You've ever noticed how your teaware, or glassware for wine affect the taste of your tea.
来源：Austin Yoder 2013/11/01 发表于 The News Lens 关键评论网
Photo Credit: 陈镜 CHEN-CHING 翻译／红凯利
How does teaware influence your tea?
People who drink wine will understand that the shape, and material of your glass influence how you taste a beverage. Riedel, the Austrian glassware company has built a relatively large commercial empire by researching and producing glassware that helps to bring out the best in each varietal of grape. Champagne glasses are tall and narrow, and syrah glasses are wider rimmed, and more bowl shaped.
One of the questions we get on a semi-regular basis is whether or not teaware makes as much of a difference for the taste of tea as glassware makes for wine.
The answer is a definite yes, for many of the same reasons that shape matters for glassware. What's interesting about teaware is that it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as different materials. Where most wine is consumed from glass, tea can be consumed from glass, ceramics, clay, etc.
So what factors in teaware matter?
The Shape of Your Cup
The shape of your cup influences the way that you taste tea, because it controls the way in which you smell your tea. The Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago says that 90% of what is perceived as taste is actually smell. Just like with wine cups, the size of the rim of your cup, the angle at which it opens from its base, whether it is flared outward or inward, all affect how you taste.
If you're drinking out of a tall and narrow teacup, something more like a whisky tasting glass, the smell will be funneled in a very concentrated channe
l straight into your nose. Incidentally, this is why aroma cups, or 闻香杯 are tall and narrow, and not flared at all.
Aroma cups are paired with drinking cups because they are helpful to smell the tea up front, though they don't allow for much air to mix with your tea, which you really want for a full on tasting experience.
Isn't it cool that there are cups specifically designed to help us break the smelling and tasting experiences down separately?
When you aren't specifically focused on smelling, and you're ready to dive into taste, a wide rimmed tea cup or tea bowl is called for.
A wider rimmed cup, something which opens up from the base at a rapid rate, allowing hot air carrying scent from the infused tea to diffuse leisurely through the air. With a traditional tien mu bei (天目杯), you'll get a more relaxed, more gentle sense of the scent of a tea.
Where a full set of stems from Reidel might give you eight or twelve shapes to play with, there are essentially unlimited shapes and sizes of tea cups. Those who love the accessory side of wine and understand how important your wine tools can be for your end results will be in heaven when they begin exploring the wide wide world of teaware.
Outside of shape, the material of a teacup makes a tremendous difference as well.
Material: Glass Vs. Ceramics Vs. Clay
The major difference between these three types of materials is their degree of imperfection.
Glass is almost perfectly smooth, which is why it is used to consume wine. With a perfectly smooth surface, the liquid of your tea or wine has nothing to bump against, and it smell and flavors remain fairly compacted. It is a neutral material.
Ceramic teacups, like the white one above, are the most basic type of teacup you can find. Because ceramics are glazed, they are also very smooth, though they have imperfections – tiny bumps and dents in the surface of their glaze coating. The tiny imperfections in the surface of this glaze mean that tea has to bump into, and rub up against many micro-sized obstacles on the journey from inside the cup to inside your mouth. As it bumps into and tears up against these tiny imperfections, the liquid opens up. Sort of like waves crashing into rocks, where the water sprays everywhere and foams up into whitecaps. The difference being that instead of ocean water, it's the smell and flavor crashing into and opening up against the ceramic walls of your teacup, giving you a slightly more open sensory experience than you would have with glass.
The most interesting aspect of clay teaware is that it is porous. Just like the skin on your body has pores, allowing you to sweat, clay has pores which help your tea to breathe, in a manner of speaking.
These pores are tiny imperfections in the surface of the clay – holes, bumps, indentations, scratches etc. When you pick up a clay tea cup and put it up to your mouth, the liquid inside has to crash and bump into these small imperfections. Because the imperfections in clay are much larger than those in the glaze coating on a ceramic teacup, you might think about the process like a bunch of little knives and daggers cutting into the liquid surface of your tea, ripping it open, releasing more smell, more flavor right into your nose and mouth.
Although none of the imperfections in a teacup made of glass, ceramic, or clay are visible (or easily visible), the difference can be quite striking when you taste the same tea side by side. When we taste through the same tea brewed for the same amount of time at the same temparature, where the only varaible is the material the teacup is made from – what we find is that we get a much bigger, fuller, more open aroma and flavor from the clay teacup than we do from a glass or ceramic teacup. Those imperfections in the clay help us to experience a more robust mouthfeel, and more extended finish in our tea.
These differences have an effect on what we use to taste tea at different times and under different contexts. When we're tasting a new tea to score up for the first time, we use glass as we want to experience just the tea itself. When we're doing a demonstration of different teaware for our friends we use all three. Generally if we're drinking at home for pleasure or with our families, we use clay, as it gives us the type of tasting experience we most enjoy.
All types have their place, and are worth exploring.
Question of the Day
We'll be writing up a detailed description of a recent tasting we did with a local ceramic teaware artist soon, but the question of the day today is whether or not you've ever noticed how your teaware, or glassware for wine affect the taste of your tea or wine?
Sourse：Austin Yoder 2013/11/01 The News Lens
Photo Credit: CHEN-CHING 陈镜