Role of Sensory Organs in Tea Tasting: A Brief

Tea tasting is something of a fascination for those who are crazy tea lovers. Tasting premium tea is a joy, it is just like savoring a fine wine. Learning how to taste tea is no lesser than art. Yes, it may sound ridiculous but it’s true. To fully taste tea like a professional, one would need to use all their taste buds and olfactory senses.

Flavor is the combined effect of taste and aroma. Taste is recognized through the taste buds. The 5 basic tastes are bitter, salty, sour, savory, and sweet. Foods such as lemons, tea, and sourballs are evaluated in terms of astringency. The temperature of food may affect its flavor. The aroma is the odor of food. continued.

Tea tasting opens one up to experiencing and describing your cup of tea in a new way. Tea is endlessly complex; starting from the appearance of the leaves, the aroma, the liquor, and the flavour, at times it seems as though there are hardly enough words to describe the nuances you’re experiencing! It is very obvious that when we think of tasting, we think of our tongue. The tasting itself is the process by which we can identify the different characteristics of a food product through the senses, such as texture, taste or smell. The technical tasting of tea, in particular, is a methodology that is developed over the years, through rigorous practice, to study the teas in all its phases: the dry leaf, the wet leaf and the liquor (the liquid that we obtain after infusing the leaves). Its objective is to identify and describe the organoleptic characteristics of teas: its colour, shape, aroma, etc., in reference to elements that we know, from a perspective as objective as possible. It is a sensory experience performed by people trained in the tasting process and sensory sciences.   Most research studies have suggested that up to 90% of the flavour is perceived not through literal tasting but through smell. Our tongues have the ability to detect five essential tastes which give us our initial impression:

  1. Sweet
  2. Salty
  3. Acidic
  4. Bitter
  5. Umami– It is a Japanese word, meaning ‘pleasant savoury taste’.

  The most important aspect of becoming a good tea tasting professional is to pay attention to when you drink tea. Ask yourself questions about the tea. How does the tea taste? Does the aroma remind you of anything? Is it rich and full-bodied, or light and refreshing? What is the aftertaste like? Are there any unpleasant qualities that you would rather do without? How does this tea compare to other similar ones? How does the character of the tea change when you brew it differently? Is the tea more enjoyable when you drink it with certain types of food, or at certain times of the day? Our initial perception of anything can sometimes throw us off the taste, which is why it is important that we first inhale the aroma and then indulge ourselves in actually tasting the tea. As mentioned earlier, we are usually advised to taste tea with the help of our sense of smell, it’s important to deeply consider the aroma. There are two techniques for sniffing and inhaling tea aroma, these are as follows: Deeply inhaling – Holding the brew as close to your nose as possible and taking a deep breath in order to gain a complete aroma is called deep inhalation process. Dog action – taking rapid, shallow inhalations through our nose, rather like a panting dog. There are taste wheels designed to help us consider some of the tea aromas. Once you identify the aroma, you will start to realize the first perception of the exact flavour of the tea. The next and most important step is to identify the taste. For this, we need to taste the tea with our tongues and let our taste buds enjoy the flavour. Let us dig in a little about our taste buds: Our taste buds form a part of a very intricate system that allows our brain to understand and differentiate on a variety of tastes. Our taste buds along with the gustatory receptors and the olfactory gland helps our brain to make a decision on whether we recognize and like the flavour of the tea we are about to ingest. The Olfactory Gland is a sensory gland situated a few centimeters behind the back of our eyes and nose. There are extremely fine hairs on its surface with the help of which it captures molecules of what we are smelling and in some cases putting in our mouth. This is primarily why it is vital to slurp our tea to mix with the air. Once, we slurp and the tongue captures the flavour, the neural messages sent from our tongue combined with the olfactory gland and with some help from the gustatory receptors, we are easily able to build a profile of the tea that we are consuming. So, when the next time we consume anything with a similar flavour, we tend to identify it instantly. To get professional training on tea tasting, one can always enroll in certified tea training programs. Asian School of Tea is a premier academy imparting the best of knowledge about tea. Our team of experienced tea professionals intends to create a global tea community to help promote awareness about tea and contribute towards the formation of a worldwide class of tea lovers. We give you hands-on training in every aspect of tea starting from nurturing the saplings to brewing the perfect cup. We use cutting-edge techniques of perfumers to train the senses, mainly the smell. We go through the history of tasting and perfume and delve into sensory analysis and neurosciences, stimulating the senses to discover tea in a detailed and professional way. In short, we help you evolve from a regular tea drinker to a tea connoisseur.

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