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Tea School Tuesday – Understanding the Organoleptic Experience – Week 2

Week 2 of Understanding the Organoleptic Experience focused on how we perceive flavor, the basic tastes, and mouthfeel. Our reading material started out with an in-depth discussion of color as it relates to tea. The chemical changes during enzymatic and non-enzymatic browning were presented in an easy to understand way. Structural formulas and video lectures really helped me to visualize each step of the process.

The second section covered how we perceive flavor. Bitterness, sweetness, astringency, and mouthfeel were all discussed at length. As someone who regularly tastes and evaluates teas for reviews, I found this portion both fascinating and useful. I know how to taste these things but understanding the chemicals behind each of them provides context.

Our first assignment tested the differences in extraction between infusions. The instructions were to brew each tea three times. As we tasted the infusions we had to rate the intensity of different flavors on a sliding scale. In many ways, I prefer this style of tasting versus traditional sensory evaluation sheets.

The second assignment asked us to cup kukicha green tea. I then had to taste that same tea after putting a small amount of salt on the tip of my tongue. The difference was crazy! I don’t want to give too much away but this is one exercise that you should definitely try for yourself.

The classroom assignment had us repeat the steps with a black tea of our own. I used a BPS from Ceylon since I figured that would be on the bitter side. The salt definitely made a difference with this tea too.

3 Things I Learned This Week

  • Experience lowers the threshold for perception. As you experience teas you will become more aware of flavor details.
  • Astringent compounds are almost always perceived as bitter, but not all bitter compounds are perceived as astringent.
  • The greater the amount of light reflected by the surface of the tea in the cup, the brighter the tea. Some laboratories use instruments that measure reflectance to determine the quality of teas.

In case you missed it, make sure that you check out my post about week 1 of this course! Next week I will post about the final week of Understanding the Organoleptic experience.

Course provided by World Tea Academy. Opinions are my own.

My name is Nicole and I love tea...a lot! I have been writing about my love of the leaf since 2008. My work has been featured on World Tea News, The Daily Tea, Tea Journey, and other publications. I am the winner of the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog.