Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Better Teas Have Less Flavor

If you haven't yet learned this base fact about tea, then now is the time. You may have found yourself quite pleased by the emboldened flavors of cheaper, less quality teas, only to be disappointed when you took a leap to the next tier (probably in price), by a definite lack of flavor-bursting pleasure. This is no surprise to the experienced drinker who understands that better teas have less flavor.

While a bold statement, it holds 100% true, if we are to define the level of flavor by the profoundness upon which the main flavor greets us. However, to shift this definition to the allowance of a complex, post-introduction, intellectual investigation into the flavor profile of a tea will move us into the realm of connoisseur. What is meant by this long-winded definition is that a truly flavorful tea, in the connoisseur's eyes, will have it's live, main flavor, followed by complexities such as other milder flavors, mouthfeel, and even chaqi, which give the tea a wealth of character and an engaging profile.

The goal of every tea-loving person should be to try to find these complexities and understand in their own way what these flavors and feelings impart onto a teas true character. Is it their terroir, or something more distinct? The most difficult part of becoming a knowledgeable tea taster is to get a foothold on these things. Terroir, mouthfeel, and chaqi are very interesting aspects of drinks that will slip right by you unless you take the time to find out what they are. But once able to identify them, you'll enjoy tea on a whole new level, and understand why better teas actually have more flavor.


Adam Yusko said...

While I agree that better teas are more complex, I feel you can have a really good tea that still has a very strong flavor. Though I am thinking very specifically of a few Puerh tea's I've had.

That being said I feel it would be hard to describe that very strong flavor in terms of one well known flavor.

But in terms of most other types of tea, I agree better teas often have less of a grab your attention very strong flavor, and are quite subdued but full of a variety of flavor.

Glad to see you back and writing Wes.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree! I like drinking "plain" tea, especially green and white teas. And I especially don't like it mixed in with other things, whether that be sugar, milk, or flavorings. Those completely destroy the subtle flavors.

Laetitia Jin said...

I always like to have tea that taste bitter. If I taste any water I wouldn't like it at all :P

Matcha Green Tea Powder said...

Good post. This holds true with Matcha in particular, whereby better quality matcha is used to make 'koicha' - a thicker matcha drink that uses more of the powder per cup, and the lesser quality matcha is used to make 'usucha' - a thinner matcha drink that uses less powder per cup. This is because the poorer quality the matcha, the more bitter it is to taste, and therefore less should be used. Better quality matcha has more subtle flavours and therefore more should be used to help pull these flavours through.

Green tea lover said...

is it bad to drink green tea everyday? i heard milk will destroy all the antioxidants in green tea. Is it true?

Marilyn said...

Enjoyed your explanation here. Better teas do have more nuisances and are much more pleasant to be enjoyed. A tea lover in Portland.

John Magne said...

Quite frankly I find the assertion to be utter nonsense. The current penchance for teas with lighter taste among the would-be aficionados is purely a fashion thing. The same trend can be observed in preferences of other things, like coffee, infusions or even cheeses. Light = refined = sophisticated - and of course we all want to be sophisticated.

Had the assertion been true it would mean that all the great Assams, most of the classic Ceylons and many, many more wonderful teas, all with long histories and carefully cultivated over a couple of centuries and more, would be inferior.

Believe that if you will, but it hardly makes you sophisticated; just a misinformed wanna-be.