Running a tea company I’m constantly surrounded by the statement, ‘I LOVE tea!’, or ‘Oh, goodness, I couldn’t live without tea’ – but here’s my question to you; how much do you really know about your tea, and do you know how to appreciate a really great new tea?
Tea appreciation, especially in China, is something completely different to tea drinking; appreciating your tea takes the humble drink past the point of something you simply quaff in the morning to get you going, or your favourite accompaniment to biscuits. Tea appreciation is about really looking, smelling and tasting your tea, right from the dry leaf through to the aftertaste and thoughts about the tea you’ve finished.
‘Appreciating’ or ‘tasting’ tea is something we do often at PostTea; we sample and try every tea we think about putting on our tea menu, and we also receive a lot of samples from companies who’d love us to sell their tea. But we’re a picky bunch here, and when we find something we like we don’t change from it easily.
Second to that is that important truth that all tea harvests can vary in taste, smell and appearance, just as one vintage of wine can be significantly better than another from the same vine. Just because we’ve found a great tea that we love doesn’t mean we stop trying it. Every new bag that’s opened is sampled and tasted three times to make sure we’re happy with what we’re selling.
Our next blog post will cover more details about how we taste and appreciate our tea, but I just wanted to leave you with something lovely in Chinese:
The word for tea appreciation in Chinese is ‘pin cha’ (品茶), meaning ‘beautiful one’. The word ‘pin’ (品) often has complimentary connotations such as a person of good taste and of course ‘cha’ means tea! Interestingly the word ‘pin’ is also written with 3 ‘kou’(口) which is the Chinese character for mouth or mouthful. In Southern Chinese tea culture, a small ‘pin ming bei’ (品茗杯) or ‘tea appreciation cup’ (similar to the cup you might drink tea out of at your local Chinese restaurant) is expected to be consumed within 3 sips or mouthfuls.