Developing an appreciation for black teas
Hey all, I was wondering if you had any advice or resources (books, links) on developing an appreciation for black teas. I can taste a green tea and pick out the ‘notes’ with precision, but I have yet to do this for black teas. Let me know, thanks!
I think the hands-on experience of drinking a lot of different black teas would be much more beneficial than reading a book. ;)
Yeah, drinking a ton of different black teas is definitely included in the plan. Just placed a massive sample order from Harney’s.
I have very little experience, but in my opinion, as long as you try a high quality Yunan Gold (black tea), you won’t have to ‘develop’ any kind of appreciation, it could come instantly! (At least, it did for me the first time I tried this).
This is a great idea. I am a total black tea rookie. Maybe we can join forces, order a variety of samples and see what’s what? Just a thought…
I would start with a variety of the “classics”: Earl Grey, Irish and English Breakfasts. Samples from Upton are fairly decent sizes and prices.
I would say start from the bottom. Avoid flavoured stuff, even classics such as Earl Grey (which is flavoured with bergamot), and concentrate instead on familiarising yourself with the various regions. Looks for Assams, Darjeelings, Nilgiris (these seem to be a little harder to find), Ceylons, Keemuns, Yunnans and Panyongs. If you’re feeling brave, Lapsang Souchong. It should give you an idea of which ones you prefer. Personally I’m partial to China and especially the south-eastern parts.
After this, dive into blends and flavoured. :)
I completely agree here. Even the breakfast blends are just blends of black teas from different regions.
The thing to pay attention to is that different regions, different altitudes, climates, soil conditions, annual rainfall and other growing conditions have an impact on the final flavor profile of the tea. The particular strain of the tea plant varies from region to region as well.
Assam teas (grown in the Assam valley in India) are bolder, stouter teas, while high-grown Nilgiri (grown in the mountains in south India) and Ceylon (grown at high altitudes in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon)) have brighter, crisper cups. Darjeeling (also from India) has a unique muscatel flavor and mouth-feel.
These are just a few examples, but as suggested earlier in this thread, it’s not enough to read about the differences, you have to experience them for yourself.
Wow, so many great suggestions! This is going to be a fun project.
In addition to the region, altitude, rainfall and other environmental issues, Darjeelings vary according to when they are picked and processed (Spring – first flush, Summer – second flush or Autumn flush). Darjeeling teas from the same garden, and even picked from the same bushes have much different taste profiles from one picking (flush) to the next. Start with a couple of Darjeeling Estate teas, and you will clearly taste the differences.
If you would like, I will send you some samples to try. Just email me at email@example.com.