Palais des Thes in New York City offers a simple introduction to the complex world of tea. This meticulously curated Soho tea store creates an approachable and unique environment for casual drinkers and tea connoisseurs. Their introduction to tea and tea tasting offers a basic road map starting with a delicate Chinese white, followed by a vegetal Japanese green, a lightly oxidized Chinese oolong and finishes with a robust Indian black.
Our tea tasting guide Cynthia led us through each tea like a fine wine. We first smelled the wet tea leaves setting the stage for our initial taste. Each tea had their own notes and flavor profile with words like nutty, grassy, earthy and astringent being used to describe the mouth feel and flavors that permeated the tongue with each sip. As we tasted the teas Cynthia would bring other examples to the table for us to smell and compare. It became an education for all the senses. It was also an ideal way to discover how to properly brew each variety for the optimal cup. Classes’ specific to green and black tea are also offered as is a grand cru tasting which focuses on the highest quality and most sought after teas.
Tasting included the following teas:
Bai Mu Dan – Chinese White Tea (8-10 min seeping time at 175◦)
Sencha Ariake – Japanese Green Tea (2 min seeping time at 170◦)
Bao Zhong Imperial – Chinese Oolong Tea (6 min seeping time at 203◦)
Darjeeling Margaret’s Hope – Indian Black Tea (4 min seeping time at 195◦)