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QTrade Teas & Herbs provides specialty teas, herbs, spices, custom blending, product development, and private label services to businesses all over the world. We are the largest importer of organic teas in North America, with an expanding selection of flowers, fruits, and berries. (949) 766-0070 www.qtradeteas.com

Tea Basics 201: Professional Tea Tasting

The difference between tasting tea professionally and brewing tea at home comes down to one thing: volume. When you make a perfect cup of tea at home you are doing so for your own pleasure and enjoyment. When you are tasting tea professionally you are checking for quality and flavor on a much larger scale. As a result, it is necessary to use a method for comparing large volumes of tea without getting water-logged.

This is why we use a professional cupping set.

This set and the method that accompanies it was developed by the British tea-auction system over a century ago and has been set as the industry standard ever since. A proper cupping set includes three pieces:  1 cup, 1 lid,  and 1 bowl. A spoon, a kitchen timer, and a bucket or spittoon are also useful for tasting teas properly.

Step 1: Weight, Temperature and Time

This is the most important step in the process. The most valuable tea in the world can be ruined if it is not prepared properly. Weight,  temperature and time vary according to the oxidation level of the tea. In order to ensure quality and consistency QTrade uses a standardized method for tasting teas.

White tea, Black tea, Blends, and Herbal tisanes are brewed at 2 grams for 5 minutes at 208 degrees Fahrenheit. Green tea is brewed at 1.5 grams for 3 minutes at 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Oolong tea is brewed at 3 grams for 3 minutes at 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the pre-weighed tea to the cup and pour the hot water over the leaves until the cup is full. Place the lid on the cup and set your timer.

Step 2: Examine the Dry Leaf

Rosewater Tulsi

While the tea is brewing take time to examine the dry leaf. You want to pay attention to the shape and color of the leaf, as well as whether or not the tea contains sticks or foreign particles. Pick up the leaves to smell them and feel them with your hands. See how brittle or springy the dry leaves are.

Step 3: Decant

This step requires a bit of dexterity. Being careful not to burn yourself on the hot cup or to drop the lid, tip the cup over into the bowl to allow the liquid to escape, but not the wet leaf. The teeth at the edge of the cup opposite the handle should keep most of the wet leaf from entering the bowl, especially if you are brewing loose-leaf tea.

Step 4: Examine the Wet Leaf

Shake the cup to spread the leaves around, then gently open the lid an smell inside. What you are smelling is called the “essence” this is the aroma given off directly from the leaf itself. Take special notice of the associations the smell of the wet leaves make in your mind. Write these down for further analysis. Once you have smelled several times, flip the cup over so that the wet leaves fall onto the lid. Feel the texture and the springiness of the leaves once again.

Step 5: Examine the Liquor

Color is an important part of a tea’s presentation. This is one of the reasons that a traditional cupping set is made from white porcelain, it sets the tea’s color in high relief. Take special note to compare the tea’s color to other teas you are tasting in the same session, make notes to analyze their differences. Smell the liquor as well.

Step 6: Taste

The final step takes the most practice. Dip your spoon into the liquor and raise it to your lips. Slurp the tea off of the spoon and into your mouth as quickly as possible. The idea is to spray the tea to all of different tasting areas of your tongue at once. Pay attention to the way the tea feels in your mouth. Once you have swirled it around a bit, spit the remaining tea out into your spittoon.  We spit the tea out so that it is possible to taste several teas side by side without having them influencing one another by retro-olfaction, and so large numbers of teas can be tasted in succession.

QTrade sells professional cupping sets in addition to high quality loose-leaf teas. Contact us for more information.

Have questions about this post?  Suggestions for future posts?

Please leave us a comment below!

www.QTradeTeas.com | (949) 766-0070 | info@qtradeteas.com
16205 Distribution Way, Cerritos CA 90703 USA| www.TeazeInfuser.com

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