One of my favorite past times is doing research (I’m a self-proclaimed information junkie; always have been, always will be). Lately I’ve been indulging in two of my favorite hobbies; tea AND research! In preparation for our next Little London Tea Society event I’ve been studying the black teas popular in the UK. Doing lots of reading about the growing regions, processing, and taste. Focusing on the quintessential British breakfast blends, Earl Grey, and the teas created specifically for the soft water of Scotland, etc…
Tea is complex, maybe even more so than wine. In fact, James Norwood Pratt (a.k.a the world’s “tea sage”) was a well-respected wine critic in San Francisco. After realizing the unhealthy relationship he’d developed with wine, he gave it up and fell in love with tea. In his book, The Ultimate Tea Lover’s Treasury he states tea, like wine, “are agricultural products which can be works of art. We love them both for how they make us feel”. Like wine there are international sommelier certification programs. These experts are trained in many aspects related to tea – from the environment where its grown, to tea blending, pairing tea with food, tea cultures, and so much more.
Next comes the slurping, this is where you do the following:
● Scoop up some of the liquor in a spoon
● Take a deep breath
● Pucker up like you’re going to kiss someone
● Slurp the liquid into your mouth (the louder the better)
● Breath through your nose while keeping your mouth closed, then swallow.
The slurping causes oxygen to mix with the tea and brings the flavors to life. During the cupping you identify the tail notes (after taste), these are the ones that linger with you after the liquid has passed from your mouth. This final stage often indicates the complexity and, in some cases, the quality.
We hope you will join us at a future Little London Tea Society to learn more about tea, culture, and tradition. Don’t be afraid to sniff and slurp with us, we understand.