Hosting a Tea Tasting

April 9, 2012 by Bruce Richardson

An informal tea tasting can be a great way to share your tea knowledge—great or small—with friends or family.  Here are a few easy scenarios that I often use when speaking at tea events across America. You can do the same!

Display dry tea leaves when sampling.

Meet the Tea Families

Prepare white, green, oolong, and black teas for sampling. Start with the lighter teas and make your way toward the black. This gives you opportunity to share the fact that all teas come from the same plant; it’s the manufacturing process that determines which family they will join. It could be an a ha! moment for your audience.

Three Great Tea Regions of India

Prepare representative Darjeeling, Nilgiri, and Assam black teas. Be sure to have a map handy to show the geographical locations of these famous tea growing areas. A bit of information about the term “flush” is always helpful, so prepare a few notes about the harvesting seasons and how they influence the taste of teas.

Classic Teas of China

No country’s teas are more varied and complex than China but you can begin a Chinese tea discussion with several familiar examples that have become classics for western consumers. Those might include Silver Needle (white), Lung Ching (green), Ti Kwan Yin (oolong), and Keemun (black.) Again, a map of China is handy to illustrate the geography of these teas.

Green Teas from Around the World

A majority of the tea imported into America in the 19th century was green tea with 40% of it coming from Japan after our Civil War. Now every major tea producing country exports green teas in order to meet rising demand.

An exemplary sampling might include gunpowder from China, sencha from Japan, American green tea from the Charleston Tea Garden, and a green tea from either Sri Lanka or Kenya.

These are just a few examples of the selections you can put together. Don’t make the sessions too long or too complex. Make the tasting informative and delicious so that your guests will be motivated to infuse more tea into their lifestyle!

Prepare your notes with information found in The New Tea Companion.

Author: Bruce Richardson
Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

MSN calls Bruce Richardson "A leading tea expert involved in tea's American renaissance for over 25 years." The native Kentuckian is a writer, photographer, tea blender, and frequent guest speaker at tea events across the globe. He can often be found appearing on television and radio talk shows, or as a guest speaker at professional seminars such as World Tea Expo and China Global Tea Fair. He is the author of over a dozen books on the subject of tea. Mr. Richardson serves as Tea Master for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.