Monday, October 11, 2021

How to smell tea?

In case you missed it, here is the video of my tea class this weekend. The subject of the scents of tea leaves has generated a lot of interest. So, I will do a part 2 the coming weekend and focus on how we smell the tea brew!

Tea leaves are usually smelled in 3 different places:
- on a plate,
- in the preheated teapot,
- in a jar.

The worst place to smell a tea is in a plastic foil and that's why I don't even mention this possibility! Some plastic bags can have a strong plastic smell, and even if they don't, I find that they contribute to diminish the intensity of the scents of the dry leaves. So, what is the best place to smell the dry leaves? I would say on a glazed porcelain plate, because you get to combine the senses of sight and smell, and because the tea won't be too much impacted by the quality of the plate. However, if the question is what is the place that brings out the best, the finest, the most intense fragrances of tea leaves, I would not hesitate and say a traditional porcelain tea jar, glazed inside and outside, of high quality.
This Jingdezhen qinghua jar from the 1980s is like a thin wine glass. The glazed porcelain is the best material to handle the light scents of tea with precision. The round shape concentrates the aromas at the opening and this adds intensity.

The effects of this jar are almost magical. The tea seems so much better and purer than on a plate or in a bag. Especially with roasted Oolongs, it helps to reduce the overly roasted aromas within minutes. It works like a decanter for a young red wine! If you want to show how important the right accessories are, just compare the scent of the same tea in its plastic foil and in this jar! Some of the people who made this experience with me wondered if it was really the same tea they were smelling!

And for the long term, this qinghua jar also protects the leaves from humidity and helps them to improve slowly, but surely.

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