Tea tasting is usually viewed as a specialized art. People pay steeply for tea tasting workshops. Large tea companies such as Lipton employ professional tea tasters in order to maintain the consistency of these blends, which combine different teas whose characteristics vary seasonally. Connoisseurs of rare and specialty teas may taste dozens of teas in a single day. Michael Harney of Harney and Sons boasts tasting typically 80 teas a day.

A brand new way to taste tea?

But there is also an alternative way to approach tea tasting--one that's accessible to anyone, requires no training, and has health advantages which are often missed by other approaches to tea tasting. To appreciate this approach we ought to understand the purpose of our senses of taste and smell.

What is the purpose of our senses of taste and smell?

Humans have an expression of taste and smell to make sure that we eat foods which are healthy and avoid substances which are poisonous or harmful to our health. On a simple level, issues that are edible and nutritious taste good and issues that are toxic or harmful taste bad. However, anyone residing in our modern society knows that there surely is more to taste than this oversimplification. Some foods initially taste good but are bad for people, and on one other hand, a great deal of healthful foods and drinks, including many teas, are referred to as having an acquired taste.Something having an acquired taste often tastes unappealing when you check it out, but begins to taste better with time as you consume more of it.

"Acquired tastes" help humans locate healthy food and drink:

The phenomenon of acquired tastes serves to cut back the risk of poisoning by ensuring that after we encounter something unfamiliar, we just check it out in small quantities. The human body and mind employ complex feedback mechanisms linking our digestive system and other biological systems to our memories of taste and smell. If something gives us a sense of well-being and nourishment after eating or drinking it, we gradually be more comfortable having its flavor and aroma and develop a liking for it. If it makes us sick or unwell, we become averse to its flavor and aroma.

These issues are relevant to tea tasting both because many teas have an acquired taste, and also because tea has both positive and negative health effects. Tea, especially green tea, is usually touted for its health advantages, including antioxidant activity, cancer prevention, stress reduction, antimicrobial activity, and promotion of a healthier immunity system and healthy intestinal flora, among many other benefits. But these benefits vary greatly from variety of tea to another, and tea can also have negative effects on health.

Just how do health advantages of tea vary from tea to tea?

Darker teas contain tannins, that may interfere with the absorption of iron and other nutrients. Tea contains caffeine, which in excess could cause or contribute to sleep disruption, addiction, anxiety, and other negative effects. Some teas are acidic, which is often rough on the stomach, especially for those struggling with acid reflux. Flavored and herbal teas are much more diverse with regards to both their positive and negative health impacts. Furthermore, different people vary widely inside their susceptibility to these health effects.

Tasting teas so as to maximize your health advantages:

Tea tasting, and in particular, developing acquired tastes for teas with time, gives us a tool to solve this problem. By tasting teas with time, we allow our taste to adapt based how the tea makes us feel. Teas that produce us feel balanced and healthy can come to taste easier to us, and we can come to dislike (and thus avoid) those who make us feel unwell.

 

Published by Charlesa Gibson