Getting nosy with tea
When I first began seriously pursuing tea, one thing odd that I had to learn was to stick my nose into the infused leaves. I had grown up amidst tea gardens of Darjeeling, and drank tea all my life, but until I entered the tasting room of a tea garden professionally 10 years ago, I never had thought of participating in the ritual of tea physically with my nose.
However, the oddity and the awkwardness of having a few leaves cling to the nose tip, was removed when I immediately realized, upon the act of “taking a nose,” that it did indeed open up a rich dimension. Various nuances that are normally hard to pinpoint in the liquor stand out vividly in the infused leaves. It was a revelation! For example citrusy notes leap from tea that comes from Mirik Valley of Darjeeling, where orange fields abound; traces of orchid line the tea from middle elevation gardens, while hay notes filter through in tea from lower down. You can feel the “burn” of a summer afternoon or the “cool” hours of the morning, and intuit when the tea was plucked. I have “smelled” the sweet spring waters found in the high ridges of the Senchel Forest Reserve - the water-catchment that irrigates a big swathe of Darjeeling tea growing region - and in some, inhaled the viscous notes of lemongrass and mugwort that abound in Organic tea gardens.