Monday, 16 May 2011

Cup of Tea Tasting

Let me start this by saying that before I went to this tea tasting I knew nothing about tea, only that I like herbal and green. I think it's safe to say that afterwards, if I didn't have a memory like a sieve I would pretty much be an expert. My friend Georgie invited me to to go with her by sending me this link on face book and although I have loads of uni work still to do, I couldn't really resist.

I said before that Georgie is doing a chocolate diploma and she is also training to the a Tasting Adventure Host for Hotel Chocolat, so as part of her training she had to try another tasting experience to relate it to chocolate. So, you might think this is a bit mad and that chocolate has nothing to do with tea, but we discovered it does. My first experience of chocolate tasting was on a 3 day course when I first started Hotel Chocolat, and I loved it (who wouldn't) we tried various types of chocolate and learned how to properly taste it by smelling, snapping and eating. And my last chocolate tasting was of the Hotel Chocolat purist range with my manager, which really is interesting as they taste so different because of where they're grown, the type of bean and weather conditions. Although I couldn't take the tasting that seriously because the manager kept saying umami (I don't know why I found it so funny) and Hamwee (asparagus wee). So yeah, in relation to chocolate, some teas are single origin (beans or tea leaves only come from one area) and the process, such as fermentation affects the flavour.

I think I went off on a bit of a tangent there, so on to the tea. Christine who led the tea tasting really was an absolute authority on tea. We really liked this as you can tell that they are really passionate about the product they sell and that their teas were really top notch.

The first ones we tried were first and second flush darjeeling which basically means the first and second harvest, apparently there are 4 per year so the first one is somewhat coveted! And I'm not surprised really, Christine said it was like the Champagne of tea and it was definitely my favourite.

As I said my memory is like a sieve so I can't remember some of them, but I know that next we tried was assam. I definitely didn't like this one, we had the CTC version which you find in super market tea bags without milk and sugar. I don't like it anyway but without milk it was like drinking metal infused water. But luckily we got to have some lovely earl grey after, which was better than any I've ever tried before, really citrusy and fresh.

Then we moved on to oolong, white, green and herbal/fruit teas. I've never tried oolong or white tea before, but they were both very delicate, and as I discovered on saturday, I'm a fan of delicately flavoured teas. So, yeah, it was a very interesting day and I think if anyone is interested in tea its a great thing to try.


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