How to do tea tasting?
Professional tea tasting session is a ritual to compare the different varieties or batches of tea to understand the “good” and “bad” points of that tea. The procedure and the rituals are mostly identical across the countries. Three things are typically evaluated in the process: the dry leaves, the infused leaves and the liquor of the tea after steeping. Typically, each column is represented by one variety/batch with the dry leaves being in the front, the liquor in the middle and the infused tea leaves at the back. Each cup has 2g of tea leaves with 100ml of water at a controlled temperature (depending of the type of tea). The brewing time varies with the individual tea, but the professional usually allows a longer brewing time to bring out the characteristics (including the defects) in the tea. The tea taster often disregards the side effects, especially the extra bitterness, due to the longer steeping time. For the liquor, the taster focuses on the color and clarity of the liquid, the effect on his/her palate, the flavor and the aroma. The taster also evaluates the dry leaves and the infused leaves particularly for its texture (suppleness, degree of homogeneity etc.) and appearance (shape of the leaves, harvesting skills etc.). I learned about tea tasting in Kolkata when we first purchased our black tea in bulk. The process took more than an hour to taste around twelve varieties of black tea from the same garden. I was told to slurp the tea (noisily) into my mouth to ensure enough oxygen goes over my taste receptors for understanding the profile of the tea. I consumed the tea, but I had the option to spat it back into a bowl before moving onto my next sample. Overall, it was a fascinating experience.