"lubricating mouth-feel"


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"lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby Streak » Feb 25th, '14, 02:42

Hello again tea-addiction-enablers, :)

I have a question and I'm hoping some of you might be able to offer some input. I'm drinking a silver needle white tea from Yunnan Sourcing with the following description:

"High quality hand-picked and processed silver needles (pure bud) white tea from Da Si village in Feng Qing county of Lincang. Slight cinnamon spice aroma when brewed. Thick and sweet. Very lubricating mouth-feel that stays in the mouth after drinking."

Question: What exactly is responsible for this "lubricating mouth-feel"? Is it common to any other teas? I vaguely remember a similar feel from Kabusecha and Gyokuro, but it's never been so prominent as with the Silver Needle teas I've gotten from YS over the past few years.
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby wyardley » Feb 25th, '14, 04:25

I think usually the "thickness" in tea comes from saponins, but could be wrong.
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby chrl42 » Feb 25th, '14, 05:15

At a glance I didn't find much connection with Silver Needle and lubrication. But re-scanning found Feng Qing I reset to think..

Many Feng Qing (as in Dian Hong or Puerh) teas are that way, thick and somewhat lubraticating (?) with their huge leaves and quite durable in brewing. And I believe they can make pretty fine white tea as well :)
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby Drax » Feb 25th, '14, 07:46

A quick search yielded mixed results on what saponins taste like. I saw everything from sweet, to bitter, to soapy.

Perhaps the thick mouth feel comes from oils that are in the tea? We talk about tea oil, though I don't believe I have ever heard the identity of specific oils suspected to be in tea. Typically oils are made of fatty acids (a carboxylic acid with a long carbon chain), which are chemically very distinct from saponins and other the other chemicals we normally talk about in tea (such as theophylline, tannins, or the many anti-oxidants).
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby wyardley » Feb 25th, '14, 18:19

There's some research on the topic that resulted in an interesting article. I think it's in the Art of Tea, but forget which issue - I'll see if I can track it down.
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby Streak » Feb 25th, '14, 18:22

Thanks so much, everyone, for the informative replies!

Drax, it hadn't even occurred to me that there might be some lipids in tea, but you're right, that would certainly affect the overall feel.

chrl42, I've been buying whatever Yunnan Sourcing's currently selling as "silver needle" white, and recently I bought this one: "Yunnan "Yue Guang Bai" Air-Dried Autumn 2013 White". Sure enough, it has the same effect. So, maybe it's not just the SNs, but all the whites? I have yet to try any Yunnan Sourcing greens, but I just got some with my latest order, so I'll have to see if they have the same effect.

I've bought a few black/red teas from YS and I like them quite a bit, but none have that "lubricating" quality the white teas have. I've found something to like in almost every single type of tea I've purchased so far, though - no complaints :)

wyardley, I'd love to see that article, thank you! (And thank you for making the effort, even if you're unable to locate it!)
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby chrl42 » Feb 25th, '14, 22:05

Streak wrote:Thanks so much, everyone, for the informative replies!


chrl42, I've been buying whatever Yunnan Sourcing's currently selling as "silver needle" white, and recently I bought this one: "Yunnan "Yue Guang Bai" Air-Dried Autumn 2013 White". Sure enough, it has the same effect. So, maybe it's not just the SNs, but all the whites? I have yet to try any Yunnan Sourcing greens, but I just got some with my latest order, so I'll have to see if they have the same effect.

I've bought a few black/red teas from YS and I like them quite a bit, but none have that "lubricating" quality the white teas have. I've found something to like in almost every single type of tea I've purchased so far, though - no complaints :)

Yue Guang Bai is similar to white tea, as well. But the point I was putting was the leaves of them. Yue Guang Bai and Feng Qing both come from Yunnan, where the major tea trees to be the big-leaf varieties. White tea originally is from Fujian, the Fujian leaves aren't as huge as Yunnan's in size, what kind of tea leaf they are, affects the taste of tea deeply.

Small tea leaf varieties are suitable to make green tea while some are better in oxidation and fermentation. Correct me if wrong, I am all ears. :)
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby entropyembrace » Feb 27th, '14, 18:33

Drax wrote:A quick search yielded mixed results on what saponins taste like. I saw everything from sweet, to bitter, to soapy.

Perhaps the thick mouth feel comes from oils that are in the tea? We talk about tea oil, though I don't believe I have ever heard the identity of specific oils suspected to be in tea. Typically oils are made of fatty acids (a carboxylic acid with a long carbon chain), which are chemically very distinct from saponins and other the other chemicals we normally talk about in tea (such as theophylline, tannins, or the many anti-oxidants).


I've definitely seen what looks like a thin layer of lipids floating on top of some teas...

on the saponins they're a large class of chemicals so probably why you couldn't find a single characteristic taste for saponins is probably that there isn't really one saponin taste.

Probably the mouthfeel of tea is determined by the combined action of many different kinds of chemicals in tea :) including those we don't think about very often.
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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby MEversbergII » Mar 3rd, '14, 18:35

Yeah, those are oils from the leaf you're seeing floating on top. I had a Yunnanese hong that, on the third infusion, got rather "oily". It was the first time I'd ever seen tea do that. Come to think, I believe I've only seen hongs do that.

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Re: "lubricating mouth-feel"

Postby thirst » Mar 3rd, '14, 21:06

Ooh. I’ve seen residues floating atop the tea bagged tea of other people, but I had always attributed them to the hardness of this region’s water, because I don’t think I’ve seen them in my tea after switching to filtered water. D’oh. :roll:
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