PamDZ said

Vegetal--Think I just experienced it?

SO I have been hearing this word, VEGETAL, describing taste characteristics of certain teas. Just tried White Silver Needle, White Tea (brand unknown, my merchant won’t reveal his brands)and it tasted like horse hay smells and I was trying to think of a word and Vegetal came to mind. Is this vegetal, horse hay-ish flavor?

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teapot1 said

I can’t wait to see an answer from the connoisseurs on Steepster. So far the whites I have tasted don’t seem to fit vegetal, but then again they are flavored. Some of the greens, and with out a doubt the unflavored matcha sample I received made that word flash in my mind. I thought, “that’s it! vegetal”. It wasn’t a bad thing, but like you say hay or grass like…

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Lala said

Vegetal can mean whatever you want it to mean. To me when I describe something as vegetal I am thinking grass, the green stems and leaves of plants, etc.

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sandra said

vegetal to me is more like a broccoli or spinach taste, i.e. Japanese teas have a grassy, vegetal taste (which you either hate or love)

Emily M said

I consider it more of a broccoli/spinach taste, too.

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No; vegetal is cleanly and fresh in taste like broccoli or stewed/steamy broccoli. After the water is removed feel the steam/vapor rise out of the pan as this is one aspect of vegetal. Spinach is another type of vegetal; if you can note the difference in the two that pretty much describes vegetal. Asian tea and Japanese tea are two vegetals. Now, the tricky part; which is Asia (China) and which is Japan? hint: steam or pan fried/fired.

No matter, happy teas to all.

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When I describe teas as vegetal, I usually think about the difference between mint-flavoring and the taste of real, live mint leaves. They both have a minty, sparkling taste, but the fresh mint has something extra, something green, something… vegetal! For me, it’s that living green plant flavor that makes real mint unique from the sweet mint flavoring.

I think David explains it better than I can, so I’ll refer you to his article on the vegetal flavor spectrum for better reading:

That hay-flavor in white tea can certainly be vegetal, especially if the hay you have in mind is a greener, fresher version (or like sweet grasses) rather than very very dry and near-dusty. Bai Mu Dan White Teas can feel more crisply vegetal (with citrus or apple flavors) while Silver Needles are more warm and hay-like… this is especially true if they are from Yunnan, which often gives a “linen” texture to the brew. Part of the difference between these two styles of white tea is due to the sheer amount of fuzzy bud-material in Silver Needle white tea: the little fuzzy bits on the leaves actually come off in your brew, and can help make the liquid actually feel fuzzy in your mouth. That might be why the vegetal note you’re picking up in your white tea feels more like hay (warm, cozy, sweet) and less like fresh-cut grass clippings (cool, juicy, stone-like). It’s no secret that the tongue is one of the most sensitive touch organs, and the “feel” of the tea definetly effects the flavor you taste. Because of this, I think vegetal flavor is several parts green taste, and several more parts the texture of vegetal.

Whatever triggers it for you, it’s always exciting to add new vocabulary and experiences to your tea drinking! Now that you’ve identified vegetal, I think you’ll find it will add depth to other teas you drink, both because you’ll have words to take about what you’re experiencing, and because it will reveal connections between teas you might not have thought to compare otherwise. (ie: I know green tea is vegetal, but why am I getting a vegetal note in this roasted oolong? etc etc).

Happy drinking!

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