The New Year is soon upon us (in those parts of the world following the Julian Calendar) and what better way to celebrate that steeping up some teas for friends and family to try! Here’s how to hold a New Year’s Tea Tasting.
- The Preliminaries — the obvious date is December 31st but that day might already be booked for many folks, so think about holding the tea tasting on December 30th or even January 1st or 2nd (you can promote it as a way to detox after all that alcohol they consumed when toasting the New Year in); the obvious location is your house unless you happen to own a tea shop, tea room, or café.
- The Tea Selection Process — now’s your chance to open up that pu-erh you’ve been storing for a few years, or you can bring out some rare yellow tea you’ve had still sealed in its airtight pouch (go ahead, it should still be good as long as you’ve kept it in a fairly cool place and sealed), or set out an array of oolongs to show the range they encompass (from the pouchongs to those that are almost fully oxidized). The goal here is not only for you to demonstrate some fine teas to your friends but also give yourself a treat. After all, you made it through another year and are now beginning the next one!
- The Tasting Room — if in your home, don’t be shy about holding it in the kitchen (these days so often when we have guests over they all end up in there anyway), especially if your house has one of those open floorplans; if that doesn’t work for you (if you have a really small kitchen, for example), pick a room with enough space for the number of people you are expecting to show up (in our case it would be the dining room/library with its round table that can seat six comfortable and eight if they really know each other well – hee!); if you have another location, just be sure there is plenty of table space to lay everything out and enough comfortable seating for everyone. You will need a way to heat your water, such as a stove, hot plate, or electric kettle.
- The Tasting Setup — how you proceed will depend on where you are holding the tasting event and what teas you selected for the event; basically, though, you need something for heating the water (kettle, Pyrex measuring cup, electric kettle), something in which to steep (this can vary widely depending on your preferences and the tea(s) you are serving, and something to serve the tea in. A tea boat is also a good option.
- Some Tea Tasting Atmosphere — A bit of mood music, some candles or other mood-setting lighting, even the right wardrobe can enhance the whole experience.
- Greet Your Guests — When your guests arrive greet them at the door, take them into the area prepared for the tea tasting and make sure they are comfortable. You may want to have a little spiel ready about the tea(s) to be tried so your guests can have a more full appreciate of what they are about to experience. And making a few resolutions to enjoy more fine teas during the New Year is in order here.
May all your tea tastings be great ones in the year ahead.