- My previous experiences with teas of a similar style
- The commercial description of the tea
- The aroma and appearance of the dry leaf
- What I've read about the tea from others
- Contextual clues -- i.e. a paper tea bag that's been sitting around somewhere, I expect to be stale, or sometimes the visual design on the packaging leads me to expect certain characteristics from a tea.
I want to share two particular teas as examples: one that met my expectations very closely, and another that threw me for a loop.
One tea that met my expectations very closely was a Makaibari Estate Darjeeling First Flush from Arbor Teas. What set my expectations here? I know Makaibari estate, and I know that their teas have a particular character to them; I know that first flush tends to have a particular character, and I had a favorable impression of Arbor Teas at selecting good batches of tea, from what I was reading online. And when I tried it? It was very similar to how I expected it to be, and it was outstanding.
To contrast, a tea that really surprised me, was the Jade Oolong, also from Arbor Teas. This was my fifth review of a Taiwanese jade oolong, and up until this point, the teas I had tried all had a more-or-less similar character. The aroma of this one was much more woody, a characteristic I had only encountered in more-oxidized oolongs, mostly Chinese oolongs, at this point, and the aroma also had elements of spearmint and thyme, something I would not expect at all in this style. It also was much less floral than I was expecting. I also want to note that I don't think it matched the commercial description at all. I picked this example because my experience in this tea was not better or worse than I had expected, just different. There are, of course, numerous teas that I liked much more or less than I had expected, and perhaps I can share some at a future time!
What about you? Do you write about expectations when you write your tea reviews? (From reading other tea blogs, I think most people do.) What are some teas that have most closely met, or most glaringly failed to meet, your expectations?