Sunday, 7 March 2010

Questions? Tea tasting in Dießen am Ammersee

Took a daytrip towards the mountains yesterday and stopped halfway there at the Ammer Lake in Upper Bavaria. Had packed map, dogs and tea into J’s car and we were off. Once we got there, it was unbearably cold by the water, so we sat in the car and did a comparison of the two Assams I’d brought along.

He asked me a few things on our drive. I’ll answer what I can right now, and find out the rest and post it here when I know it. He says he's heard to rinse the pot with boiling water before preparing the tea. Right?

Definitely. I used to think this was ridiculous and still don’t bother doing it with green or white tea. I’m convinced when it comes to black tea, though. It has to be steeped as HOT as possible. Some call it a rolling boil. So preheat your pot with boiling water, before you pour rolling, boiling water over the tea (Sounds like a Sousa March, eh? The March of the Rolling, Boiling Tea).

Next question: how long? This one is embarrassing for me because I was one of those people who told myself I like strong tea, so I’ll steep it a long, long time. Truth is that this doesn’t make the tea stronger. Instead, it only makes it bitter. Here, I have to plead ignorance and say that I was misled by a friend in Hertfordshire. Whenever I visit him, I watch him drop a bag of Tips in his large mug and let it stay in there for ten minutes (or more). I thought 10 plus minutes was normal for black tea. It’s not.

Four to Five minutes (closer to four) is best for most black teas. Anything more and you’re not getting stronger tea. Bitter tea isn’t stronger.

As for our taste test? We compared Assam Mangalam and Assam Khongea. To us, they were both perfect for the blustery weather, but indistinguishable. Guess I need to drink more tea to be able to make that comparison.

The photo is of the little tea shop near the station in Dießen am Ammersee. It was closed. It was Sunday, after all.


  1. I'm learning things about tea I never knew I needed to know.

  2. Seems to me that the biggest variable in tea tasting is the tea preparation. Even the best tea will suffer from too short or too long steeping, or too cool water.

    For taste comparisons to be valid the prep needs to be exactly the same.

    Are there terms in tea tasting similar to the terms used in wine tasting? Terms that others are familiar with can make comparisons and descriptions easier to understand.

  3. Yes, definitely. There are many terms that tea tasters use that you start to employ as soon as you read enough descriptions of tea.

    Take a quick look at and you'll see some of them.

    You needn't join the site to move around in there and get a feel for it. Let me know if there's anything else. Enjoy.