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Dan Cong Cupping Event Results …. Week 1

Dan Cong Cupping Event

Dan Cong Cupping Event

Dan Cong, meaning “Single Cluster” is one of the famous types of oolong teas in China. With ancient lineage from the Shui Xian varietal, it is said that there are ten different types of Dan Cong tea bushes but “80 aromas”, ranging from flowers, fruits, nuts, and more esoteric resemblances, even Duck Shit fragrance! Wudong Mountain, about 60-70 km West of Chaozhou, is said to be the birth place of Dan Cong tea. Even today, a few of the old Song Dynasty (960-1279ad) bushes can still be found there.

There are two main harvest seasons, spring and fall however, depending on altitude, some farmers may have longer plucking periods for lower altitude bushes and shorter seasons for higher elevations. All the processing steps combined can take around 48 hours; a very labor intensive operation. Very often, leaves from several days harvest are combined to make larger batches. In this case, exact plucking date is not as important as the season. For many oolongs, a few months of resting after processing can “settle” the flavors and they taste better than when first produced. Dan Cong oolongs generally have a shelf life of a few years and can even be aged for a decade or more.

This Cupping Event included Dan Cong teas from different producers, different altitudes, different grades/qualities, single harvest and blends. We are very fortunate to have one sample aged 12 years. Eight different samples were compared in all with the first week including Ba Xian Xiang - 1st grade (Eight Immortals), Ye Lai Xiang - 1st grade (Tuber Rose Fragrance) and Mo Li Xiang - Super grade (Jasmine Fragrance).

Cuppers follows modified professional cupping procedures and recorded their impressions and comments. To remain consistent with traditional Dan Cong cupping methods, the brewing vessel used was a gaiwan rather than usual cupping set. Professional cupping procedure calls for intentionally stronger concentrations so as to detect more elements in the flavor. After making their comments on the full strength infusions, Cuppers were also encouraged to prepare the samples at a more pleasurable strength though these comments were not required to be recorded. Further, many Cuppers re-infused the samples and noted the differences from the first steeping. Following are the Cuppers comments with preference rankings on the four attributes of dry leaf appearance and aroma and infused aroma and taste.

Sample #001 – Ba Xian Xiang – 1st Grade
Dry Leaf Appearance:
-  Dark green and black, long gently twisted whole leaves. Uneven grading with some stalks.
- nonuniform size fragments, dark olive green, particles of stem - Long, twisted leaves with some gold, small stems, some green some gold
- very long, wide heavy leaf, very dark brown - Dark green, almost black, large and twisted, not uniform, with some stems - Twisted pieces of varying length with a dark brown color
- Dark Brown/Green, whole leaf, twisted, consistent size - green with a brown overtone, long rolled leafs - Some branches, cut leaves, different sizes leaves, color is green and black
- UNIFORM COLOR, SHAPE, TWIST DARK BROWN
- long, slightly curled leaves with different size. Dark green to brown color.
- Long twisted leaves. Dark green in color. Realtively uniform in shape.
- Color: Army green to dark green with some brown. Length: Ave 4 cm.  Twisted bent leaf with some stem visible.
- Clean,uniformity,good rolling, normal clolor
- Dark brown to black with a slight twist

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Rich, full, earthy, baked/roasted. Vegetal sweetness with hints of tobacco and cocoa.
- Stale bread, old warehouse
- slight hay, earthy, slightly musty, vegetative
- vine or stone fruit, slight smoke
- Sweet and bready, with a faint floral note
- Sweet Creamy and slightly nutty - Sweet, floral
- sweet like honey
- flower
- HONEY NOSE SLIGHT FLORAL
- very intensive aroma of hazel nuts in caramel, sweet, hint of cinnamon
- Slightly vegital, yet floral with a hit of gram cracker.
- Initial vegital aroma (black olive) disapates in seconds, followed by a dry coco with a slightly burnt wood finishing with hits of vanilla and coffee.
- Balanced fragrance (with nuo-mi xiang) (sticky rice)
- Savory / Mushroom / Woodsy / Green

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Dark green long leaves. Still twisted. Deep olive color. Some choppiness (not whole leaves). - medium green, purple
- dark green, leathery, long, still twisted
- very dark green, gnarled, firm like spinach or kale - Very dark green or black, long whole leaves, loosely twisted - Dark green with brown edges
- Whole green leaf, partially unfurled
- full leaf partunically uncurled
- green and black, still rolling
- OPENING INTACT LEAVES, VISIBLE STEMS DARK GREEN
- big leaves dark green color, some stemps, not fully opened, doesn´t contain tips
- After rinse and first infusion, the leaf was still tightly twisted and about 2" long.
- Dark green unfurled leaf parts -
- maceration very obvious. A few stems and whole leafs. No buds, no bugs.  Fair amount of dust.
- Fresh natural green color,shapes in uniformity, good elasticity
- Unfurled / Copper 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Mild but with a slight edge. Some floral notes but firing dominates them. Light, sweet cocoa. Slightly burnt. Fishy.
- peach, vanilla, burnt pastry
- dry grass, herbal, slight lilac, some floral overtones
- woody, buttery toffee, lilly
- Bready and herbaceous and slightly floral
- a "green" scent
- Sweet, Creamy with a slight herbal scent
- Very floral and sweet
- roasted honey buiscuts - flower, fire taste is little
- SIMILAR TO DRY LEAF ONLY STRONGER
- sweet, honey, slightly floral
- Toasty with a floral hint.
- No loyality to dry leaf
- picks up floral notes (Camilla flowers).
- Balanced and complex fragrance - Smokey / Sweet / Hint of floral

Liquor Color:
- Thin, brownish yellow. Some brightness and depth but with a bit of sediment.
- dull yellow brown - Light golden green, clear,
- pale yellow with brown tinge
- Light golden, very clear
- Golden yellow with small particulate - Honey colored
- dull yellow
- light yellow
- PALE GOLD
- golden yellow color, clear
- Liquor was a light amber.
- Clear apricot color. Mid range on brightness.
- Bright, light yellow
- Deep gold

Flavor:
- Dry, lightly astringent but ok. Too highly fired. Floral notes follow from the aroma but are overshadowed by the high firing.
- mild, sweet, toasted oats, late weak astringency
- Light flavor, pleasant but undistinguished, smooth, some floral
- minerals, pear, rain, bean sprouts, buttery; initial is vegetal/asparagras, metalic on sides of tongue, metalic breath afterwards
- Herbaceous and floral initially, smooth mouth feel. Full but light. Astingent aftertaste
- Honey/Caramel flavor with a hint of parsley in the finish, smooth
- Slight astringent, thick in the mouth.  Tastes of alfalfa, All up front with a bitter finish.  Little depth.
- toasted honey, floral stems
- Dan Congs feature, Fire taste is little
- SMOOTH MOUTH FEEL DELICATE FLAVOR LINGERING "QI" IN THROAT AND CHEST. VERY LONG FINISH
- Smooth, sweet, floral. Hint of jasmin flower, ripe pineapple and milk.
- The initial sip had a flash of astringency then a smooth feel on the palat. The finish was still lingering after one minute.
- Body is weak but has nice mouthfeel without distictive flavors. Undertaste of mushroom is not pleasant but disapates quickly. Backend slightly sweet. Nice aftertaste (>2 min)
- lingering sweetness and fragrance, some full
- A little bitter with some buttery and flowery notes at the back end.

Comments: - I liked the thick mouthfeel with the lingering sweet, floral notes. An average tea which would have been better if more lightly fired during processing.
-
- Second infusion brought more floral and stronger taste.  Probably great chilled.
- Although the 2nd infusion was optional, at about 2-1/2 min, 180 deg, it was definitely richer and even more lively than the first.
- In general a nice experience, but the aftertaste was too astringent after the light initial aroma and flavor.
- This sweet creamy oolong was pleasant to drink.
- Overall a mediorce tea, no real complexity to make me interested in drinking more.
- really enjoyed buttery/creamy floral tones, very pretty cup of liquor
- The 2nd infusion, Taste and aroma were down.  I think this tea tree is good, but making was rough. I want to have tea as every day's tea.
- WITH A SMOOTH MOUTH FEEL AND DELICATE FLAVOR WE WERE VERY IMPRESSED BY THE LINGERING FINISH. STILL EXPERIENCING FOR 10-15 MINUTES. WARMING QI.
- Very nice tea with very sweet aroma and liquor flavor. Aroma of leaves is very interresting and full of nuts in caramel. Finish is very sweet and intensive with hint of tropical fruit.
-
- At 180/2min, this is a marginal tea. 2nd infusion (Gaiwan) at 180/2 min had no taste; however, leaf was still unfurled.  I followed with a new infusion using 7 gms in 150ml Chou Zhou clay pot for 15 - 20 sec at full boil;  Aroma came alive - Lilac and Jasmine. Liqure sweet with flora flavors. Undertones of nutmet and mushroom present during Gaiwan, was promenent at the finish but not overwhelming. Maintained good mouthfeel.  Next I chilled the Chou Zhou 2nd infusion (30 sec, full boil) to 62F (16.7C), then down to 53F (11.7C):  Very Good! At 62F, aromas were intense (using aroma cupping set) with diverse floral & perfume notes. At 53F, lost the aroma, but taste maintained:  no bitterness, astrigency building body. Flavors piggy-back on aroma.  Serve this in a resturant in a Champaign glass with the liquer at a slight chill off room temp.
- Good rolling and fermentation to achieve the balance of leaf and taste, esp. the elastic infused leaf and its natural color.Nice Dancong.
- While this is complex, and had enjoyable characteristics, it was a little all over the board. The second infusion was close to the same as the first, but no astringency, sweet tart taste in mouth.

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 6 5 3 1
Leaf Aroma 4 3 5 3
Liquor Aroma 4 8 3
Liquor Flavor 5 2 6 1 1

 

 

Sample #002 – Ye Lai Xiang – 1st grade
Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Dark brown/black whole, long leaves. Gentle twist with some glossy sheen. Evenly graded.
- uniform, roasted cocoa nibs color, medium-sized leaves
- very dark, brown, long twisted
- narrow width, somewhat fragile
- Large twisted whole leaves, a few stems. Medium-dark green. A few stems.
- Twisted varying length leaves, light and dark brown in color
- Brown/Black, mix of whole and broken
- loose rolled, shades of bown and green
- branches, tea leaves were different sizes, color is black
- NON UNIFORM LARGER FRAGMENTS
- long, thin, slightly curled leaves dark brown, sometimes green color.
- Thin, long twisted leaf. Greenish in color (hinting to mild oxidation)
- Dark green twisted bent leaf (3 - 4cm) with some brown leaf.  Stems not visible on dry leaf.
- not in uniformity in shapes, some stalk
- Dark Green-Black / Some light pieces / Twisted

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Dark, heavily baked but not burnt. Roasted fruit scent (apples). Slight floral high note.
- fresh citrus (lemon-lime), marigold
- some cocoa, milk chocolate overtones, earthy
- delicate fruit
- Woody and Toasty
- Toffee, toast, dried grass or wheat
- Chocolate and Cherry
- melon fruit on yogurt
- smell is little
- SUBTLE ROASTED HONEY
- roasted nuts, toffee caramel, peach in the end
- Spicy with a floral note and a hint of chocolate.
- Roasted almond with coffee, roasted cocoa, and a slight vanilla.  Luxurious aroma.
- Strong fragrance
- Savory / Fruity-sweet / Hint of Toastiness

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Dark olive green. Fairly uniform. Long and strippy. Still well twisted. Uniform shape and not choppy.
- green, brown, brined olive colors
- spectrum: green-black-red-purple
- overcooked spinich,dark green, looks"slimy" in some ways
- stiff, shiny, long-twisted
- Dark Brown, whole and loolely twisted. Uneven.
- Wirey long leafs of mixed color - Dark brown and black, still mainly twisted - light roasted green, smooth edge oblong leaf
- dark green, still rolling
- IRREGULAR SIZE AND SHAPES
- long, thin, dark green, uniformly colored, no tips, not fully opened
- Infused leaves measured about 2.5-3" long but were not uniform seeing many smaller leaves, perhaps due to packaging, shipping, etc. The color was greener than anticipated based on the dry leaf. Was expecting it to be more oxidized.
- Army green to brown. Very Unfurled! Maceration very prominent
- very thin leaf parts with a few stems. No buds.
- Uniform deep brown color, too tenderised to be squeezed by fingers
- Dark green / Twisted 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Green, floral, sweet, candy like cooked sugar. Good depth with light earthy tones.
- condensed milk, dulce de leche
- vegetal, herbal, light
- sweet, slightly ashy, honey-like
- Woody and toasty, and a little musty
- very light.
- Toffee, toast
- Slightly floral, a little burnt.  No strong aromas
- fruity and sweet with a hint of cigar smoke
- flower, swet, deep
- SUBTLE ROASTED
- honey, roasted, lightly floral
- Bright, spicy aroma with a hint of rose.
- Woody pan fired smell
-
- no loyality to dry leaf.
- Strong and sharp fragrance, but disappeared to be light in 5 minutes
- Smoky / Metallic / Citrus / Woodchips

Liquor Color:
- Light brown with red tints. Thin but bright.
- energetic brown-yellow, slight copper
- medium gold, rich, clear, slight orange
- definite orange, not amber-brown
- Light reddish amber, clear
- Bright Amber, small particulate, but bright
- Dark orange
- golden yellow with orange undertones
- brown
- GOLD
- light yellowish brown
- Liquor had a honey/amber appearance.
- Peach color (burnt orange)  Somewhat dull color.  Wonderful light aroma of Camillas with hints of jasmine and lavender. Like walking outside of a flower garden with catching a light breeze.
- Deep yellow, some turbid
- Deep orange

Flavor:
- Astringent and a bit too highly fired. Strong mineral taste with hints of dried flowers. Not very complex. - light brothiness, lingering full astringency, fullness
- slight hay, mild, slightly burnt, some astringency/bitterness, earthy
- Taste was strong, bitter, sooty, harsh and floral together; like drinking perfume and burning wood; astringent on sides of tongue, stayed astringent on top-middle; the bitter is less noticeable after 10-15 sec; gritty like under-ripe peach or pear
- Highly astringent, floral in the back of the throat. Some vegetal notes.
- Herbal, vegital taste with notes of celery and an astrigent feel
- A melon flavor but quickly overwhelmed by bitterness.
- creamy mouth feeling
- flower, the 1st have not taste, roasted is good
- FULL THICK VERY LINGERING FLAVOR
- young hazel nuts, hint of peach, honey in the end
- Shockingly astringent on the front of the tongue. Mildly astringent after one minute.
- Nice!  Floral notes very similar to Single Tree Dan Cong Night Jasmine flavor.  Light body with astringency building mouthfeel on backend. Aftertaste +1 min.
- Burnt strong fragrance with some sweetness, but became light and disappeared immediately in mouth.
- Bitter / Tart / Roasted Green Pepper / Astringent

Comments:
- The aromatic high notes were nicely complex on this tea with good depth as well. Some sweetness but fairly simple with minimal complextity.
- Overall quite good.
- Second infusion brought more chocolate flaver, more assertiveness, slightly bitter - Shared the tasting with some friends conscensus was this tea was better (milder) with 1-1.5 min.
- I am not fond of teas that are very astringent, so I did not like this tea much.
- The astrigent feel took away from the vegital flavors.
- The bitterness was very overwhelming
- one of my favorite dan congs, the creamy texture with a hint of smoky notes is amazing
- The 2nd infusion, I felt more deep taste.like butter. The 2nd was good. I think this tea is brewed more and more.
- THICK AND ALMOST CHEWEY ALSO WITH A LINGERING FINISH
- Generally a nice tea, but quite weak in taste. Intensity in leaf aroma is not in taste. Finish is fruity and sweet.
-
- This is a tea you want to work with to optimize the codes. Very good 180F/2min 1st infusion, but had nothing left for 2nd infusion (still had lots of unfurled leaf).  Chou Zhou clay pot infusion (7gms, 150ml pot, full boil for 15 - 20 sec), yielded a much darker liquer, but flavors similar to Gaiwan. Notes not softer than Gaiwan but more balanced, yielding a better mouthfeel. Picked up some bitterness as cooled, also losing the floral notes.  Chilled (Chou Zhou 2nd infusion for 30 sec full boil, then cooled):  tea did not do well.  Bitter at 53F (11.7C) and 62F(16.7C)
-
- covered the flavors and mouthfeel. This tea was so good hot, I would try other leaf volumes before discounting the chilled.
- Some stalks, strong and sharp fragrance but disappeared later, no lingering flavor. Infused leaf is too tenderised, maybe over-fermented.
- Our group did not like this tea. It is very bitter on the first infusion with a metalic aftertaste. Second infusion had a damp foliage and forest floor aromas.

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 2 6 1 5 1
Leaf Aroma 3 5 3 4
Liquor Aroma 1 8 3 2 1
Liquor Flavor 3 3 3 2 4

 

Sample #003 – Mo Li Xiang – Super grade
Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Dark brown with some black. Strippy whole leaves. Longer than samples 1 and 2. Farily evenly graded but some smaller broken pieces.
- dull, brown-black, highlights of deeply oxidized bronze
- medium length, dark dark green, little gold
- dark black with green hue
- Dark brown, medium length, twisted
- Wirey leaves of varying length, dark brown, almost black in color
- Black, twisted, whole leaf
- dark brown, tightly rolled
- beautiful, the size is same, all are black
- UNIFORM BEAUTIFUL SHAPE AND CONFIGURATION
- different size, quite long, thin, dark brown
- Dark green, long, thin twisted leaves.
-
4 - 5 cm twisted leaf parts with occasional whole leafs (thin).
Brownish charcoal color with some mahogany color.
- Very clean, almost the same thickness for each leaf, uniform shapes
- Dark Brown / Twisted / Hint of purple glossiness

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Dried grass. Tobacco. Light sweetness with some hints of burnt cocoa.
- distant fruit market, freshly picked berries
- earthy, malty, bright
- green honeydew melon, smoky, wet metal
- Woody, bready, and fungal. Slightly toasty.
- Manure/farm smell, wet hay and chicken poop
- melon
- fruit and honey salad
- flower, like perfume, very good
- NOT MUCH AROMA
- floral, jasmin, sweet
- Aroma had pleasant herbal notes with hints of honey and flowers. I did not pick up on the jasmine, but did note its floral aroma.
- Roasted cocoa and coffee with very slight caramel on backend.  Rich satisfying aroma.
- Soft and natural fragrance, some light
- Sweet / Bready / Floral / Vegetal Notes

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Olive green, fairly in-tact, thicker leaves. Still well twisted with uniform shape and size.
- deep green, dull, wet sponge
- solid grren but little change in shape
- black color is now very reduced
- Sage green and brown, relaxed whole leaf
- Light to dark green in color, still twisted tightly
- Dark green, whole leaf, twisted
- lose curled long leaf
- green and black, still rolling
- NICE APPEARANCE AS LEAVES OPEN
- not uniformly colored, some parts are green, some brown. Not fully opened, no tips
- Leaves remained tightly twisted after the first infusion and upon opening the leaves by hand, found them to be dark green with out much browing to the leaves.
- Twisted leaf still unfurled. No buds, no bugs. Very few stems. Maceration apperant but some whole leaf.
- Not uniform for the colors of leaves, even for each stalk and leaf. Good elastic feel.
- Dark Brown
- Dark Green / Slight Twist / Thin 

Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Light but obvious jasmine aroma. Sappy with slight vegetal quality. Firing is just right.
- unremarkable
- very slight aroma, earthy, floral in some way, honeysuckle
- wet mulch, sweet woody
- Light, slightly burnt, vaguely toasty/woody
- Wet hay, slightly sweet
- floral, fruity, not overpowering - fruity
- like perfume, very good, I hope to keep smell
- VERY LITTLE AROMA
- jasmin, hint of roasted aroma, light, white grapes
- The aroma was flora and pleasant.
- Slight loyality to dry leaf aroma with same roasted cocoa. Pleasant.
- Light fragrance with some sweetness,but balanced
- Malted / Sweet / Bright / Hint of Smokiness

Liquor Color:
- Dark amber/yellow with red tints developing as it cooled. Some brightness. Good body.
- pale yellow-brown, pinkish hue
- brownish gold, clear, light
- mild orange, not yellow
- Light reddish
- a little deeper than 1 & 2
- Yellow brown color
- light tan, like a light leather
- light amber
- light brown
- LIGHT GOLD
- golden brown and yellow, pure
- The liquor was dark amber honey like.
- Color between aprocot and peach. Clarity neither bright nor dull. Aroma light and floral
- more camillia flowers and lilac than jasmine.
- Deep yellow, tuibid
- Dark Red-Orange

Flavor:
- Solid jasmine taste with sappy, thick mouthfeel. Some dryness as well as astringency but ok. Fills the mouth. Some hints of fire in the initial taste which then dissipate.
- sweet, milky, slippery, oily
-  little bit of astringency, clean subdued, hints of vanilla, straw
- very slight bitter or slight ashy with meadow flowers; sprouted grain, unflavored popcorn kernels; the dry hangs on end of tongue
- Green and vegetal, sharp and slightly sweet, some atringency, with a "cedar"-like aftertaste. Reminds me of a forest.
- Astrigent, vegetal in flavor, green bean, slight sweetness
- Pleasant on mouth, sweet finish. Bitter up front, alfalfa in the middle, and a sweet finish.
- roasted marshmellow with a lingering sweet plum
- taste was clear, like perfume, deep
- NOT MUCH FLAVOR, JUST TEXTURE
- floral
- jasmine flower, lightly roasted, hint of nuts, black currant in the end
- The initial sip was astringent on the tip of the tongue and had minimal to vanishing finish after one minute.
- Not a lot going on. Slight sweetness. No flavors to complement aroma, but nice mouthfeel even though body is thin.  Bitterness builds substantially as liquer cools.
- Full and lingering fragrance and sweetness, smooth but light
- Spicy / Toasted / Floral / Astringent

Comments:
- Some intensity in the aroma. Careful manufacture is evident in uniform twist of the leaves. A well-made, well-balanced tea. The gentle baking brings out an additional nutty note in the aroma. Hints of tobacco linger in the aroma.
-
- Warming of dry tea brought out more aromas…more malt, some sweetness  Second immersion accentuated earthiness and the astringency
- Maybe because it is mild, the lovely sweet/metal/woody aftertaste sadly disappeared in less than 1 minute.  Also, i think when the temp of the tea got about lukewarm, the taste diminished; so the trick was to drink it quickly.  I could see that a medium or large cup of this would be best to drink quickly, or, keep it in a preheated thermos.
- I very much like the aftertaste of this tea, and that it had some complexity to it. - Quite the surprise on how it tasted versus how it smelled. Pleasant to drink
- A nice light tea with good complexity
- love the color of this tea, smells very complex, the after flaver is my favorite part of the tea
- The 2nd, I felt like perfume, cool and beautiful. I can brew this tea more and more.
- SURPRIZED BY THE VERY FLAT FLAVOR AND ALMOST NO THROAT FEEL OR FINISH AROMA ALMOST NON EXISTENT
- Tea is nice, jasmine flavour remaind more overdried flowers, than fresh. Finish is sweet nutty.
- This tea is very fragrant with a sweet taste and smell; thick mouthfeel. Reminded me of sandalwood. The second infusion was better.
- I could not get a good flavor from this tea.  2nd infusion Gaiwan (180F/2min) still had a significant amout of unfurled leaf but taste was only slightly improved (slight Dan Cong Honey Orchid flavor).  Body remained thin but aroma remained good.  Chou Zhou pot infusion (7 gms, 150 cm pot, full boil, 15 - 20sec), was interesting in that the liquor aroma was now loyal to dry leaf. An undertaste of slightly sweet mushroom, burnt carmel and fig appeared prominent but not overwelming.  Chilled (2nd infusion Chou Zhou, 30 seconds, full boil, then cooled) did not work
-
- very bitter at both 62F (16.7C) and 53F (11.7C); however, it retained a light floral aroma at 62F but you would need a Champaign glass to serve.
- Very nice taste for full and smooth of liquor, comfortable and exciting smell of the infused leaf, reasonable degree of fermentation. I like this tea best.
- This tea is very fragrant with a sweet taste and smell; thick mouthfeel. Reminded me of sandalwood. The second infusion was better.

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 4 5 4 2
Leaf Aroma 4 4 5 1 2
Liquor Aroma 2 7 2 2 1
Liquor Flavor 5 4 4 1 1

 

 

31

07 2017

Production Methods Cupping Event Results …. Week 3

img_9469-smThe final week of this Cupping Event covered the final 2 samples, both of which were from the Brombil tea estate in Sri Lanka, supplied by Heladiv. As with previous samples, Cuppers compared the CTC to the Orthodox version of the same teas. Being the final evaluation, Cuppers ranked the teas according to their over-all preferences and provided final comments on their experience. There were some clear favorites but it was also clear that different people had different preferences. All participants remarked on how much they learned from this exercise and some found greater insights into their own tastes. According to the Cuppers' rankings, the most preferred tea was the Yunnan Orthodox followed by the Sri Lanka Orthodox. Here are the Cuppers’ comments for the Week 3 teas.

Sample #009 – Sri Lanka - CTC
Dry Leaf Appearance: - Small, sandy particles. Dark brown. Mix of sizes. Some brightness and sheen.
- Tiny grains. Very consistent size/screening.
- Very tiny granules of roughly same size and shape. Fibers of leaves are visible,
- Even, Chocolate color, Bright, microbeads
- med brown and light brown, uniform pieces, smaller and finer than any of the other CTC teas
- Dark brown, gritty
- Mixed brown / golden, uniform
- Sand-like grains, coffee color
- grainy brown
- Finely cut up (crushed)

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Mild, plain, light plastic hints. Some mild but pleasant earthy notes. Some sweetness. Light woody hints.
- The sweet spices like mace and nutmeg
- so I think this suggested raisins as well
- Clean / Indistinct
- sweet, fruity
- fruity, citrus
- Deep, bold
- sweet and bold
- Mildly fruity with a hint of sharpness. Mostly smells like tea bag tea
- fruity, some chocolate
- Lightly Floral

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Dark brown cake. Some brightness. Slightly clumpy.
- Mushy clumping.
- Dk copper / Compacted
- coppery, clumpy, sludge like
- brown, didn't plump-up like other CTC teas
- Brown in colour, sludgy appearance
- Uniform, well hydrated
- Like lumps of melted chocolate that burned. Like clumps of mud
- dark brown, purée
- Expanded crushed leafed. Dark brown

 Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Mild but sweet. Earthy with hints of spice. Nice. Inviting, Smooth.
- Stronger raisin aroma. Still getting the same spicy smell as the dry. Bit stronger
- Fruity / Sweet
- metallic feint,
- musty, woody
- Toasty, full, reminded me of the strong tea that my grandparents drank. Hot and strong
- Edgy, musty
- Heavily baked wine
- dried fruit, vanilla
- Muddy brown

Liquor Color:
- Very dark brown/black. Thick, coffee colored.
- Very dark grown - coffeeish.
- Rich brown-red / Viscous / Cloudy
- dark amber, coloury,
- reddish brown, almost clear (too many leaf pieces were poured into the cup)
- Dark, reddish brown; quite bright
- Deep brown
- Deep reddish brown, bright and clear
- brown, dull - Reddish brown, dark

Flavor: -
Some astringency. Cooked fruit (raisins) but nearly burnt. Fairly basic with limited complexity. Finish lingers but doesn't develop.
- Bitter to start with some sweetness surfacing later. Some dry astringency lingered.
- Brisk / Walnut notes / Bitter finish / Dates / Drying
- hard, hard, heavy, harsh, astringent, metallic, rasping
- bitter, sharp, brisk, astringent, didn't taste any favor (will do 2nd steeping)
- Brisk, bitter and astringent
- Sweet, slightly astringent, deep
- Drying and basic. A "tea" flavored tea. Nothing beyond average.
- dried fruit, woody, very astringent, thick
- Bitter strong taste. But not after taste

Comments:
- A good aroma and standard dry leaf appearance.
- On the CTC teas, it would be interesting to have some of the screening sizes and practices. And I would like to know more about what difference this makes.
- Very brisk, drying tea with the flavor of dates and walnut notes. Braces the sides of tongue. Somewhat bitter finish, with a wooly mouth feel.
- Not my cup of tea much too astringent and harsh, lingering mouthfeel, milk added may increase metallic taste.
- Second steeping - much better than 1st, not sharp, no negative sensations, hint of fruitiness and nuttiness. Very short somewhat dry aftertaste.
- The aroma of the infused leaf reminded me of an old fashioned black tea and took me back to my childhood.  The liquor was very unpleasant to taste
-
- This was not as astringent as I would have expected with these parameters. It's a decent middle of the road tea.
- pleasant to drink despite the astringency, not very complex but a clear feeling of often encountered flavour (breakfast teabags in hotel)
-  Second infusion same color. The leaves did not expand any more. Slight bitter  taste with OP.

Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 2 2 2 4
Leaf Aroma 1 3 4 2
Liquor Aroma 2 5 2 1 1
Liquor Flavor 2 2 3 2

 

Sample #010 – Sri Lanka - Orthodox Dry Leaf Appearance:
- Very large, whole, black leaves. Bulky but some broken leaves. Light gray tint but some sheen. No tips.
- Leathery, grey-brown, large, lightly twisted leaf. Very loose
- Large, twisted, velvety-black whole leaves of approximately the same size.
- Grey, Uneven, slightly twisted
- charcoal gray, large long twisted and withered looking leaves
- Smoky black with a licorice green tinge. Clean, Twisted, fairly long and appeared to be uniform
- Matte black, twisted and long
- Large twisted leaves. Vary in color from reddish brown to very dark green
- big black/green long twisted leaves
- Twisted thick, dark green

Dry Leaf Aroma:
- Winey, fruity, sweet with slight salty note (nice). Deep with molasses and caramel notes.
- Spicy aroma like very dried fruit leather.
- Clean / Sweet / Fruity / Dried Tobacco
- chocolate, malty
- fruity, apricot, sweet
-
- Semi floral, musty
- Fermented vegetation and dusty straw
- herbal, fruity, toasted
- flowery, light FOP

Wet Leaf Appearance:
- Large, clumpy, dark brown, whole leaves. No tips.
- Leaves open completely in the infusion. Large leaves with nice sized pieces
- Copper to forest-green color /most leaves unfurled completely.
- dull,
- brown, large wide leaves, most opened completely
- Large, open brown leaf appeared to be uneven but quite bright and fresh looking
- twisted, tight, long but uneven in size
- Leaves unfurled a lot. Very large and appealing.
- big pieces of black leaves - Burgundy brown

 Wet Leaf Aroma:
- Winey with a slight edge. Some creamy notes. Sweet tobacco but not as sweet as the aroma. Fruity, like cooked raisins. Sweet potato.
- Malty, the smell of aged muskiness. Humid.
- Honey-molasses / sweet cedar / dates - feint, slight
- wood furniture with varnish finish, hint of fruitiness
- Full and toasty.
- Soft and bright
- Like a baked fruit dessert that was cooked with wine.
- fruity (stewed), spicy
- FOP

Liquor Color:
- Deep amber red. Bright.
- Copper red-brown. Very clear and unclouded until it cooled completely. The rich dept of the color was one of my favorite attributes of this tea.
- Bright orange-red with a green rim around the edge / clear - amber
- dark amber, almost clear
- Medium reddish amber, vibrant, clear, iridescent and sparkly
- Reddish brown
- Crisply bright and golden
- copper orange, bright
- Medium reddish brown

Flavor:
- Deep, thick, rich. Some raisin-like sweetness with hints of spice (mace). Slight astringency but also some smoothness.
- Brisk. A very clean mouthfeel. Very refreshing. The initial taste of the spice lingered and became more toward the dried fruit. Very pleasant aftertaste.
- Smooth / Complex / Dark cherry / Allspice / Smoky notes / mouth-watering
- common, flat, light - brisk, astringent, not bitter, slight dry aftertaste. I think CTC #9 messed up my taste buds
- Surprisingly smooth with mild flavor, sweet with no bitterness or astringency.
- Malty, rich, fruity
- Light and thin, fresh but gives way to bitterness.
- stewed fruit, spicy, not very complex flavour, doesn't evolve in mouth
- Balance smooth beautiful flavor

Comments:
- Good depth to the liquor and complex, pleasing aroma. Good complexity and balance. Well made. Mid to low grown tea?
- I had a sense that the first CTC set up expectations of what I would experience with the orthodox. When I caught myself reaching to find my expectations, I decided to re-cup the orthodox tea separately and not simultaneously with the CTC. Certainly, these are skills that professionals must learn and that I'd like to develop. Approaching a new tea with a clear mind and no expectation. Happily, my notes weren't too different. But I think I appreciated this tea much more the second time and was more aware of the difference in mouthfeel between the CTC and the orthodox. The second being the more pleasing.
- The leaf of this tea is beautiful, both wet and dry. Skip the milk and sugar, which might over-power the vibrant, stand-alone flavors. My favorite!
- mild, mediocre, slightly malty, slightly astringent
- Second steeping - all leaves opened, a little more brisk, not astringent, hint of fruitiness, dry aftertaste. - This tea was very easy to drink. However, the flavor was very mild.
- Probably my favorite.
- I expected a deeper depth of flavor from this.  The leaves are lovely though. A visually impressive tea though the flavor doesn't deliver.
- a good impression of a Ceylon tea, clear flavour without complexity
Rank: Combined scores for all Cuppers. Cuppers were asked to score the sample based on four criteria. The chart below shows the overall ranking of each attribute. The rank range was 1 to 5 with one indicating most appealing and 5 indicating least appealing. A higher number indicates more Cuppers agreed on the same ranking.

1=Most Appealing 1 2 3 4 5
Leaf Appearance 4 5 1
Leaf Aroma 2 8
Liquor Aroma 1 5 3 1
Liquor Flavor 2 6 2

 

Cupping Event Over-all Ranking

Name Ranks Combined (ranks/10) Final Rank
001 – Kenya CTC 6,10,8,4,8,7,7,4,5,5 64 = 6.4 6
002 – Kenya Orthodox 7,9,5,3,4,4,2,5,1,1 41 = 4.1 4
003 – Yunnan CTC 9,6,6,2,7,6,8,9,9,3 65 = 6.5 7
004 – Yunnan Orthodox 1,5,3,5,1,1,3,8,4,4 35 = 3.5 1
005 – Assam CTC 8,3,9,7,9,9,9,1,6,8 69 = 6.9 8
006 – Assam Orthodox 4,1,4,9,3,5,4,3,2,6 41 = 4.1 5
007 – Anhui Green CTC 10,4,10,6,10,10,10,7,9 76 = 7.6 10
008 – Anhui Green Orthodox 2,2,2,1,6,2,5,2,10,7 39 = 3.9 3
009 – Sri Lanka CTC 5,8,7,9,5,8,6,7,8,10 73 = 7.3 9
010 – Sri Lanka Orthodox 3,7,1,10,2,3,1,6,3,2 38 = 3.8 2

 

 Final Comments:
- This cupping event was very interesting. It was special to compare not only the differences in the style of tea but also the different origins. Additionally, thanks for including the green tea. I had not tasted many green CTC teas. While the taste was not pleasing, I learned a lot from it. In general, I liked the Yunnan and Sri Lankan teas the best (for the black teas) but each had their own points. The Assam orthodox was rich and malty. I wonder what it would have been like if it was fired to a lesser degree. The Anhui orthodox green tea was very nice. I infused all the teas a second time. The Kenya teas were smoother. Perhaps a lower water temperature for the first infusion would produce better results. This exercise was great and I can't wait for the next one.
- For this cupping experience, I really felt myself wanting it to be a class in which I was the student and there was a teacher who, at the end would critique my 'work'. It's not that I devalue my own sensory experience but rather, I feel like there was a lot that I missed. On the whole, I would say that I developed a new appreciation for CTC and the role it plays in the overall tea consuming marketplace. For example, I realized that CTC is not often consumed without being blended with other teas or herbal/floral/spice ingredients. So, some of these teas seemed to me to be of value as having a flavor profile that would be of value in a blend where others (my preferred) could stand alone. And this comparison would not always be relevant. So, I'd be very interested in hearing from others what they got out of the comparisons for production purposes and what they expected to get out of it.
- Thank you for this cupping opportunity and the ability to sample many unique teas. I enjoyed this experience very much. Right now I have a very clinical way of evaluating teas when compared to others' comments on previous ITCC cuppings. I really believe one has to be mentored in the practice of cupping to feel as though they are "doing it right". Please let me know when the next cupping event is!
- Confused by the last sample markings though the bags stated Ceylon the detailed sample information said type Assam.  It was quite interesting to experience the difference in taste based on processing. It was also surprising to see the different ctc finish products and comparisons to the look and feel of the offerings.
- I realized I definitely prefer orthodox over CTC and in some cases didn't like CTC at all. I also did not realize how different the same basic tea could taste depending on whether the leaves were cut and torn or left whole. The only tea I might consider buying for personal use would be Yunnan Orthodox #4. I had a pre-conceived notion of what the Sri Lankan teas #9 and #10 would taste like. I was very wrong. I am going to try the CTC's again using only 2 grams and honey.....maybe they will taste better.
- I really enjoyed participating in this event and I'm looking forward to learning from reading the comments of more advanced sippers. Maybe it is because I am just starting out on my tea tasting journey, but I found very little to like about the CTC production method besides the aroma.  Thank you for the opportunity to participate.
- Very interesting to see, play and test the same leaf in two production methods. It helped me learn a lot about proportions and qualities of the leaf. I can definetly see why high volume companies produce CTC for commodity/convenience tea bags. The more broken the leaf, the more color it infuses into the liquor, however, the taste gets compromised and it is more difficult to get consistent flavors. Probably flavors and quality of the tea for CTC can be improved by lowering the temperature and steeping time I personally prefer orthodox over CTC for its lower astringency and back of the throat notes (aftertaste)
- After raking based on the given cupping methods, I tried preparing most of the teas based on how I would normally prepare a full cup. Doing it like that my top 4 in order would be 005, 006, 002 & 008. I would purchase any of these 4 teas. The others were mostly average with a couple of stinkers. I'm so pleased to have been able to take part in this event. I learned a lot from these comparisons.
- At first glance, I found the ranking task is quite meaningless as I had the impression to compare objects belonging to different categories (for example fruits and vegetables). First the Anhui green tea is apart from the red teas. Then the CTC and orthodox are easy to compare for the same garden but difficult to compare among all the samples. I didn’t give a high rank to Anhui despite the orthodox one is a fine tea but so I put it apart from the red ones. By the way, I don’t like the green CTC (which taste seems very different from orthodox) perhaps the preparation was not optimal as dried ctc being under the form of a very fine powder when pouring the cupping pot into the cup even using a filter, a lot of small particles are carried into the infusion and these particles continuing to infuse are giving a very astringent taste. As I wrote in the first comment, I found each CTC compared to Orthodox having a less complex flavor. This is not so clear for the infused leaf. I made some testing with CTC in more usual preparation conditions and I got more palatable results not so far from the orthodox ones. The ranking from the four red teas are partly biased by the strong difference between Yunnan and the three others (perhaps bound to the cultivar). In conclusion I was glad with all these teas, it’s sure I was more seduced by the Kenya which reveals very complex and not so familiar aroma. For this reason I gave him the first rank, but the Assam and the Ceylon were very typical high grade tea in their category.
- I was surprise that I would enjoy a tea with pesticides. Is there a way to understand the health problem that will occur with the pesticides used on the tea bush? I enjoyed being part of this cupping event. I am sure my knowledge and taste will mature as I do more cuppings.

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11 2016