In our last post we went through the necessary skills and traits a qualified and well-respected tea taster should possess. In this post, we will be covering how a tea taster conducts their job.
Firstly however it is important to note that tea is a beverage that has been around for many thousands of years, and has survived all sorts of economic slumps, collapses, and the falls of entire civilisations. As such, a job in the tea industry has a bit more permanence than many other jobs, with job security generally being quite high. Tea has proven to be something that will always be in demand, and its relatively flexible expense ensures its survivability.
Actually performing their job, however, is an interesting and highly technical process. Using a very particular and specialised spoon, the tea taster takes in the tea by slurping it so that it accelerates to exactly 125 miles per hour. This causes a fine mist to form inside the mouth which helps both the olfactory and gustatory senses absorb every aspect of the taste and scent. After thoroughly tasting the tea, it is spat back out into a special pan. The tea taster can then move on to the next cup.
A tea taster will use a stringent methodology under which they will evaluate teas, and also has a standard reference with which to compare them.
Today, tea tasting is a combination of age-old tried and tested methods and scientific methods and understanding unearthed in the modern world. This has both harmonised and standardised tea tasting around the globe.
If you are lucky enough to explore the world, why not explore the world of tea? There are so many different types of teas you can try. I don’t mean just black, green, puerh, oolongs or white teas (or even yellow, blue or red teas). Try a first or second flush Darjeeling from India, a high grown tea from Ceylon, silver tips from China or an oolong from Taiwan.
Try to avoid flavoured teas as they don’t allow you to taste the real essence of tea you are trying. Each tea has it’s own natural flavour profile. Next time you go for something new, close your eyes and inhale the smell of the dry leaf, and then the wet. Drink in the aroma of the steaming cup of choice before you taste it. What can you smell? Do you notice any stone fruits or a nutty roasted flavour? Is it sweet or savoury? Now taste it. Does it taste the same as it smells?
If you are feeling adventurous, try a tea type you have never tried. On a recent trip to Europe I discovered a white Darjeeling – the flavour was so delicate with hints of peach and the leaves were downy and soft. It was so refreshing and light but full-bodied at the same time if that could be possible. It was wonderful to try something new. Discover your own new favourites. Or if you’d prefer to stick to something similar to what you are used too, perhaps just go for another type of black tea. How about a Keemun, Assam, Nilgiri or Yunnan?
Having discovered several new teas on my travels, it was even more delightful to come home to my usual daily cup.
Hint: Next time when you are out and about I encourage you to try something different. Ask for a loose leaf, and go for something you wouldn’t normally have. It makes your favourite cup of tea at home all the more special.
Words and image contributed by Tea Master, Suzi van Middelkoop from Tea by the Sea.
Good morning Teapress viewers! We have some excited news this fine day – Leaf Hunter, from here on forward, is no longer just a newsletter. Leaf Hunter is becoming a comprehensive bi-monthly digital magazine about tea, where you’ll be able to read in-depth articles, look up the latest tea news (and we mean everything that’s hit the headlines), and even cook up your own delicious meals using tea.
The World Tea Expo is an annual event that no one in the North American tea world should miss. One of the largest tea expos in the world and with perhaps the largest range of tea exhibitors anywhere, this exhibition serves a tea industry that currently has a net worth of $8 billion – a number that is only expected to continue growing.
Exhibitors will include a wide range of tea suppliers and vendors, while many attendees themselves are looking to profit from the retail side of tea, and serve a large variety of different kinds of businesses. Even more exciting is the fact that many exhibitors – up to 30% – do not exhibit their teas in any other tea fair or exhibition in the world. Quite possibly the only time you will have to trial their newest and greatest blends will be at this expo.