Come on, if you’re reading this it’s safe to assume that you like tea a little more than the average tea drinker, that or you at least feel that you’re at a more intellectual level when it comes to tea drinking, so much so that you feel obligated to read about tea. Either way it’s fine, but you need to learn your teas!
Now I can run dozens of different teas by you, it’s easy enough to memorize and learn different names, but what really makes you a better tea drinker, one step closer to the ever elusive Tea Connoisseur title, is understand their distinctive characteristics! I’m going to help you out, because I’m awesome like that :)
Lets start with one of the more popular types of tea, mainly popularized here state side a little more in recent years, it’s none other than Chai. It’s an Indian tea that has a fine, subtle fine herbal flavor to it. Unlike most teas, Chai is traditionally made with milk and certain spices like ginger, cloves and even cinnamon. At most Tea Shops, most Cinnamon Tea’s and milk tea lattes are actually made with Chai as it tastes best with the milk and herbal additions.
Assam is a particular favorite of my fathers due to it’s unique color, intense in aroma and because it’s almost malty in flavor. It’s from northeastern India and served in most stores across the world, you’ve probably tried it without knowing it.
The Buddha of all Indian Tea’s is probably Darjeeling, grown in the foothills of the Himalayas, it’s slightly yellowish color and strong, almost fruity taste makes it stand out among the rest.
There’s Gunpowder Tea which is a strong, slightly peppery green tea originally from the Guangdong province in China that has a smokey aroma, sort of where the name came from (that and how the tea leaves are initially rolled up and explode in size upon brewing this tea). And oh, yeah, almost completely forgot about Matcha which is the strongest of all green teas out there and has a bittersweet slightly grassy taste. It’s thick and frothy and used both in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies as well as Western Coffee shops to make heavy frothy green tea lattes. Oh the diversity
Next lets talk about Earl Grey, to me one of the less authentic teas out there. Why you may wonder? Don’t light the torches and leave those pitchforks alone, I know most of college students swear by Earl Grey, many cafes do too, but I just know too much of the history to actually ‘respect’ the tea at all. EG is originally an authentic, rich, black tea only it was named after then English Prime Minister, Charles Grey. It’s believed that Earl Grey found the Indian tea that was being imported into England back in the early 1800’s to lack ‘taste’. He wasn’t much of a Connoisseur so who can blame him? Anyway, he took this magnificent rich tea and created his own version by simply adding some bergamot oil and orange to it….it’s why is has a sweetish slightly acidic flavor. Earl Grey was basically spawned from the lack of then Primo Ministrony’s lack of taste buds.
Now while on the subject of the British blunders, lets talk about English Breakfast Tea. This seal-proclaimed English Tea isn’t even English to begin with. It was invented in Scotland and is a combination of various types of black tea which give the final product a floral slightly toasty scent. Yeah, can you tell i’m not a fam of so-called English Tea’s yet? I’m more a fan of authentic deliciousness.
Wait…did I just say Authentic Deliciousness? Yes I know I capitalized those two words, I did it because this is important now. The king of all teas is without a down Oolong tea. Neither green not black, no raw grassy taste to it due to the leaves being briefly fermented…it contains a sweeter aftertaste and unless you’ve tasted it before, you just won’t really understand how complex and simple the taste is all at once. It’s, perfection.
Those are almost 10 of the more popular teas, but again, there are many, many more, so knowing them, tasting them and understanding their unique characteristics will only make you a better tea lover!
Oh darn, my father The Tea Connoisseur has requested I make an honorable mention of Pu-Erh Tea. The majestic Pu-Erh is made along the lines of tea, fermented twice, pressed into teacakes and allowed to mature in a bamboo basket for decades. It’s expensive but try it at least once in your lifetime, you won’t regret it.
That’s it folks, more than just ‘tea’ to being a tea drinker. Don’t you agree? Enjoy whatever tea you’re drinking, and remember, tea bags are the workings of the devil. (j/k)