One of my favorite finds and biggest purchases from the World Tea Expo last year was The Scents of Tea. This aroma kit was created by Virginia Utermohlen Lovelace, M.D. and Scott Svihula of Hula Consulting. Some of you might remember how much I loved Virginia’s book, Three Basic Teas and How to Enjoy Them. I had heard of aroma kits before and always wished that something like that existed for tea.
What is an aroma kit?
The premise of an aroma kit is to train your senses to detect the aromas commonly found in a beverage. They are used by wine sommeliers but I’ve seen kits made for whiskey, beer, sake, and coffee. In theory, training your brain to recognize the different aromas will enable you to better identify what you are tasting.
What Comes Inside
I preordered the Starter Kit with 32 aromas but later upgraded to the Professional Kit with 45 aromas. As part of the preorder package, I received 2 bonus scents for a total of 47. Each aroma kit includes:
- Vials of aromatic chemicals
- Bamboo storage box
- Tea Scent Fan™
I was impressed with the quality of the materials and the level of detail that was put into this. Both the guidebook and flashcards contain information that you would have a hard time finding elsewhere. I was drawn specifically to The Scents of Tea because they use the actual chemicals found in tea. I felt that this gave me the best chance of nailing down what I experience in the cup.
The Tea Scent Fan™ has been particularly useful. It is similar to the flavor wheels that are commonly used but also includes info on the type of tea each aroma is found in. I keep the large fold-out version on my tea station for easy reference. There is also a mini version in the flashcard deck, perfect for when you are tasting on the go.
How I Use It
I keep my aroma kit in a hallway of my house that I pass through frequently. When I have the time, I stop to take a sniff of one of the vials. I will try to figure out what the scent is before reviewing the flashcard to see if I am correct. One of the flashcards has a fun learning game so I will sometimes use that to really test my skills. My husband even likes to join in sometimes. When I ran into Virginia at the Chicago Tea Festival, she recommended combining aromas to take it to another level. Once life returns to normal, I’d love to get together with some tea friends to experiment with this further.
Have you ever used an aroma kit? Do you think it would improve your tea tasting experience? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
You can find out more about The Scents of Tea here.