What Makes a Great Black Tea Bag?

High quality Iced Tea from tea bags should have a discernable black tea aroma and flavor intensity, defined by characteristics that may include any combination of hay, tea leaves, grass, smoke, tobacco, toasted, floral and woody/stems aromas and flavors.  The specific aroma intensities should be similar to the intensity of each respective flavor. The complexity of these flavors and aromas adds to the overall quality of Iced Tea.

There should be some bitter taste, but it should not overwhelm the black tea flavor. If a sour note is present, it should remain at a barely perceptible level so as not to compete with the intended flavor intensities. Also, the tea may have a low sweet intensity, especially if floral is present.

A moderate level of astringency and low mouth weight are expected.

There may be some minimal cloudiness in appearance. The red and brown color intensity of the tea is stylistic.

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Tasting terms

  • aroma

    The smell that emanates from food. Along with appearance, texture, flavor and taste, aroma is one of the five dimensions used to evaluate a product. Example: Brownies should have an aroma that includes chocolate as well as egg, toasty and sweet notes.

  • flavor

    A combination of a food's basic taste and its accompanying aroma, flavor is the distinctive taste of a food or ingredient while it is in the mouth. Along with aroma, appearance, texture and taste, flavor is one of the five dimensions considered by ChefsBest Master Tasters. Example: Chocolate chip cookies should have a moderate chocolate flavor accompanied by a slightly lower level of complex dough flavor that includes egg, flour, vanilla and brown sugar notes.

  • flavor intensity

    A measurement of the strength of a flavor in a particular food. Example: High-quality chocolate will have high cocoa flavor intensity.

  • grassy

    A natural flavor or aroma suggesting grass. Example: Green tea, olive oil and some dairy products can have grassy notes.

  • floral

    A natural, flower-like aroma or flavor. Example: High-quality vinegar, vanilla, honey, Mandarin oranges and dark chocolate can all have floral notes.

  • sweet

    One of the basic tastes; often considered pleasing while exhibiting characteristics of sugar. Example: Honey, ripe fruits and syrup all have a pronounced sweet component.

  • astringency

    The tendency of some foods to cause the mouth to pucker; often associated with the presence of tannins or acidity. Example: Red wine, tea, grapefruit juice and pickles can be astringent.