Unless tea is being sniffed or slurped, it cannot speak for itself. Because of
this, tea relies heavily on its loving human caretakers to relay its wonders to
the world (and potential sippers.) Whether you are creating packaging, a menu or
a website, the descriptions given to your teas can make or break their sales.
We can talk about origin, provenance, health benefits and other distinctions to
describe a tea, but the visceral connection will always be to the palate. To put
it more plainly, how does the tea taste?
Tea tasters in the classic sense have their own parlance that, while helpful
within their small circle, does not connect effectively to the intended
audience. We have to take those descriptors and translate them into better-known
sensations to convey the wonder of each cup.
Very often when reading about tea varieties on various media, we are dazzled by
various points of notoriety about a tea but the nuances, notes and texture are
not provided. Describing the taste also helps to manage expectations of the
consumer as novices can confuse varieties or don't know what to look for when
brewing and cupping without an expert present.
When writing descriptions, be sure to use examples of familiar food items to
help the consumer understand the tea. One classic association is the lovely
sweet, lightly roasted chestnut notes in a Dragonwell. Even if the reader has
not ever eaten a chestnut, they still might get the idea of what the tea has to
offer. Similarly, a good Golden Monkey will offer cocoa notes, hints of black
currant and a red wine-like richness.
Fortunately, the wine industry does a great job of offering a spectrum of taste
descriptors from which we can usually borrow various terms. It might help to
look at a wine aroma wheel to fill your adjective arsenal.
There is also an ancillary benefit from doing so, in that you will also help
your customer build a vocabulary to better describe their likes and dislikes
when they ask for suggestions.