Mineral taste?

Owes its flavors to oxidation levels between green & black tea.

Aug 7th, '17, 03:38
Posts: 700
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Mineral taste?

by Bok » Aug 7th, '17, 03:38

Fellow tea friends…

In descriptions about tastes of teas, more specifically Wuyi teas, but sometimes also other oolongs one frequently hears mentioned a mineral taste.

Keeps me wondering how would I know what a mineral taste is?
How do people know?

To put it in a silly way: is it what you get when you lick a stone? :mrgreen:
Or when tasting mineral water? Or which other food or drink would have a typical taste which would be described as mineral? Some other drinking waters have added minerals, mostly very unpleasant to drink, so I am guessing it is not that.

Puzzles me…

Taste and smell are highly subjective in general, but there must be some common ground.

Any input is appreciated!

User avatar
Aug 7th, '17, 05:30
Posts: 539
Joined: Aug 19th, '15, 07:03
Location: on the road

Re: Mineral taste?

by kuánglóng » Aug 7th, '17, 05:30

Bok wrote: To put it in a silly way: is it what you get when you lick a stone? :mrgreen:
Not just stones but all sorts of salts and minerals - been there, did that and almost died from poisoning many years ago :lol: I guess I'm a sucker for that aspect in tea - no minerals, no fun.

Aug 7th, '17, 05:54
Posts: 700
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Re: Mineral taste?

by Bok » Aug 7th, '17, 05:54

kuánglóng wrote:
Bok wrote: To put it in a silly way: is it what you get when you lick a stone? :mrgreen:
Not just stones but all sorts of salts and minerals - been there, did that and almost died from poisoning many years ago :lol: I guess I'm a sucker for that aspect in tea - no minerals, no fun.
So it would be indeed the kind of taste I remember from childhood days putting quartz rocks and other stones into my mouth! Who knew that would be good for something one day!

User avatar
Aug 7th, '17, 06:17
Posts: 1670
Joined: Sep 2nd, '13, 03:22
Location: in your tea closet
Contact: kyarazen

Re: Mineral taste?

by kyarazen » Aug 7th, '17, 06:17

thats a complicated question.

i suppose the issue is between mineral "scent" and "taste" that is often mixed up.

on taste wise, as some minerals are not very soluble, the desirable mineral taste is one that makes the water feel "thick", the overall feeling of smoothness/softness tongue feel of the water. this is due to the right amount of dissolved minerals interacting with the tongue on drinking, and is also relative to the tongue's current state, i.e. havent had been in contact with chilli spices, menthol, peppermint, strong acidity etc for a while. this feeling is mostly attributed to soluble calcium and carbonate content.

on the other hand there are not so nice mineral tastes, i.e. the wrong ratio, pH, or too high in magnesium or sulphates, this results in the tongue, the sides of it near the rear having some bitey feeling (almost like wanting to salivate yet cannot salivate feel).

and there's the tongue "scrunching" feel, especially when high TDS water is boiled and precipitation occurs. these precipitate coat the tongue, leaving a "layer" and a bitey feeling.

there's also the free iron ion taste.. or the geosmin taste that all fall under the "mineral taste" umbrella.

on mineral scent that is generally a "base of cup" type of scent, where the thin film of tea on the surface of the tea cup oxidizes in air over a period of five to twenty seconds.. it becomes this dark, deep, scent profile that ranges from being brown mossy, to deep woody florals, this profile is due to the tea film oxidizing in the presence of sufficient mineral content. you can get the same experience by brewing some super high mountain tea (usually low mineral content due to high surface run-off on high altitudes) with the use of high TDS water like Vittel. compare with/without the use of such a water, and you can discover the effects on "mineral scent".

Aug 7th, '17, 08:28
Vendor Member
Posts: 1295
Joined: May 27th, '12, 12:47
Location: Boston, MA

Re: Mineral taste?

by ethan » Aug 7th, '17, 08:28

Bok wrote:
Keeps me wondering how would I know what a mineral taste is?
How do people know?
I think one just knows. And one gets a feel for what others mean by the word.

Cigar smokers have many terms that seem crazy until one has a cigar that makes the term make sense though it is nonsensical in a way. "Leather" is the most common one, since we don't smoke,, eat, nor drink leather, and the leather description of flavor has nothing to do with the smell of leather.

Bok, I am guessing that when you were confronted with minerals' effects more often, you thought "mineral" in a simple reaction. Several years ago a lot of lightly oxidized, unroasted oolongs definitely had drinkers recognizing the taste and feel of minerals and this was mentioned frequently in Teachat. Then I preferred no more than a hint of minerals and almost all of the many teas I had from Origin were excellent and thrilling yet marred for me by the minerals. (I don't think that would be an issue for me now.) Other vendors with excellent teas often just called Alishan or Lishan tea then, were also selling oolong that does not seem common now, lighter tea with a tiny amount of sweetness and the minerals light in feel if not in taste.

My comments which may seem odd after the technical response to the ? of the thread, mean to point out the puzzle is part of changes in tea offered. Sampling so much at times, how have I not had any of that kind of oolong from not so many years ago? How has a word, mineral, become confusing when it was probably clear before? Perhaps because what's being sold is different.

Aug 9th, '17, 00:13
Posts: 700
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Re: Mineral taste?

by Bok » Aug 9th, '17, 00:13

Thank you all very much for the very specific/scientific as well as spritual inputs – I think we have it all covered! Much clearer for me now.

Aug 9th, '17, 00:15
Posts: 700
Joined: Aug 4th, '14, 05:43

Re: Mineral taste?

by Bok » Aug 9th, '17, 00:15

Kyarazen, I take off my hat to you, impressive how you can put complex matters into understandable words.

User avatar
Aug 20th, '17, 23:30
Posts: 103
Joined: May 2nd, '17, 23:46

Re: Mineral taste?

by janet11 » Aug 20th, '17, 23:30

What an interesting! what's mineral taste? I think it's the feeling just like water and nothing to find. :roll:

Aug 29th, '17, 07:57
Posts: 33
Joined: Jul 29th, '15, 15:28

Re: Mineral taste?

by MarcusReed » Aug 29th, '17, 07:57

I am very much a wuyi oolong drinker but the mineral profile is very mysterious. I thank you for the contribution Kyarazen had to add.
It seems my favorite mineral profiles are the smooth thick type like Kyarazen had described as the ones that are thick and viscous with the soup often have the right amount of dissolved salts in it.

Does anyone notice a difference when just using different water sources?

It took a lot of experimenting for me personally to find a water that worked well with the mineral profiles of the tea I drink.
Poor water and weak tea seems to make flat tasting mineral profiles.

User avatar
Aug 30th, '17, 04:57
Posts: 26
Joined: Jan 14th, '17, 03:22
Location: China
Contact: Teasenz

Re: Mineral taste?

by Teasenz » Aug 30th, '17, 04:57

Buy and try it out yourselves. The 'mineral' taste of those wuyi rock teas is so unique that they only way to calibrate the flavour experience with others is to try it yourself.

User avatar
Aug 31st, '17, 00:47
Posts: 200
Joined: Dec 25th, '13, 22:59
Location: bangkok

Re: Mineral taste?

by john.b » Aug 31st, '17, 00:47

I've recently tried a hei cha (Hunan brick tea) that reminded me of another different type of compressed tea (Yunan black) for having an unusual underlying mineral taste range. It's quite hard to describe, and odd that the other flavor profile for both teas share some common ground but aren't really similar in some senses.

From this post, about the Hunan hei cha: http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.co ... brick.html

The taste range from the scent is there, figs, an old version of dried hay, not really dry, light bright tones but earthier and sweeter range, with some depth to it. It's clean in effect, not off in any way. That part of the range sort of reminds me of the Yunnan compressed black tea but it's the underlying tone that really does. It includes layers of molasses earthiness and sweetness with an unusual mineral tone, like the scent of an artesian well that draws up minerals from deep in the ground. I really like that part, although I suppose that maybe not everyone would. It's not off in any way, not difficult to appreciate, but it is different.

I never really did do justice to the mineral tone in the first "shai hong" compressed black tea review; I compared it to the scent of volcanic soil in that. I just tried that tea again in the past few days and liked it even more, and interpreting that common ground does seem justified, but if anything the rest of the flavor range varies more than I remembered.

It's interesting thinking through how any of this is similar or different from other versions of mineral aspects in Taiwanese oolongs or Wuyishan (roasted Fujian) oolongs. And also to consider to what extent minerals really probably are taste aspects picked up by tongue, versus feel elements (like astringency, or the different types of thickness described), contrasted with aromatic flavor aspects identified by nasal passages sensation. There's lots more I could say about that since it's a subject I've been researching but adding a paragraph or two would probably make things less clear rather than more clear, especially considering the limited value in my own interpretation of all that.

Sep 1st, '17, 02:59
Posts: 10
Joined: Jul 30th, '17, 22:23

Re: Mineral taste?

by Hezo541 » Sep 1st, '17, 02:59

Maybe the tea you drink is rock tea.

+ Post Reply