23 Feb 2016

Coffee vs. Tea // part II

(Part I)

Since this whole blog is about tea, it wouldn't make much sense to insert an "On Tea" section in this multipost. Instead, I'll proceed to try to boil down (he he) the properties and associated subjects I consider to be important and well comparable concerning coffee and tea, and then maybe later arrive at a conclusion.
So this part will be titled

The most important, or at least the most salient feature. Most people will probably decide between tea and coffee depending on their taste preference. But it's not really the simple two-pole situation one might expect. When trying to force such a description though, you might imagine something like this: 

Note: the cup designs are not mandatory.

But another division would be just as legitimate, wouldn't it?

Depending on what "team" you're in, you might also say something like "coffee is exciting, tea is boring" or "coffee is gross, tea has real flavour". Now, like announced, these are approaches I'd declare as really incomplete. At the coffee bar I work at, we try to bring forth the differences of growing region and all the treatment steps of coffee, so I think it per se to be forbidden to bring it down to one description. I borrowed a graphic from Barista Hustle by Matt Perger, coffee world champion/blogger/experimenter/explainer, to show the range of espresso flavours (although a bit confounding with mouthfeel here):

And that's just the main sensations you can get. Neither starting with the more interpretative flavours, such as red berry, lemon, chocolate, almond, hazelnut, jasmine, honey, etc.pp., nor covering the filter coffee terrain here.

Then there's also this milk thing. As I stated before, that's not much my thing, but very popular it definitely is. I find that a bit odd, as it raises the question if people really like coffee or if they actually just like milk. I won't include this here though.

Of course, you don't always get to find many details in coffee. But the same goes for tea, so I think it makes more sense to negotiate on the "skilfully made" level with both drinks.

As for tea, I'll only write about real tea, i.e. made from camellia leaves, thereby trying to emphasize that tisanes and other stuff just shouldn't be included when forming an opinion about tea. Of course you're also not allowed to bring tea down to one single description.
Somehow comparable to the different ways of processing tea, there are infact different methods of when and how to free coffee beans from their fruit, dry them and ferment them, but in the end you always get coffee, always roastable and grindable differently for the extraction method of choice. Tea leaves, on the other side, roughly can be processed into at least 6 different styles who differ quite strong from one another, and which can later not be used for the same range of beverages each. I've tried listing the main flavour/sensation categories congregating in the different types:

I hope you can read anything. I also didn't mention concrete flavour details in this, but here's a sample again: apricot, orange, lemon, apple, conifers, grass, grapes, roses, chocolate, nuts, caramel, herbs, etc.pp.

While this sounds sort of similar to the coffee flavours, I find the difference to lay in the proportion. Teas tend to taste really different from one another because their characteristics dominate the flavour, while coffee, at least in my opinion, always mainly tastes like "coffee", and the characteristics are more subtle.
So much for that. I tried to save my judgements for the last part. The next part will be about preparation and convenience.

Thanks for reading!

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