Similar to the wheels used for wine or beer, the aim of the tea flavour wheel is to associate perception with a label. In general, they are much easier to use than an alphabetical list but the full list of tea terminology can be off-putting for beginners (e.g. cherry wood, cedar, hard wood, soft wood, cut wood, pine, maple).
For this reason I’ve developed the wheel below. We work from the inside out. The innermost circle in this wheel has words that relate to mouthfeel (watery, velvety etc.). The inner aroma circle has a broad description (vegetal, earthy, sweet etc), and the outer circle has a little more detail.
I’ve found that this level of detail works well when people are starting out with tea tasting.
Normally, I’m all about quality of product rather than appearances but every so often that gets turned on its head. Take this set called “The Art of Tea” which was bought in South Africa. I’ve been reluctant to actually use any of the product inside but the primary motivation for buying this set was the attractive packaging.
Having said that tea degrades over time. Even though I didn’t buy it for the tea, it makes no sense to search high and low for the freshest first flush Darjeeling with the quickest shipping time and yet keep all of these (including one Darjeeling!) for over two years. It’s getting opened today, starting with the rooibos.
Here’s what’s inside:
- Kenya Malaika (black)
- Darjeeling (Indian black)
- Genmaicha (Japanese green)
- Jade Mountain (Chinese green)
- Snow buds (Chinese white)
- Jasmine pearls (Chinese flavoured green)
- Earl Grey (Indian flavoured black)
- Sakura (Chinese flavoured green)
- Chai (flavoured black)
- Sweet dreams (herbal)
- Rooibos vanilla
- Forest berries (fruit infusion)
It can be difficult to get tea gifts that are well packaged but this one certainly stands out. I think I paid around 200 ZAR (around €20 at the time) for the box. Good value considering anything similar that I’ve seen here costs double that.