How to drink tea
To enhance its flavours, the tea should be brewed by scrupulously following the infusion table indicated on its packaging (amount of tea, amount and temperature of water, length of brewing time).
The water should be neither too hard, nor too soft. It is therefore preferable to use pure or filtered water (avoiding tap water).
Tea should be enjoyed hot, without sugar, milk or a slice of lemon, as these neutralise the antioxidants contained in the tea, which carry all their health benefits.
Depending on the material it is made from, a teapot will reveal the flavours of tea differently.
There are two kinds of teapot: teapots referred to as "memory" teapots (made from terracotta), which retain the flavours of teas brewed in it and "non-memory" teapots (made from cast iron, porcelain or glass).
are called memory teapots as they remember all the teas they have brewed. These types of teapot develop a dark-coloured coating at the bottom of the teapot after prolonged use. If this kind of teapot is preferred, a different one should be used for each type of tea, if not, a strong tasting tea could overpower the flavour of any teas brewed in the pot thereafter.
non-memory teapots, are known for their ability to keep tea hot for long periods. To ensure this, the teapot should be rinsed in boiling water before adding the water which will be used for brewing the tea.
In all cases, a teapot should never be washed with soap. It should only ever be rinsed in clean water. Then, simply wipe the outside and turn it upside down to allow the inside to dry naturally. Dishwashers should be categorically avoided, since the products they use are too abrasive.
How to drink tea
Connoisseurs know that a good tea should be enjoyed like a good wine. It is not unusual, in China, for certain grand cru teas to fetch exorbitant prices, reminiscent of some of the best wine vintages!
A master of tea, much like an oenologist, will advise that tea should be tasted by following a number of stages:
Smell the tea
This stage allows your sense of smell to explore the bouquet of the tea. The scent of the tea should be committed to memory and its aromas absorbed.
This should be a peaceful and relaxing moment. Ideally, the eyes should be closed to concentrate better and to fully experience the serenity invoked at the moment of tasting.
Observe the mouthfeel
Take a small mouthful of tea and roll it around the mouth to try to find the aroma experienced during stage 1. This stage uses both the senses of taste and smell. Use your taste buds to identify the fullness and body of the tea.
The nose, capturing the vapours from the tea, should confirm your initial impressions during stage 1.
Identify the tea’s characteristics
This stage confirms the impression gleaned during the second stage. Click the tongue on the palette to reveal the fullness of the tea and to pinpoint the tea’s characteristics of taste (bitterness, sweetness, etc.).
Feel the taste at the back of the throat
Concentrate on the sensation on the last part of the tongue (the closest to the throat) and at the top of the throat. This stage indicates whether the tea “answers”, that is, if it has a lasting bouquet.