly means that the tea is too dry and old.



Smelling the loose black tea is yet another step. The smell can tell a lot about the tea. It should smell earthy, fresh and floral. If the aroma is too mild and it is difficult to sniff then the tea leaves are definitely stale.



Under this phase remember the ABC rule, i.e, Aroma, Body and Character. Let’s dig deeper into it.

  1. Aroma: The odor, fragrance, or ‘nose’ is the first step in examining how rich the tea is. There are two kinds of aromas: complex and simple. Complex, as the name suggests, means that the fragrance is strong. Professionals call this odor "bouquet," as they compare it to smelling a bunch of flowers, which will smell more than a single rose. Simple odor has been referred to as a single rose as the smell is not that strong and is minimal compared to a bunch.
  2. Body: Body refers to the consistency, weight and substance of the tea. Whether it is thick or light is figured out at this stage. Tea sommeliers use terms like ‘full’ to describe the tea as good and of perfect consistency and color. 
  3. Character: This refers to the background story of the tea. Each state and country has its own tea culture and tradition. This makes the character of the tea. People who emulate the tea sommeliers keep an in-depth knowledge about the origin of tea and its traditions belonging to  a particular place.


Some Key Points To Remember:


Not to get confused, astringency here refers to the refreshing and clean quality of the tea. It is the amalgamation of the tannins (compounds found in tea which give it a distinct taste and are rich in antioxidants) in tea and the protein in our saliva. There may not be a rule as to whether the astringency should be high or low, but it is something that should be taken note of. 


The finish is the aftertaste of the tea. The taste that is left on the tongue after you have taken a sip of it. For a while, taste the tea properly, and then decide how your experience was after that. 

Good and Bad Terms

Tea that has lost its qualities either due to too much moisture or due to transportation is called flat. The tea might also not be that desirable besides the conditions mentioned above. It can be bitter, harsh, coarse, dull, and brassy.

On the other hand, the tea can be clean, which means a perfect cup of tea. It can be fresh and has a lovely flavor.


Here are some terms to get you started on becoming a tea Sommelier:

Be eloquent in terms of speaking like a good tea examiner by going through some of the most commonly used words for describing tea:


This refers to the taste and smell of spices like cloves, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper, saffron, fennel and coriander.


This refers to that smoky-like taste and smell like that of ash, whiskey, smoked wood etc. 


The taste and smell is as sweet as that of sugar, honey, caramel etc.


This refers to a jam-like, fruit based taste and smell like that of lemon, orange, raspberry, etc. 


Fragrance and taste like that of flowers like jasmine, rose, etc.


So, as you saw, just keep these simple points in mind and you will become a skillful tea sommelier. Channelize your inner tea connoisseur and hone your latent skills in tea analysis. Learn about your favorite beverage in depth and get closer to it and love it even more.

All the best, fellow tea lovers!

You can do this!