(MENAFN - Jordan Times) The aroma and flavour of olive oil are the key elements in its tasting and assessment, but its colour is not, an expert in olive oil tasting said.
"Olive oil is one of the few foods that have an official tasting method to appreciate the aroma and flavour," said Santiago Botas, a Spanish expert in olive oil tasting.
He noted that a panel of eight to 12 experts affiliated with the International Olive Oil Council (IOC) based in Madrid judge the aroma and flavour of olive oil to grade it.
Olive oil's "unique aroma and flavour depend on the olive tree variety, soil and cultivation", the expert explained in an interview with The Jordan Times, noting that there are more than 2,000 olive varieties across the world.
In Jordan, there are two main varieties of olive, Nabali and Souri, said Botas, who was a consultant on an olive oil project in the Kingdom 10 years ago.
"Each olive variety produces oil with different qualities," he elaborated.
In terms of flavour, some varieties of oil are sweet and mild, while others have a robust bitterness.
"One can feel the sweetness in the tip of the tongue and the bitterness in the back of the tongue," Botas said.
As for the aroma, he noted different oils can have different smells of fruit, vegetables and olive leaves.
The expert, who came to Amman to give a workshop on olive oil tasting organised by the Instituto Cervantes, dispelled the myth that the colour of oil is used to measure its quality.
"Some people think that the colour of the oil is also important, but it has nothing to do with quality or flavour," Botas said, adding that professional olive oil tasters sample the oil out of blue containers so that they cannot prejudge the oil from its colour.
Meanwhile, Antonio Garcia Rios said the intake of two teaspoons of olive oil a day is beneficial to health.
He noted that a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil helps reduce LDL ("bad cholesterol") levels and, perhaps more importantly, stimulates an increase in HDL ("good cholesterol").
"Olive oil also lowers the incidence of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases as well," Rios said at the workshop.