Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tea 101

There is so much to learn about the world of tea and it would take an entire lifetime to know everything. One question we get at A Spot For Tea is about how to choose and buy tea. Our staff is trained to help guide you through the task of our 50 tea selections.

It's always a good idea to taste it, just like wine. We have a large tea menu that comes to the table just like a wine list. We always have a sample being served everyday at the front by the register. We have a description of the tea being sampled.

In my opinion, you should buy small quantities (2 ounces) to start with - unless it's a particular favorite. We have some customers that know what they love and now only buy (4 ounces) at a time. In general, buying smaller bags of tea is better because of freshness.

How it Looks
The first thing that you should notice about tea is how it looks. You probably already know that the whole leaf is preferable to CTC, or Cut Torn Crushed 'tea' dust that is put into many bags and if leaves are broken, it probably means that they were harvested by machine. Broken leaves sometimes gives a bitter tea. We don't sell bags of tea at A Spot For Tea only loose leaf tea is served and sold here. Ask to see the dry leaves. We have all of our teas available to see and sniff.

How it Smells
After the tea has been infused, good teas will give out a delicious aroma. The most important thing is that there should be some smell, whatever the tea, even in the dry leaves. Flavored teas should retain their essential aroma even after infusion. When we do tastings we allow the customers to compare the dry leaves and the wet leaves.

Taste is Choice
As with any food or drink, taste is ultimately a personal preference. Tea should never, ever taste stale or flavorless and, if brewed properly, should not be bitter. The best way to taste tea, like wine, is to slurp in order to allow air to mix with the tea and enhance the flavor. When we got our Tea Certification from the Specialty Tea Institute at the World Tea Expo this was a particular fun sight to see and hear with all the students using the slurping technique in one big room.

Ultimately, whatever tea you buy depends on your own personal taste. We have some customers who prefer floral (Rose Petal) while others are into organic (Assam) and still others like a sweet note (For the Love of Charlotte). You can visit our website and click on our Tea List for all of our wonderful tea selections.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 34:8

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