Are my taste buds broken?

So, I’m very new to gong fu brewing and all the different teas and whatnot. I officially started in November! I got a few teas from Meileaf, Floating leaves tea, and Verdant tea. Firstly i tried the silver needle from FLT and it didn’t taste like much to me. I dont know if I’m brewing my teas incorrectly, but nothing is really blowing me away…

9 Replies
tperez said

I haven’t tried anything from Meileaf, but Floating Leaves and Verdant generally have good stuff. Personally I’m not a fan of silver needle, it’s too mild for me; I generally prefer the stronger flavors of pu’erh, blacks, and roasted oolongs. Maybe try steeping it longer?

AllanK said

It may just be you have not located they tea that you will really like yet. With thousands of varieties you are sooner or later bound to find one that blows you away. I have found a lot of teas I really enjoy but only a few out of more than a thousand would I say have blown me away. And those teas were usually expensive. The old saying is you get what you pay for. One that did at least initially blow me away I spent $550 on for a 1kg brick. I have found on the other hand many teas for $25 or $40 that I really enjoyed. If you know the tea in question is very high quality and you really don’t like it you may have been brewing it wrong, or it may simply not be the tea meant for you despite the quality. There are a lot of high quality teas I really don’t like. It could just be a matter of taste. On a side note it is possible for your taste buds to be effected. Things like cuts in your mouth will mess up your ability to taste tea. I had this happen to me. Had a cut in my mouth. Took three or four weeks to heal, everything tasted terrible. That is the only way I know for your taste buds to be broken.

Eating hot peppers can throw your tastebuds out of whack. Since I put hot peppers on everything, I try to do tea sessions before lunch.

About your specific tea problem: try oversteeping the Silver Needle on purpose to bring out extra flavour. If there’s still nothing there you know it isn’t a problem with your brewing technique.

Ken said

Okay Verdant tea has pretty good tea, try a stronger tea like a roasted oolong. If your missing tastes in silver needle, thats fairly normal, if your missing tastes in a roasted oolong your brewing it wrong.

But Silver needle you should definitely be getting a baked bread aroma if you sniff it.

Like the others have said, you may just have not yet found a tea that is right for you. What kind of experiences have you had with tea over the course of your life? What kinds of smells do you like? What kinds of flavors do you like? Those are all things to consider. Personally, I would not recommend jumping into the world of tea with white teas in general. Black teas and oolongs tend to be much more beginner friendly in my experience. If you like vegetal flavors, green teas can be a good introduction too. I’ve only been on Steepster a little over a year, but I’ve been drinking tea a long time now and I still have a lot of trouble with silver needle teas. I find them too subtle. If I were in your position, I would be looking at things like traditional Yunnan and Fujian black teas, Indian Assamicas, Tieguanyin, and Taiwanese oolongs. In my opinion, those teas will let you know really quickly if there is anything wrong with your tastebuds. There are a few more things I would ask. How large is your brewing vessel? How much loose tea are you using? How long is your initial steep? How many total infusions are you conducting and what are their lengths? I ask these questions because it may just be a simple issue with brewing methodology. I’m still new to gongfu myself, but I have found that sometimes a simple tweak makes all the difference in the world.

Okay, I just took a closer look at your tasting note and I noticed that you’re using 5 grams per 5 fluid ounces. Just a thought-try increasing the amount of tea used by 1 or 2 grams. I have found in my own experiments with silver needle that using a little extra can be helpful. Also, it may be helpful to do a quick rinse first if you’re not already doing so (I usually do about 10 seconds for white teas). Another thing I noticed is that you steeped for 5 minutes. Gaiwan brewing tends to work best when you use shorter steeps (seconds rather than minutes in many cases). That may be part of the problem here. My own misadventures with silver needle have suggested that it tends to flatten when steeped for a lengthy period of time when using a large amount of tea in a smaller amount of water (I once packed a 5 ounce gaiwan with 7 grams of tea and forgot about it for nearly 4 minutes. I tried to drink it anyway and it just kind of tasted like hay). My suggestion would be rinse and try a shorter initial infusion and see what happens.

Would help to know how you steeped the teas in detail.

I’ve had that same white from that seller and it has plenty of flavor.

Brian said

silver needle is super light anyway. try something stronger.

Those answers pretty much covered it; it’s most likely related to the tea type. Silver needle and similar teas aren’t my favorite because that range of subtle aspects just isn’t my thing, even though I’ve liked some really mild Bai Mu Dan and Shou Mei (white teas also using leaves). I’d second that light oolong (Tie Kuan Yin or the range of types from Taiwan) and mild but flavorful Chinese blacks seem a good starting point. You might mix a shou pu’er in just in case; it seems unlikely but you might like strong, earthy tea early in the experience curve.

Related to how the question was actually phrased, tasting seems to vary at different times. I think eating spicy or strong flavored foods would be a main variable, but even background noise level can throw off what you pick up. I suspect that people vary more related to what they experience than they would typically be able to become aware of, at different times in the day or across other factors. But your initial concerns are probably at the lower level of resolution of issues, trying to find a tea you like, getting brewing parameters right (like temperature or proportion), sorting out minor variables that can throw things off, like an effect from teaware, or possibly even related to using water that’s not well suited for making tea.

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