A tea drinker can have a quite uncritical palate and yet derive enormous enjoyment from tea; knowing how to tea-taste in any formal sense is not a prerequisite to appreciating it. But having some discrimination about what you sip from your teacup heightens appreciation and thus makes tea drinking more rewarding and interesting.

Tea tasting is a way of exploring the world of fine tea to become aware of the characters different teas have and to learn to distinguish the difference in quality among ordinary, fine, and superlative teas. The kind of amateur tea-tasting we advocate falls far short of the experience, practice, and skill necessary for professional tea-tasting but it will without doubt enhance your enjoyment of tea and can be as interesting and entertaining as wine-tasting, coffee-sampling, or cheese-nibbling.

Professional tea tasters are more concerned with evaluating tea quality than appreciating it, but these two aspects of tea tasting are closely allied. A description of why and how then experts taste helps tea lovers understand what they can learn from even very simple comparative tastings.