In Japan, China and other parts of the world, tea drinking is one of the crucial moments in life. However, to get the best taste out of the herbal drink, there are a set of guidelines that someone needs to follow to the latter. Tea slurping is one of the practices that have attracted a lot of concern among tea enthusiasts across different divides.
To some people, the practice is annoying and a huge turnoff. They perceive it as a form of ignorance and idiocy that one needs to partake of only behind closed doors, at the comfort of his or her homestead. However, to some, the distinct and unique savoury taste of tea lies in slurping. Running away from the practice only makes the flavour of the herbal drink bald. If you are hearing this for the first time, then there is a lot more for you.
What is tea slurping?
Tea slurping is the act of taking the drink noisily by sucking both the air and the tea inside your body. For first-timers, you can easily choke while doing it. However, to the veterans, a simple act follows simple guidelines to partake of.
How to slurp a tea
Tea slurping is nothing complicated. It is a science that follows a distinct step. Once you have mastered the steps, you can go ahead to taste and gulp the herbal drink like a pro. However, before jumping to the conclusion, here are the simple facts you need to know.
- While slurping, let the tea roll over every taste bud on your tongue map
- Don’t shy off. The louder the slurp the better the experience
- Be keen not to let the drink drool from the mouth. That is unethical and contrary to basic table manners when drinking tea
- Take an adequate amount of tea. Do not overload your mouth.
- Use tea accessories such as pee-pee boy to test the temperature of the tea first to avoid burning.
Once you have mastered the five guidelines, you can then have your first slurp through these three simple steps.
1. Smell the tea
It is a common belief that tasting any food relates to placing or passing the delicacy over the tongue. That is not 100% ultimate. The tongue can only taste five flavours; bitter, sweet, acid, salty and umami. Umami is the savoury taste linked to tea and other types of drink.
On the other hand, the smell can be used to determine over ninety different kinds of taste. By smelling drink, you are giving the brain time to digest the existing types of taste in the drink hence enhancing your general body preparedness towards enjoying the brew. However, smelling of tea demands etiquette. It does not mean poking your nose in the drink and inhaling the hot scent. Sit at close proximity with the cup of tea. Keep the head just above the cup and deeply inhale the resultant scent. While doing this, keep the concentration at the peak. By doing this, the brain is given ample time to absorb the scent without any hinge.
However, when alone, you can try the dog action method to efficiently sniff the brew. This method requires that you take swift and shallow inhalations while maintaining the drink as close to the nose as possible. It takes the form of a panting dog.
Having inhaled the scent of the drink, it is now the time to take a sip of the wonderful brew. This is the most crucial and most important of all the procedure. It is what determines whether you will tap the taste of the brew or not.
Take a small sip of the tea and let it rest on your tongue for about 5 seconds. Once the sip is on the tongue, take a deep breath through the nose with the mouth tightly closed. Keep the concentration of the mind on the task beforehand. This enables the whole of the body to adjust to the changing tastes of the tea.
Pucker up the lips and swallow the tea down. While doing this, separate the lips to produce the slurping sound. The sound should be as higher as possible.
If you find this procedure to be daunting, you can go the shortcut way. This option demands that you put the cup of tea near the face as possible. Then, pucker the lips as if you are about to give someone a romantic kiss. Use the puckered lips to draw the drink from the cup with a suction force. In the process, take a deep breath through the nose and let the lips loose by producing a loud noise.
Once the tea rests just above the tongue, release the breath slowly. This is commonly known as retro-olfaction perception. Pay sheer attention to the varying degrees of tastes while doing this. Once you have mastered the whole procedure, then you are well off. You can now practice even more to well versed with the process.
What are the benefits of slurping tea?
The slurping of the tea is not all about the taste. Once you have mastered the art, you will realize that it comes with a bunch of benefits that include:
1. Cooling the tea
Sometimes you may not have the time to let the tea cool. On other circumstance, you may lack the equipment to cool off the tea. By letting the tea rest on the floor of the tongue and letting in the cool air through the nose, the tea will be cooled off quickly. Higher expertise leads to even more and faster cooling. This makes slurping the best weapon to protect the throat and the oesophagus from getting burnt whenever you are taking a hot tea.
2. Oxygenating the drink
Adding some bulk of oxygen to the drink not only gives it a more flavourful taste but also the energy required for different body functionalities. The extra compounds work the same as in the case of pricey tequilas when exposed to air. Oxygenation and cooling usually take place during the intake of air using the nasal cavities. The more you hold your tea over the surface of the tongue, the more it will get oxygenated. And, of course, the more flavourful it becomes.
3. Coating all the parts of the olfactory
The olfactory consists of a complex palate that is key in deriving all the five aforementioned types of tastes. When slurping the tea, the organs in the mouth will spread the tea over the tongue and the olfactory. This enables you to taste all the types of flavour in the tea without letting off any out.
Is slurping unethical?
Before we wrap up the whole thing, it is advisable to know whether the process is moral or unacceptable. It is also advisable to know when to slurp the tea and where exactly you can feel free to slurp your tea without any worry.
Slurping off the tea in countries such as China is highly acceptable. In this country, the practice is a norm observed even by the royals. Being a pro in slurping tea here means you understand the way of tea. While traversing the major tea houses in China, you will often come across different kinds of noise emanating from different corners of people slurping their tea. And, as the saying goes, when you go to Rome, do as the Romans. You are free to slurp your tea whenever you are in the country.
However, Japan and other major tea hubs do not accept the practice. They perceive the noise that comes with it as irritating and that which turns your drinking counterparts off. Whenever you are in this country, do not try this practice. Though it is not punishable, it is morally unaccepted. Therefore, the only place you can feel free to slurp your tea while in Japan and the other rest of the world in the confines of your house.
Other morally accepted methods of taking tea
Even with the moral laws, there are other civilized and quieter ways of taking your tea without missing out on the potential benefits of slurping. You can do this by:
1. Slowly sipping the tea
Keep the cup of the tea as close to the mouth as possible, and slowly draw in an appropriate amount of the fluid into the mouth. To avoid burning lips, make sure that the tea is warm and not too hot.
2. Lock the mouth
Having taken an appropriate amount, you go ahead and lock the mouth. The mouth doesn’t need to be puckered. Do it in a modest manner that doesn’t show anything as far as having something in the mouth is concerned. Then, go ahead and swallow the tea down your drinking funnel. Do not open the mouth yet. This help in sealing the aroma of the tea.
3. Breathe in slowly
Once every tinge of the tea is gone, gently take in a deep breath through the nasal cavity. While doing this, keep the mouth closed as possible. This process opens up the olfactory and lets the aroma reach every part of the palate. You can then gently breath out for the reverse retro-factory process to happen.