What is Tea Cupping?
Tea cupping is a process of tasting and evaluating the quality of loose leaf tea. Tea cupping is a process that includes a number steps and is a vitally important method because tea quality varies widely. Tea cupping is a combination of art and science that is used by tea lovers throughout the world to maintain tea quality and tea drinking satisfaction.
Even tea from the same shipment, tea garden and processing batch can differ in taste and tea cupping is an ideal way to ensure quality control. In addition, for many tea drinkers, the knowledge that a tea supplier properly cups its tea adds to the tea drinking experience.
The benefits of tea cupping enable the tea drinker to choose the best tea for their taste and wise tea drinkers buy tea from suppliers who cup each and every imported chest of tea.
Sample Steps of Tea Cupping- A Black Tea Example
The term cupping is used to describe the examination and tasting of different teas to determine quality, taste, aroma, briskness, body and color. Cupping similar teas and comparing them against each other enables one to determine best value when making a purchase. Cupping a tea by itself will help you understand the characteristics of that particular tea.
Professional tasters use similar 茶葉推薦 methods in cupping teas. Consistency is the most important part of cupping. If one begins to develop a certain way of cupping teas, it is important to maintain that method for all teas.
Before the tea is tasted however, a physical inspection of the leaves is performed and attention to the bouquet of the sample is also part of the process. In essence, proper cupping is based upon an understanding of the total presentation of the tea leaf.
Appearance and Smell of the Dried Leaf
First, examine the dried leaf. Black tea for example, should be dark (blackish-brown) and well twisted, which indicates good withering. An open, flat leaf infuses quickly; a closely twisted leaf takes longer to infuse and will give a better second cup. In general, the leaf should be small, hard, well rolled, and uniform in appearance.
The dry leaves can be squeezed to test the resilience of the leaf, which is an indication of young tea. This method of judging the quality of tea is only used for black teas. The appearance and smell of the dried leaf are not determining factors of quality in green and oolong teas.
Following the preliminary cupping steps, the tea is ready for the tasting part of the process.
Generally speaking, the same care involved with the examination of the unsteeped tea leaves must be maintained during the steeping process.