DavidT said

Cooling Flavors

Does anyone notice the taste of any given brew changes depending on it’s temperature? I’m not talking about brew-temp. More like as the cup cools off, I often notice minute changes, and sometimes even completely different flavor profiles.

For example, I notice with some strong black teas, like an Assam I drank recently, when it was too hot to take a big drink of but just cool enough for an airy sip, it was quite astringent and bitter. Let that cup cool a few minutes, and it’s lost that too-sharp edge and become quite enjoyable. Towards the other extreme, I have an incredible Darjeeling first flush in my cupboard, that when almost-too-hot has a refreshing green vegetal flavor to it, that fades to a more fruity of a profile when it’s still hot but gulp-able. Allowed to cool even further and it changes to a bouquet of flowers with just a tad bit of the fruitiness remaining.

So again, has anyone else noticed anything similar happening in their cup? Any theories as to why this may happen? My only thought is it must be that some chemicals that are responsible for various flavors evaporate out with the steam at varying rates, thus creating the change.

Also, I usually drink out of bigger mugs, usually holding somewhere between 1.5-2 actual cups of tea. I suppose this gives me more time to notice these occurrences, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find out those of you who take your tea in smaller doses may not be as aware of this. Either way, I’m excited to see what you all may have to say.

6 Replies

This is actually old news in the tea world. It’s the reason that it’s suggested that you warm your teaware prior to use, and why many tea ceremonies include a “washing” of the teaware before use with hot water, and why hot water will be poured over a vessel while brewing. Also, to note, why teaware such as the brewing vessels and decanters are built to retain the heat so well.

Personally, I agree with the philosophy of having the tea as hot as brew-temp and drinkability allows – it’s the truest and freshest flavor.

I’m pretty sure there is a chemical difference, depending on the temperature (or so I recall hearing/reading). If I remember correctly, it’s best to have the tea hot, to obtain the best results for health qualities.

Shanti said

“it’s the truest and freshest flavor”

See, I don’t understand this reasoning at all…what if you prefer a tea after it cools down? Don’t drink that tea at all? What if a tea tastes more “fresh” at a different temp? Sweeter? Less astringent? I’ve certainly noticed for some teas different notes come out at different times post-brew, and many times the sweeter, delicate notes come out a few minutes after the cup has initially been poured.

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fcmonroe said

Your sense of taste is temperature dependent. Ever noticed how much sweeter melted ice cream tastes than frozen, cold ice cream? When foods are cold they taste less sweet. Here’s a write up about temperature and taste that I thought was very interesting.

“About two out of every three people tested in the study experienced at least one taste quality — sweetness is the most common thermal taste and saltiness is the least common.”

from the following:

Shanti said

Neat article, thanks for sharing :) although that article was about frozen and cool foods…I wonder if this really applies to hot foods or warm foods, or even room temperature foods? I’ve noticed some teas get sweeter once they cool down.

Cofftea said

I’ve also heard not to eat ice cream w/ a metal spoon. So no metal tumbler for your tea.

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Harfatum said

Yes! My current favorite Assam, Mountain Malt, can taste a little brussels-sprouty immediately after brewing, especially if too much leaves were used. Give it a minute and it pretty much goes away.

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