Looking for fresh ideas for your next get-together with friends? Be the host with the most by setting up a tea tasting party for your guests. Party-goers have likely never experienced the peaceful (and tasty!) experience of preparing tea with intention and they might not even be familiar with high-quality tea leaves. The novelty of many of our teas and the focused sensory experience of tasting them will make this party an absolute hit.
1. Gather The Essentials (Including your guests!)
Obviously, if you want to have a tea tasting party, you’re going to need tea. You probably have favorites from Art of Tea, but make sure you grab an assortment of teas to try. Try to grab a green tea, a white tea, a black tea, a pu-erh, an oolong, and a black tea. Bonus points if you go even deeper, selecting a Japanese and Chinese green tea, Silver Needle and White Peony, Chinese and Indian black teas, and a lightly-oxidized and heavily-oxidized oolong.
Next, make sure you have plenty of filter bags and vessels from which to serve your tea. You’ll also need small paper cups (or an assortment of teacups!) for your guests. You could also go all in and pick up a full, Professional Tea Tasting Set. Keep in mind that you’re going to want to rinse out all teaware between teas, so plan accordingly!
When putting together your guest list, you’re going to want to keep your event small. Invite no more than 10 people so you can all sit together as you taste your teas. Pay no mind to whether your guests are “tea fans” or not. Even if a guest prefers coffee, they can still enjoy a tea tasting experience! In fact, they might even find that they enjoy the roasted or smoky flavors present in some teas.
2. Prepare the Right Kind of Snacks
We talk about pairing foods with teas often, but when the focus is tea, you actually want to avoid flavorful foods. In fact, the less food the better. Tea is the star of this event, so don’t distract your palates too much. If you must serve snacks to keep stomach grumbles at bay, look for bland snacks like plain crackers or cookies. Definitely avoid foods with artificial or lingering flavors as they might interfere with your tasting.
3. Give Your Guests the Tools They’ll Need
If your guests find a tea they love, they’ll want to remember what it was called! Provide note cards and pens for your guests so they can write notes throughout the night. You can also make a worksheet that lists the types of teas, where they’re from, what kind of tea they are, and then leaves space for additional tasting notes.
The most important tool you can share with your guests is your knowledge! Brush up on your tea knowledge by reading through our Tea 101 guide and blog or by watching our informational videos. You can also find information on each tea (including tasting notes!) on the tea’s product page.
4. Steep, Sip, and Enjoy!
When preparing your tea, make sure you pay attention to water temperature and steeping times. If you over-steep tea, you might negatively alter its flavor. Let the tea cool a little before serving it to your guests. Then, taste the tea by “slurping” your tea. This allows for the liquid to aerate and pass over every part of your tongue. Make sure you note the different flavors and aromas you experience. After each tea, talk about what you taste. It’s always interesting to hear what others sense!
Move through each tea until you have a better understanding of which teas you liked and dislike. Just like at a wine tasting, you’ll find that you’ve discovered new teas that you might not have tried otherwise. And you’ll have treated your guests to an experience like no other!