TEA101 – Tasting Language: Direct & Indirect

TEA101 – Tasting Language: Direct & Indirect

Making sense of tea means, among other things, learning to better talk about the experience of tea tasting. Here again, we can borrow some wisdom from the world of wine. Below are some ideas from the book “Wine: A tasting course” by Marnie Old.

Basically, when we describe a tasting experience, we can choose to go in two different directions: direct or indirect descriptors.

Direct descriptors are Quants. They are concrete and go straight to the point. They describe the sensory characteristics of key aspects of tea – dry leaves, wet leaves/infusion, liquor – as objectively as possible. Their strong points: limited in number, convey less personal bias, are highly effective in comparative analysis, help facilitate two-way communication. The weak point: they are boring. They don’t tell a story.

Indirect descriptors are Poets. Here, we are in the world of metaphors and subjective features. Strong points of indirect descriptors: they help to tell a story, are highly effective for motivating sales, aid one-way communication. There is no limit to your freedom of expression, as long as it makes sense to you – but beware of their weak point: they may not make sense to others, or even worse, can be disorienting or even unappetizing.

Neither approach is right or wrong, they are just different. We need both. And more often than not, we combine both. My personal view is that you have to master the basic direct lingo and then let your creative vibes and imagination flow…

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