From Dragonwell to Darjeeling, classic single-origin teas deliver distinctive results. Growers and producers of these signature teas know their work is built upon the delivering these sought-after flavor profiles. Each of these teas expected to smell, feel, and taste a certain way. The beauty and charm of working with (and enjoying) these teas comes from the combination of the slight variances produced from each harvest, and the delicate dance that people use to highlight classic character in harmony with that natural variance.
Tasting a tea and appreciating the defining flavors of a tea requires experience and memory. In the worlds of wine and coffee, flavor wheels exist to help people visualize potential flavors present. These wheels can also be used to record the tasting experience.
Enter the Tea Flavor Wheel
Walker Tea Review has developed a tea flavor wheel to represent the characteristic flavors you should expect to find in a classic, single-origin tea. These classic profiles are captured in the series: “What Should It Taste Like.”Let’s take a look at the flavor wheel and its use.
Segments of the wheel are color coded to represent flavor groups. For example, you’ll see a couple of green sections. The segment that includes spinach and green bean flavors indicates the heavier flavors of these vegetables over less “green” characteristics of seaweed or celery. The color wheel captures key flavor groups found in green, yellow, wulong, black and dark teas.
Flavor intensity is represented by how far the color of the segment extends outward. The stronger the flavor, the more of the segment is colored. You’ll notice that a tea can display multiple characteristics, and the intensity of these characteristics may vary through a tasting. A tea may have a minty taste at first, then fade to display other flavor notes.
Beyond Just Flavor
Other characteristics contribute significantly to a tea’s signature flavor profile. These traits include:
Flavor Duration: This is about the overall duration of flavor. Compared to lower grade teas, better teas are not necessarily intense in taste, but usually hold their flavors longer. This indicator helps reveal the quality of the tea.
Texture Strength: For some tea cultures, the texture of the tea is as important as the flavors. A fine tea should be smooth, with textures rich enough to be called brothy, creamy, or almost a jammy stickiness.
Texture Duration: After you swallow the tea, is there still a coating on the mouth and throat? How long does it last? If the tea leaves a pleasant coating on the mouth – not harshly astringent, you on the trail of a fine tea.
Aftertaste Intensity: This is one of the most overlooked characteristics of a superior tea. A great tea will create a pleasant, usually sweet aftertaste.
Teas in the What Should It Taste Like series: