It was the most intriguing invitation. And upon RSVP-ing, I got this more intriguing response, “You’ve said you’re up for some blind tea tasting! So I spent last night filling envelopes with a selection of (hopefully) delicious teas…” Several days later I received a white paper package from the UK. Inside were 6 brown paper packets. The first five, labeled A – E, had one unmarked and indistinguishable tea bag inside. The 6th, labeled F G H, had 3 hand packed tea bags of loose leaf tea.
My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to conduct a tasting of each of the 8 teas provided, complete my review of each, including score and overall ranking, and send all of my thoughts, photos, etc. back to be considered with the other blind taste testers.
I’ve been a tea drinker for lo these many years, and the thought of an actual blind tasting was exciting. I’ve taken a tea cupping course (think of formal wine tastings – the descriptive words they use, the slurping, the spitting – it’s really quite similar), but I’ve never had this opportunity to compare my taste buds and tea preferences to anyone else.
One by one, I steeped the tea in my special cupping set. One by one, I slurped, considered, slurped again, jotted notes on color, flavor, what it made me think of, and whether I liked it or not. On a scale of 1 to 10, the lowest score I gave was a 3. I gave two 10’s. All were black teas. All were similar yet very different. I kept thinking, “I wonder if the reason I like this so much (or am unimpressed) is completely different from the ‘experts.'” I’m dying to know.
In a way, I feel that my credibility as a tea enthusiast could be at stake. What if the teas I enjoyed the most were thought of as mediocre by the rest of the group. Or what if the ones I found to be either thin or Lipton-esque are actually the fan favorites. The anticipation is killing me.
But then I must remember, for me, tea is about a moment to pause. A way to regroup, to reconnect, to re-energize. Whether my amateur taste buds agree with the great tea palates of the world is not of great importance.
But it will sure be interesting to find out.