As part of my 2021 goal to increase my education on tea, I was approached Mona from TeaWala to try out her Taste Tea Like a Professional Course. I started extremely dedicated to the course, but as my job got more hectic, my MBA program heated up, and getting surgery, this course sat on the back burner. After feeling felt stuck in some routine of tea tasting and wanted to figure out a better way to enhance my tea tasting experience, I got motivated to finish the course and enhance my knowledge. This course definitely helped me and gave me some additional practices to takeaway to incorporate into my everyday tea practice. Here are my thoughts on the course!
Takeaways from the Course:
1. Looking Further into the Tea Leaves & Understanding the Quality
I heavily used Mona’s tasting sheet that helps you dive into all the intricacies of the tea (I actually heavily considered buying her tasting journal, and still might). I found myself enjoying looking at the teas and especially some of the quality markers that she mentioned throughout the course.
2. The Tasting Process & Improving How I Taste Tea
The process of examine, smell, brew, smell, and then taste stuck in my brain. It has helped me look at the quality of teas and have higher-quality sessions overall.
3. Understanding more of the Nuances Behind Tea from Certain Regions
I find the idea that different regions can cause different variances in aroma and taste a very interesting idea. It is one that I want to dive into further, especially in regards to sheng puerhs. Identifying the different regions by taste along is something that really only a skilled professional like Mona could do, but I do want to start the journey to a similar skill and knowledge level.
Highlights: Deeper Dive into the Five
When White Hair is a Good Sign: White Tea & Quality Markers
I decided to brew a silver needle tea while watching this section. While sipping on the tea during the comparison section, I was able to determine that the silver needle, while not terrible quality, could be much better. The leaves had a slightly less green cast to them and I noticed that the buds were a bit elongated (possibly plucked too early?) when I separated them. I was able to look at the little white hairs on my leaves, and I saw small hairs floating in my tea (which is actually a good thing!). But compared to the tea that Mona brewed in this section, my own silver needle tea did not compare. I thought it was amazing to get that knowledge and be able to directly apply it while drinking my own tea during the course.
Why Ming Qian & Shincha Matter: Green Tea & Quality Markers
I did not have many of the teas that were talked about in this course, but I did brew a lovely genmaicha. However, I used the tools from this section to help determine the quality of the Sencha in my genmaicha. Before this course, I never looked that far into the leaves of my teas, especially green. I also did not have as much information about Chinese Green Teas vs Japanese Green Teas. I find it so interesting and while I realized that there were differences in Chinese versus Japanese green teas, it was so much clearer seeing everything come together with this course. Since taking this section, I have been on the lookout for a few of the teas she has talked about and might consider trying them to experience more green teas that I have never consumed before.
The Toughest to Master: Semi-Oxidized Oolongs & Why Elevations Matters
When watching this section, I brewed one of my own Tie Guan Yins to see if I can both learn about oolongs and then practice what I was learning. I will not disclose what tea brand I had but I was able to determine that my Tie Guan Yin was most likely machine-made, and seems to be the Jinxuan cultivar instead of the Qingxin cultivar. The leaves were a bit of a giveaway since they were rounder than the Qingxin cultivar. Even with it not being the highest quality tea, it was still really nice to sip on and try to figure out where my tea fit in. It was the second time during this course that I realized that I was drinking tea that was demonstrated to be the lesser quality. I think this is going to make me more aware of the tea when I am drinking them, and it was extremely interesting to learn about the different regions for oolong and how differences can result in a different kind of tea. The changes in the leaves from more higher quality (hand-processed) instead of lower quality (machine-processed) were also a takeaway from it.
The World’s Most Popular: Black Tea & Tasting Terroir, Blind!
I brewed some black tea from Darjeeling while taking this section. I will say, while I loved the knowledge of the terriors and history behind black tea, I wished there was an additional section discussing quality of black tea (besides the tea bags vs loose leaf section). I would like to know what I should be looking for when looking at a high quality black tea in regards to color, leaf size, etc. However, I do know that it is extremely variable on type of tea that I would be consuming.
Yunnan’s Ancient Tea Trees & Why Some Pu’er Cakes Are Sold for Thousands of Dollars
I pulled out a 1999 Shou Pu’er from Vietnam when watching this section. It was interesting because of a lot of this section was targeted towards Sheng pu’er, so it was a bit harder to relate to much of this section while drinking this tea. However, in the region pu’er tasting, I was able to visibly see the difference between sheng and shou in cake form, and compare it to my own that I had. Although I do enjoy sheng pu’ers I definitely drink more of shou pu’er. This really made me want to cup all of my sheng pu’ers and try to identify the specific regions where they came from based on profile.
Pricing: This course is $149 for lifetime access to the course. There are 9 chapters with additional resources like pdfs, interactive quizzes, and the option to join a private Facebook group, open journaling sessions, and a couple one-on-one chats with Mona herself. The other option is to get access to the class, corresponding teas, and a journal (with the other perks as well) for $165. I think this option has great value because you can taste the teas she is speaking about along with the videos, enhancing the experience.
What other kinds of tea education courses are you interested in? I found this one to be quite easily understandable and well done for new to well educated tea drinkers! Happy Brewing!