ARTICLES

Indian tea tasters evaluating chinese tea.

Standards For Specialty Tea — Taste

Element 12 – Taste Paradoxically, taste is both the least important and most important element. Taste is the least important element in that taste is, after all, dependent on the individual. What tastes bad to some tastes good to others. Conversely, it is the most important element of tea because it is a place where… Read more »


Evaluating Tea Aroma

Standards For Specialty Tea — Aroma

Element 11 – Aroma Aroma is the most complex and subjective element in evaluating a tea. Not only are the chemical elements in tea complex, the olfactory senses are more complex still and neurologically have the most intense and direct pathway to the brain. Before we get to judging the tea, aroma already has played… Read more »


Anji Bai Cha tea leaves with a pale color

Standards For Specialty Tea — Color

Element 10 – Color The color of dry tea leaves, wet tea leaves, and the tea infusion itself offers clues about the processing the tea leaves went through, how they were stored, and their age. Both leaf and liquor color are indicators of the amount of oxidation and roasting that tea leaves have gone through. Even… Read more »


Sun drying silver needle tea

Standards For Specialty Tea – Percentage of Moisture Remaining

Element 9 – Percentage of Moisture Remaining Although not precisely measurable without special equipment or easily recognizable without training, residual moisture in a batch of tea nonetheless merits its own place as an element in defining the value of a tea. The reason for this is that water content of a finished tea leaf is… Read more »


Standards For Specialty Tea — Processing

Element 8 – Processing Along with recognizing the tea maker as a person who is important in the valuation of a tea due to his or her skilled decisions in the tea’s manufacture, it reasons that those decisions should be identified as well. This brings us to the element of processing. In looking at the… Read more »


Yancha Tea maker

Standards For Specialty Tea — Tea Maker

  Element 7 – Tea Maker Tea making is difficult and skilled work. So it follows that some tea makers are better than others, and variations between the products of two tea makers, even within the same factory, can be dramatic. This is because tea manufacture, especially when performed with traditional methods, involves tacit knowledge… Read more »


Plucking from Qilan Wulong Tea Cultivar

Standards For Specialty Tea — Cultivar

Element 6 – Cultivar It should seem obvious that the genetics of a tea bush have significant contributions to the final character of a tea, however, identifying bush’s cultivar (or lack thereof) is rare in the sales of tea. The influence of tea bush genetics is so underplayed that there is even the erroneous idea… Read more »


Closeup of plucking for Liu An Gua Pian green tea

Standards For Specialty Tea — Harvest Date

Element 5 – Harvest Date When was this tea plucked? The answer to this simple question tells us many things, not the least of which include:    The expected quality of a tea’s flavor    The tea’s cultural value    The authenticity of the product    The likelihood that the tea has been well-cared for and not contaminated… Read more »


Tea bushes at Wuyishan National Park

Standards For Specialty Tea — Origin

Element # 4 – Origin Disclosing origin is essential to authenticating a tea. So it follows that a specialty tea’s origin should be clearly labeled. As with wine, a tea’s terroir, or the overall conditions of where it was produced, is critical to the tea’s character. This includes aspects of origin like soil, weather, and… Read more »


Standards For Specialty Tea — Plucking and Leaf Uniformity

  Element #2 — Adherence to Plucking Standard Tea production starts with plucking. Plucking requires a defined bud leaf configuration called a plucking standard. The first step in making a quality tea requires adherence to the plucking standard. The plucking standard that most people are familiar with is two leaves and a bud; the original… Read more »


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