Month of Tea Brewing 2017
Darjeeling teas are often referred to as the “Champagne of Tea”. In truth, there is great diversity in Darjeeling teas. The climate and terror allow for several flushes (harvests) during the year. From a light Spring Flush to a deep, earthy muscatel. Tea lovers who are fond of Darjeeling teas often delight in the prospect of a new harvest much like wine connoisseurs and are not expecting the consistency of brand names from large companies.
Cupping can be intimidating to the newbie. It doesn’t seem to make much sense in the beginning. But the goal is to focus on every aspect of the leaf, both wet and dry. The liquor – color, clarity and flavor. Aromas – both wet and dry. This becomes a much different relationship with tea rather than regular brewing. I sometimes describe this as a kind of intimacy with a new tea. But the goal is most often to compare teas using a consistent formula – delving into the true value of the tea – and often making the difficult decision about whether or not to make a purchase.
Select a super sip for today!
Cupping is the method by which tea professionals and serious sippers put a tea to a “stress test” of high heat, high ratio of tea-to-water and a longer steeping time to reveal characteristics of the tea that may not be obvious in a regular brewing process. Growing and manufacturing defects become pronounced to the trained palate. And options for the best brewing technique can be confirmed.
Tea is judged by three factors: the appearance, twist, and smell of the dry leaf, which are judged by sight and smell; the color, brightness, and odor of the infusion [the wet leaves], also judged by sight and smell; and the color, thickness, strength, pungency, and flavor of the liquor, judged by sight and taste. (. . . )
It is difficult to describe the different terms used in tasting tea. For instance, the tea may be brisk, full, rich, thick, insipid, grassy, fishy, smoky, flavor, harsh, metallic, acrid, puckery, toasty, malty, brassy; it may have point, body, strength, pungency, bite; it may cream down. Pungency is a sensation of the gums. It is a roughness or astringency in the mouth, and not a bitter taste. Rawness or greenness is a bitter taste. Briskness is a live, as opposed to a flat, taste; comparable to a fresh soda water against a stale one. Flavor is a sweetish taste, a honey-like smell. It also has been described as a bouquet which can be tasted. “Creaming down” means that the tea gets quite thick and looks as if a quantity of rich cream had been stirred into it; a milky film rises to the surface of the cup. It cannot be taken as an invariable test of good tea, but, when present, it may be assumed that the tea is at least strong and rich in quality. It is no indication of flavor.