Wine and tea have many similarities in terms of planting, making and tasting. In 2020, Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES)* in Taiwan has officially launched six ‘Tea Flavour Wheels’, based on the fermentation level in order to describe the unique tea flavour. It covers the basic taste and mouthfeel on the palate. It also highlights the strip-shaped or ball-shaped tea leaves and the colour of tea infusion. This comprehensive list is a useful tool for tea connoisseurs, professionals, merchants and consumers.
For centuries, Taiwan is recognised as one of the greatest tea producing regions in the world. Taiwanese teas are described as ‘Fine, Rare, Diversity’. Different from the green tea in Japan, black tea in Southern Asia, Pu’er tea in China, Taiwan is famous for Oolong tea which has unique flavours on the nose and the palate with long finish.
Wine and tea flavours can be both described as floral, fruity, vegetal, nutty or toasted (in wine)/roasted (in tea). This results from different levels of fermentation and tea making methods. Tea leaves may be rolled or roasted, which gives extra depth and complexity to the tea infusion. More than 100 flavours can be described in teas. Some unique Asian flavours and characteristics can also be found in the Tea Flavour Wheel.
Based on different fermentation levels in tea making, the Tea Flavour Wheel can be divided into three categories: unfermented tea, partial fermented tea, and fully fermented tea.
Unfermented tea, which is popular in Japan. China produces large quantity of Green Tea for international markets. Taiwan produces high quality Green Tea, sold mainly in the domestic market. It gives significant grassy and bean flavours on the nose and a sweet sensation on the palate (wheel pictured top).
Fully fermented tea, the largest tea production and consumption worldwide. Mainly made in South Asian countries such as India. Black Tea is popular in Western countries, the Middle East and Asia. The history of Black Tea from Taiwan can be traced back to the end of the 19th century. It is named ‘Formosa Black Tea’ and sold in many countries. Black Tea can show the fresh, ripe or dried fruit characters. Taiwanese Black Tea usually brings a sweet sensation on the palate.
Partial fermented tea, which needs more complicated treatment as part of the tea making method. Taiwan is famous for Oolong tea. Therefore, the Tea Flavour Wheel for partial fermented tea is developed into four major types. They are considered as Taiwanese Speciality Teas. They are named as ‘Fragrant Strip Type Paochong Tea’, ‘Fragrant Ball Type Oolong Tea’, ‘Heavy Roasted Ball Type Oolong Tea’ and ‘Oriental Beauty Tea’. This is the result from different leaf-shapes, roasting level and special treatment during tea making.
Oolong Tea gives attractive floral and fruit flavours based on the level of fermentation. Heavy (high) fermentation gives peach, plum and sometimes tropical fruit notes like lychee while light fermentation gives more orchid, white ginger lily and pomelo blossom aromas. Premium Oolong Tea also gives a delightful sweet sensation on the finish. Oolong Tea may deliver nutty flavours according to the roasting levels during the tea making. Strong and delicate honey flavour on the nose and the palate can be detected in Taiwanese Oriental Beauty Tea. This type of Oolong tea is one of the specialities in Taiwan.
Six Tea Flavour Wheels from TRES would like to bring a new experience to tea lovers while enjoying teas, especially Taiwan Specialty teas.
Note: Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES), Council of Agriculture in Taiwan is credibility and sole tea research centre in Taiwan since 1903. TRES helps tea farmers for plantation and tea making. It also analyses tea components and research on different subjects of tea production.
Do not hesitate to download and use the Six Tea Flavour Wheels, please visit TRES website.