Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Aromas of Tea and it's Flavor Profiles

As a wine drinker I naturally enjoy aromas and in terms of Tea there is an endless amount.

Other than the comfort of a great cup of Tea for breakfast instead of Coffee and a cup on a cool or even rainy day; like being stuck inside a cloud.. :-)

I think that is the attraction.

Predominantly most of taste comes from your sense of smell; as well

As part In Disney Institute program when it really was a program (that's another story) early on I learned about all sorts of culinary undertakings and it included studying Tea. There’s also a great book called Tea by Roy Moxham which covers the addiction and exploitation of Tea that is quite detailed…So I figured I'd share...

So here’s a little bit of info.

Each of the thousands of styles of teas in the world has a different flavor and aroma, but there are some generalizations that can be made about the tea flavor profiles.

We tend to think of England and China when it comes to tea….Let’s talk England.

Believe it or not the English were very slow to discover Tea, but let’s say it just hit them like a lightning bolt from the sky. You know how that can be.

It was not until the 1650 that the first records for its use shows up. It showed up in an advertisement in a London newspaper in September 1658.

The article called it ‘“China Drink”, called by the Chinease, Tcha, by other Nations Tay alias Tee’…Wow! That’s how it read in the advertisement. Isn’t that catchy…   ;-)

The first London coffee house was established in 1652; by 1660 there were several... and by the end of the Century there were was at least one for every thousands of the population. Coffee houses were places to discuss business and politics. At first it was only coffee, then came chocolate and tea(sounds like Starbucks!). It’s isn’t known where the first teas came from in London but it was probably from people returning from the East.

Anyways, what dictates the aroma of teas?

It's fairly easy to figure out that each tea has different aroma even from the same region, with same processing and such. So in general; there are several way to conclude aromas in tea terms.

There is Varietal Aroma – which is the essential aroma of a particular varietal (I think of wine as my benchmark)
These varietals hold the essential oils which made them unique without any modification. The aroma may recede but cannot be lost. For instance, Ginger Flower Dan Cong, Yu Lan Xiang Dan Cong.

According to Tea Habitat, these are the most distinctive and should not be altered. They are also the most challenging to make.

There is also Charcoal Aroma – it is a fire wood scent being smoked onto tea. This is fairly common, Lapsang, Russian Caravan, and some pu-erh, green etc…

Another is the fragrant Floral Aroma – it is the essential scent of flowers being absorbed by tea. This is very popular. For example Jasmine or Chamomile Tea

Then there is Production Aroma – This aroma is the natural process of tea which produces and simulates aromas...

For example; Let's use the: Honey Orchid Dan Cong. There are so many Honey Orchid Dan Cong's out there…

How you tell if the Tea is the original aroma or production produced to simulate:

Theoretically speaking, they are not the same at all even though it’s a natural process.

Again, take the Honey Orchid old bush which is essentially aromatic as its name suggested. The commercial production on the other hand is ‘fermented and roasted’ to taste like roasted honey with higher fire and fermentation and the results will reveal over time.

The telling difference is if both teas were left unsealed for 10 months the former will still have the same classic aroma, versus the roasted production version which will lose most of its aroma as the roasting subsides, or alters into something that is not the same.

Roasting can do a number of things to the aroma and flavor of a tea:

High fire roasting usually means sweeter, fruitier and darker teas, due to the sugar transformation from high temperature roasting. The Aroma is significantly changed after high fire.

Low fire and longtime roasting can mellow out the texture and in turn make a smoother cup and the aroma is less modified.

So there you have a little history and technicalities on Tea, its English origins and their aromas

Enjoy a cup!...and especially enjoy those Aromas!

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