Tea has made a distinguishing mark in world trade; and brewing a perfect cup of tea has been worked out to a fine art.
Until the early part of the 19th century wholesalers and retailers marketed unblended tea. This method was impractical for consumers as the quality of the tea varied with each consignment. Thus evolved the practice of retailing a blend with a pre-set formula to offset seasonal and other variances in characteristics, providing the consumer with the same cup of tea throughout the year. This demand for a certain standard to be maintained throughout the year was what created a new breed of professionals known as Tea Tasters.
The distinct skill is not totally inherent in a tea taster, but could be learnt over a period of time and practice. This skill enables him/her to differentiate the subtleties in any particular tea. Tea tasting has been compared to wine tasting, and does share some similarities; this skilful profession requires an individual to have a delicately discriminating nose and palate, and good eyesight. Experienced tea tasters have these senses of sight, taste and smell developed to the highest possible level.
To taste tea in a professional manner one requires the basic equipment of a tea taster, which are:
|A tea tasting set – includes a tasting bowl and a specialized brewing cup with a lid.|
|A weighing scale – to measure accurately an exact 3 grams of tea.|
|A tasting spoon – which is essentially a spoon similar to a soup spoon but is deeper in order to hold more volume of liquid.|
|A spittoon – to spit out the tea that you taste.|
A timer – to brew tea for 3 or 4 minutes precisely.
It is possible to taste with or without milk, though tasting without milk is desired for sharper judgement. Sweeteners however are strictly prohibited.
Basic Tasting Techniques
- Take a spoonful of tea to the tasting spoon.
- Place the spoon on the edge of your lower lip.
- Take an inward short and powerful breath of air that will spray the tea into your mouth. The aim here is to spray the tea so that it will hit the back of you palette.
- Once the tea is sprayed into your mouth you then move it around your mouth, sucking in further short bursts of air, in order to release the more delicate characteristics inherent in the tea.
- Once you have tasted the tea you spit out into the spittoon.