DIY tea tasting and prep class
As the local ‘tea junkie’, I’ve been recruited to give a tea tasting and prep class this fall at my church (and here I’ve thought unitarians only drank coffee!). I’m asking for some good tips/ideas for teas to sample and (more importantly) logistical ideas for prep and sampling. (note: I’ll be doing teas, not tisanes).
I’ve been to only two formal tastings, both done at my local kitchen store, by the folks from the Republic of Tea. There will be less than 20 people and it’ll probably be an evening event with no time limit. I’m trying to aim the class towards newbies who’ve never handled loose leaf teas in their life. My initial thought was to do the classics (china white, japanese green, oolong, darjeeling, assam or ceylon) then offer a few things that people may be reticent to try like lapsang souchong and pu-erh, as well as a nice jasmine or houjicha.
Thoughts? and Thanks!
Raw and cooked pu erh are vastly different so it’d be a good idea to offer both. Also how about matcha? I always tell people who are afraid to try it to go to a tea cafe that offers it, so this would be a great place to lessen matcha’s intimidation- especially if you’re in an area that doesn’t have a cafe that offers it. Yellow tea? blooming tea? If you wanted to include tisanes you could point out the differences between green and red rooibos and green and red honeybush as well as roasted unroasted mate.
Both logistically and for the sake of teaching, I’d use several different prep methods. If you have the teaware to do a miniature traditionally japanese or chinese style tasting – great! But I know that a large part of what got me drinking loose leaf teas was realizing how easy they are to prepare with in-mug infusers, fillable paper bags, or a teapot and strainer. Likewise, loose-leaf quality tea in a sachet (as from Mighty Leaf, Harney & Sons, and others I’m sure) can be a revelation, and simplify things greatly for you!
If you’re looking to convert people, I would 1) try to make temperature and steep time accessible (rather than intimidating) and 2) have some extra samples on hand for people to take home (or tins to buy, if that’s allowed). A flyer with several of your favorite tea stores, or good beginner sets online (I’m thinking of Adagio’s IngenuiTEA with samplers, http://bit.ly/bEFKFM ) would probably be useful to them, as well.
As for the tea choices: Maybe include some flavored teas? A strong breakfast blend might go over well too, if most of your participants are coffee drinkers.
Sounds like a great event!
Add 52teas and Golden Moon to list of companies to go on the flyer:) Tea Bird’s mention of the IgenuiTEA (Which would be a great demo) reminded me of savory teas- Adagio has several.
I 2nd the idea of showing them the bags (T-Sacs or something like it, Adagio has some: http://www.adagio.com/teaware/paper_filters.html?SID=97d83cdbb24b5d010309b5a11a9a5f29 )
When I first started drinking tea, I liked them because it was so similar to regular tea bags. This could help them to be less intimidated.
Be sure to collect email addresses so you can email them a $5 coupon code for their 1st Adagio order if they’d like one.
I agree with Cofftea’s idea of blooming tea. If someone has never really experienced loose leaf before (and even if they have), they will be awed by blooming tea’s beauty.
And the fact that it’s drinkable! I admit I still think “Oh, that’s too pretty to drink.”
Blooming tea terrifies me! I think it looks like sea creature aliens!!! I know I am in the minority!!!
People who’ve never handled loose leaf may not know the leaves can be resteeped, so be sure to discuss that.
Especially if you’re going to cover Japanese greens and Pu Erhs, discuss unique steeping parameters (i.e. “not all greens are created equal”), that pu erh is not a black tea, and things to look for in good/bad packaging. These are common mistakes that even tea companies/stores make so we need to be on our toes and not make them ourselves. Debunk tea myths (caffeine, one tea is better than the other, etc)… and don’t forget to mention steepster!
Super ideas! Yep, I’ve already convinced a few people that you have to pay attention to temperature when brewing, and I’m making a list of online and local stores that sell tea (our local kitchen store sells practially the whole line of Republic of Tea; there’s a few in there I like). OOh, blooming teas are a great idea! That could double as a flavored type to try, also. Thanks for the info!
I agree with Tea Bird about a handout. People tend to feel less intimidated when they have some notes at hand. It will also take their eyes off of you. Possible ideas to include:
- tea website links esp. Steepster
- basic brewing instructions
- list of tea names from the tasting
- area for note-taking.
I just ran across a nice article on Page 5 that could possibly be used as a lesson plan or at least a starting point for some discussion questions.
Be sure to let us know how it goes. Good Luck.
Decaf true teas are also a must to show people they don’t have to sacrifice the health benefits of tea if they need to cut caffeine.
Don’t think I have much to add to the above suggestions, but boy, this sounds like FUN!
Hey I’ve done the odd informal event, and I found it best to keep it simple. Don’t get too technical or you’ll scare people off. Why don’t you have a mini practice with a couple of friends and see what they like and take it from there? I’d also recommend flower tea brewed in a glass tea pot because it just looks so so so beautiful.