Tea cupping is the procedure of tasting and evaluating the level of quality of loose leaf tea. One can only get to understand the condition when one experiences variety. What this statement implies is that getting to understand the briskest, floral or certain complexities regarding tea is one needs to grasp this next to similar types of drinks to understand the potency and which one has positive or negative taste attributes.
Tea fanatics experience this daily since they can grind out individual flavors that the untrained tongue can’t. If a person has become normalized to the same type of dull, stale tea and gets to taste tea straight from the farm, they get to feel a difference in how they consume the beverage. The experience is eye-opening and dare I say life-changing.
Why do we cup tea?
Cupping, as mentioned before, is the process of evaluating and tasting the quality loose tea leaf has to offer. This vetting process includes several steps, and each has a part to play since tea quality differs from farm, country, and origin. Tea cupping is a collective form of art skill science and hands-on practice mastered by tea enthusiasts to maintain the high standards that eventually bear fruits of satisfaction in enjoying this beverage. Teas sourced from specific farmers or producers arrive in the same shipment.
Over a given period, the tea’s flavor deteriorates since the containers holding this shipment is harsh on the produce. Standard tanks such as large QTYs absorb a lot of heat, which in turn affects the chemical composition of the tea. Cupping comes in so that we can understand how quality and flavor in tea evolves during the time.
How do we cup tea?
Tea cupping comes down to the examination of different flavors to determine quality, taste, aroma, briskness, body, and color aftertaste. Cupping similar teas and comparing their attributes against each other helps one get better analysis giving you a better purchase option since you can identify what flavors work for you. Cupping a tea by itself gives you an intimate feel of what components are its building blocks. You get to understand how it is processed, which then explains its particulars. Take the case of Jin Jun Mei teas. Tea enthusiasts are fond of this particular tea mainly because of its range in potency. Different farms and origins have made the evolution of Jin Jun Mei a wonder giving it a place in the most revered black teas.
Most professionals have similar ways of cupping teas; however, others have made some unorthodox strides in improving said methods. Consistency is what people go for while cupping. When one is cupping, they are recommended to use the technique at all times to ensure compatibility.
Black teas are famous for their aromatic scent, mellow tastes and beautiful aesthetic and most notably the vibrant red liquor brewed drinks have. As a start, you can tell a lot from tea even before tasting it. Physical or face value gives you detail on how the leaves brewed and if the infusion is at its right state. Examine the dried leaves and seeing as its dark leaves they should very tight and slim because of the heat. If the leaves are loose or coarse, then the quality of the tea is low. You should also steer clear of old or faded teas leaves and instead have bright dark leaves. These are the healthy ones. An open flat sheet gets used up quickly, while a tightly twisted leaf takes a while longer, giving you that second cup.When through these steps, you can now proceed to taste the tea — generally, the amount of attention you take examining the tea, especially when steeping the tea. One is recommended to use pure oxygenated water when preparing the tea for tasting. This type of water contains all its minerals without contaminants giving it a fresh, clean taste. Fill up a kettle and boil the water then lower the temperatures to a gentle simmer.
- Make sure you use the correct amount of tea leaves. The common misconception on this is that you measure tea by volume. Make a habit of weighing tea leaves since size can vary depending on the state of the tea leaves.
- Take note of steep time limits. Avoid over-steeping your tea. The flavor released by tea leaves has limits. After five minutes of steeping, the leaves start producing acids that give a bitter taste.
- Finally, taste the flavor of the infusion – cupped tea classified into three main dockets; – briskness, the body and lastly, aroma.
Things to consider with good tea is it’s okay, vibrant, and thick aesthetic when in a cup. Its bright and sparkling appearance immediately after pouring is also a sign of high-quality tea. You can also examine the quality of the brew by examining the used tea leaves. High-quality leaves will have soft and tender surfaces and give off a bright red color to the tea.
Color of the dried leaves. To give you some perspective on the quality of the sheets you plan to use to brew tea; it is paramount that you pick out leaves with shiny bold color. These leaves should have some consistency in their color pattern. Avoid tea leaves that are dry and dully colored or ones that have faded looks with inconsistent primary colors. Another way of evaluating quality is by having a real feel of what certain teas taste. High-quality teas have rich, mellow flavors and scents. Low-quality drinks taste bitter with little or no feeling. Low-quality teas also have abnormal tastes like deep water. Having an understanding of different teas and a rough idea on how they should taste therefore comes in.
These cupping methods are just a tip on the iceberg. There are many ways to cup tea since brewing methods are coming up each day. Regular cupping of beverages will help in many ways to increase your knowledge and understand the vast tea space to build a rapport to describe what teas taste.