Dec 19th, '11, 15:57
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How to develop the palate for the nuances of the black teas

by Memphislawyer » Dec 19th, '11, 15:57

I have ordered 4 teas from Adagio, samplers, of Irish Breakfast, a Keenum, an Assam and a Lapchoung. To be honest, I don't know that I can distinguish between them. SOme descriptions I read say malty, or toasted. I do know I can tell the difference in some tea I sampled at Teavana yesterday, in that it was fruity (their Chai with mate conconction). I also noticed it was served mildly warmed and it was a nice early afternoon swig. I can't drink something really hot, and don't enjoy the black teas until the temp comes down say 5 minutes after steeping.

I also, because I drink too many Diet cokes and my iced tea glass has one package of the pink SweetnLo in it, am trying to teach myself to drink my teas straight up, or if I have to, I'll go get a bottle of honey to swirl in just a tad, but so far, after one week, nothing but black.

So, suggestions for me?

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Dec 19th, '11, 21:29
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Re: How to develop the palate for the nuances of the black teas

by Poohblah » Dec 19th, '11, 21:29

The lapsang souchong should be obviously different from the others - it should smell like a campfire, for starters. If the taste isn't any different, then you're probably not brewing the teas correctly. Oversteeped black teas all tend to taste equally bitter and bland.

Dec 20th, '11, 10:15
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Re: How to develop the palate for the nuances of the black teas

by Memphislawyer » Dec 20th, '11, 10:15

I guess while I was typing the post, I should I have read what my teas from Adagio were. I have the Assam Melody and found out by reading just now that the Irish breakfast is part Ceylon Sonata, and the other part is Assam Melody, which is why I guess I could not really tell the difference. At home, I have the lapsoung, so I will take the Assam home and brew a cup of each tonight. Also will steep it for 3.5 minutes instead of 5 minutes so as to make sure I dont get it too bitter.

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Dec 27th, '11, 21:58
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Re: How to develop the palate for the nuances of the black teas

by joelbct » Dec 27th, '11, 21:58

Good topic.

For developing a palate for tea, the following are important:

Practice (drink tea, repeat often)
Try a diversity of Tea Sources and varieties
Experiment with Brewing Methods
Discuss with like-minded tea-people

When I was 19 I had a broken foot and read in a magazine that drinking Tea helped heal broken bones faster.

So I started just with Twinings. I moved to Connecticut and found a couple decent loose leaf suppliers whose tea's were exponentially better than what I'd found in a grocery store. And I was soon hooked.

Brewing methods are important- The tea leaves do need to breathe to produce a decent liquor (avoid 'tea eggs' or restrictive infuser pots). I always brew greens at 170-190 degrees F and blacks at a rolling boil, but the timeframes are really to personal taste and depend on the tea, at least within a certain range.

Lastly, in mediocre or mass market tea's the subtleties usually aren't there in the first place, so you might not be failing to detect anything. You aren't going to have a rich range of notes on a box of tea bags from Shoprite... Or some overpriced mediocre loose leaf from a tea retailer at the mall ;) It's not just snobbishness, the best teas are much better, richer, more nuanced, more mouthwateringly delicious than the average teas of the masses, and are rather rare, which is why having the right sources is priceless.

Stick to the websites in the vendors threads in this board and you won't go wrong.

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Dec 30th, '11, 00:09
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Re: How to develop the palate for the nuances of the black teas

by SlientSipper » Dec 30th, '11, 00:09

One thing I did.

I would drink a certain tea at different times of the day.
Like when I'm dead tired. Does it refresh me?
When I'm awake Am I amped up?
After dinner? Does it fill me up? Does it settle my stomach.

Oh and letting it sit in your mouth before swallowing. This lets your taste buds get a better reading. Just don't drink it too hot. :D

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