Each batch of tea goes through a series of blind tastings by renowned tea tasters. But how is it actually done?
First the tasters take a close look at the dry leaves. Do they meet the requirement for that type of gradation? Are the leaves even and free of stalks?
Then the smell of the tea is taken in – it should be fresh and flowery.
Afterwards the degustation takes place. Its procedure follows a set pattern that is the same in India, Germany or England – those countries where our tea tasters work.
The tea is measured with a small hand scale – counterweight is a sixpence piece of 2.86 grams. The tea leaves are placed in a special porcelain cup and poured over with 20ccm of boiling water. The tea brews for five minutes. Afterwards the tea is strained. The infused leaves as well as the liquid are examined. The infusion is checked for brilliance and evenness of colour. The aroma also is studied by sniffing the infusion.
The next in line for inspection is the liquid. This is best done in a room facing the North to ensure even light conditions. The first attribute that is examined is the colour. How golden and how bright is the liquid? Now comes the part where the tea taster will make use of his sense of taste. He will take a sip of the tea and hold it in his mouth for a few seconds, rolling the liquid in his mouth. As it is known from wine tasting the tea is also judged by standard terms. A tea that is classified as “balanced and round” has the right mixture of sweet and brisk components. Tea that has an “overfired” taste was dried at too high temperature. The tea taster will not swallow the tea but get rid of it into the “spittoon”. Afterwards the next cup is scrutinized…
Up to 500 cups a day will pass the tea tasters palate.