While teas often leave taste memories on my palate, mind and heart, I've realized that it could be complicated to store every sip. Enter the tea journal. Filled with scribbles of new tea-infused recipe, my tea journal is truly there to capture tasting notes. Beyond the first sip, there are so many sensory experiences to note. Share the name of the tea, the name of the tea company, the date (when you sipped it and the harvest-if you know it). Note the preferred steeping vessel (glass pot, gaiwan, yixing pot). Start with the dry leaf (its appearance and its aroma). Note the water temperature and brew time (often you will have many versions as you test to see which temperature and time brew your favorite cup). After you strain the leaves, take a closer look at the wet leaf and consider the new aroma after being steeped.
Now to the steeped tea liquor. Note its color, the aroma and the taste of the complex flavors. Capture how they might change with subsequent sips. Do they build complexity? What is the aftertaste? Really try to take a moment after you swallow the first sip to let the steamed flavor settle on your taste buds. Yes, this may sound a bit strange. Although, once you have taken the moment to breathe after the first sip of a high mountain oolong or milk oolong, you'll understand why this is such a splendid part of the tea tasting adventure.
A tea journal is very personal. No one is judging your descriptions or your favorite way to steep. Maybe you prefer a lighter infusion or a brisk sip? The purpose of each note is to share what tea matters to you most. I recommend keeping the printed pages petite so that you can easily tuck it into a favorite bag or even in your back pocket (if you prefer your world to be mini).
Be creative. Leave space for food pairings, memories or quick thoughts. While quietly resteeping a jade oolong, I instantly had a deep appreciation for the ever changing natural world and scribbled this sentiment on the page: Tucked within these semi-oxidized leaves from Taiwan were traces of the land from that particular spring in 2012. Nuances of bright, fresh flavors were completely unique within these particular leaves. And as I slowly moved into the 4th, 5th and 6th steep, I tried to remember to take a moment to appreciate how the flavor changed each time. I paused to let the taste and aromas settle on my palate and dance about as the warmth of the steamed sip floated throughout my mouth.
As you begin to build your tea journal, take the time to flip back through the pages and peek at your steeped adventures. Appreciate every sip and every moment, and be sure to share a few of your favorite finds within the comments below. Happy Steeping!