Tasting Tea: Taking it Deeper than “Vegetal”

by Tony Gebely 2

One way that people describe green teas (not just green teas, just using it as an example) is by using the word “vegetal” — meaning that the taste reminds them of the taste of vegetables. One quick tip to take your tea appreciation to another level is to see if you can figure out which vegetable it reminds you of.

Use this as a guide to help you find the exact vegetable:

Does it smell/taste like a leafy green?

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Lettuce

Does it smell/taste like grass?

  • Fresh Cut Grass
  • Dry Hay

Does it smell/taste like a root vegetable?

  • Carrot
  • Radish
  • Yam
  • Daikon

Does it smell/taste like a stem vegetable?

  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Kohlrabi
  • Rhubarb

Does it smell/taste like a brassica?

  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

Want to take it one step deeper?

  • Does it smell/taste like a cooked or raw vegetable?
  • How does the smell of the dry leaves differ from the smell of the wet leaves?
  • Does the smell of the liquor resemble the smell of the leaves?
  • What do the leaves taste like after steeped? Eat ’em!

Have any other tips or suggestions? Feel free to respond below in the comments. Thanks! Note the same can be done when describing a tea as having fruit notes.

Tony Gebely

Tony has been studying tea for over ten years and has traveled to many tea producing regions throughout Asia. His book, "Tea: A User's Guide" is available now.

Comments (2)

  1. I like anything that encourages specificity.

    I just got some tea that tastes of kelp. So perhaps we may add ‘sea vegetable’ to the mix.

    Kelpy tea is not delicious.

  2. Tony, I like your ideas here about taking tasting and scenting a little bit further. Because as you make the point, it really is specific. Thanks for the post. Cheers

    Kim- Da Cha Teas

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