Like fine wine, tea has many nuances. When evaluating tea these are some basic guidelines:
1. DRY LEAVES
- A small amount of the dried leaf is also set on a piece of paper or basket behind the tea tasting set so that as to also evaluate the appearance and aroma of the tea at all stages of the brewing process including before it has been steeped.
- Hold the empty brew cup containing only the spent tea leaves in hand.
- Tip the lid slightly to smell the warm spent tea leaves.
- Tip the lid slightly and replace it immediately.
- Evaluate the warm aroma - this is critical in the evaluation process.
- The aroma reveals the quality and will expose any imperfections.
- Taste the tea from the tasting bowl by sipping directly from the cup or by using a spoon.
- Dip the used spoon in a cup of room-temperature water between tastings so as not to co-mingle flavors.
- Slurp the tea and swirl the tea around in mouth.
- Pay attention to texture and flavor - initial taste, middle taste and after taste.
- Note of the color of the tea.
4. SPENT LEAF
- After the tea liqueur is examined, the aroma and taste test, hold the cup and lid firmly together and flip the cup over until all of the spent tea leaves fall and rest on the lid.
- Place the lid up-side-down on the cup, displaying the spent tea leaves.
- Evaluate the cooled essence - the aroma of the now room-temperature tea leaves.
- Use your fingers to feel the texture and springiness of the leaves.
- Look for any visual or tactile similarities or inconsistencies.