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Leaf Tasting

Tasting Principles & Profile

Tea is generally described as having a foreground, middle ground, and background flavor. Teas grown in the same region have a characteristic profile that allows you to compare the quality of teas from estates within the same region, as characteristics cannot be replicated across regions.

When tasting tea,use both your taste buds and your sense of smell to discern flavor and quality.Professional tea tastersslurp the tea with a loud sucking noise and quickly swish it around their mouth to get a sense of the tea's body and flavor profile drawing the aroma back into his mouth and up into theolfactory nerves.The taster, thereby, tastes feels and smells the liquid. They then spit out the tea as they quickly move down the line, tasting several teas one after another.

There are four kinds of tastes -salt, sour, sweet and bitter.Sweetnessis tasted at the tip of the tongue, andbitternessat the back.Saltinessis tasted at the tip, but also at the sides of the front of the tongue.Sournessis experienced at the back edges. When the liquor is swirled round the mouth, the thickness, body or viscosity is felt and judged.

Tea tasting is a precise skill, anart perfected only through experience.Professional tea tasters must undergo years of training in order to develop the art. He must be able to compare it with a number of teas he has tasted over the years and which are no longer available. Apart from tasting and describing tea, the ability to value a tea calls for long experience and knowledge.He must assist the producer in improving the quality during theprocess of manufacturing

Below is a list of some terms used bytasters for evaluating tea.We wish to point out that you don't have to be an expert to appreciate tea—you just have to know what you like and be willing to experiment. You will likely want to skip the spitting step, but you can impress your friends with your tea knowledge by using some of thesetasting terms and techniques.

Dry Leaves

First, smell youruninfused teato determine the tea's "nose"(smell of the dry leaf)and examine the leaves inside. Evaluate the leaves to see if they have the followingcharacteristics.

  • Adhesive : Well-rolled, wiry leaves that tend to cling together when picked up.
  • Attractive : Well-made, uniform in color, size, and texture.
  • Bloom : Leaves look lively and have a lustrous quality.
  • Brown : Leaves are brown in color. Although black is a desirable color for black tea leaves, tippy teas are never totally black due to the presence of the lighter-colored tips, which are desirable.
  • Dull : Lacking bloom.
  • Dusty : Leaf tea that contains some tea dust.
  • Golden Tip : Tea contains golden colored leaf tips. This is desirable.
  • Leafy : Tea containing larger than average leaves.
  • Leggy : Tea leaves are long and thin.
  • Stylish : Leaf of superior appearance containing "tip".
  • Tip : Pieces of the leaf tip.
  • Tippy : Teas that contain generous amounts of leaf tip and therefore produce a more flavorful cup.
  • Well-twisted : Refers to how the leaf was rolled. A leaf that has "twist" is well-rolled.
  • Whiskery : Leaves covered with a fine hairy fiber. Also described as "hairy"
  • Wiry : A thin long leaf that has been nicely rolled.

Click here to know more tea language describing dry leaf.

Infused Tea

Remove and smellthe fragrant leaves after they have infused their flavor into your cup. Look for the followingcharacteristics.

  • Aroma : Leaves have a fragrant smell or scent denoting 'inherent character' usually in tea grown at high altitudes.
  • Black Currant : aroma emitted by black currant bushes: noticed in some Darjeeling’s
  • Bright : Leaves have a lively reflective quality rather than looking dull.
  • Coppery : Leaves have a coppery color, usually denoting a good quality tea.
  • Dark : Leaves are dark or dull in color, sometimes denoting a lesser quality tea.
  • Dull : Leaves that lack a bright, reflective quality. Dullness is infused leaf and liquor develops from over-fermentation or bacterial infection. Dullness in made tea is mainly due to faulty sorting procedures.
  • Even : uniform color. It is usually combined with 'bright' or 'coppery' as qualifying adjectives
  • Green : Generally undesirable this a defective color in infused leaf. This defect may be caused by coarse plucking, insufficient fermentation, as also poor and inadequate rolling and insufficient withering
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