Posts Tagged ‘green tea’

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

- 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

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

- 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

- 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.


11 2016

Cabinet of Curiosi-Teas

Midwest Cabinetby Nicole Burriss

As part of the mission of the Midwest Tea Festival and Taste All the Teas Specialty Events, I am endeavoring to further tea education for the tea consuming public - those who buy tea to drink at home, not necessarily those who are in the industry. Those of us involved in the industry already have many avenues we can pursue to continue our lifelong tea journey. The growing awareness of tea, both as a healthy lifestyle choice and as a fascinatingly complex hobby akin to wine tasting, is exciting to witness. Anything I can do to help that awakening continue to grow so that we all benefit from more informed choices being made at the consumer level is something I feel very privileged to be able to do.

To this end, under the auspices of the Midwest Tea Festival, I have started to host workshops and gatherings of various kinds for small groups of tea lovers as well as the tea-curious. The first event was a Cabinet of Curiosi-Teas meeting. Historically, cabinets of curiosity were private collections of natural history artifacts, religious or historic relics, geologic wonders, works of art and antiquities, which came into prominence in the 16th century. Some cabinets rivaled established museums and contributed much to the study of natural history. Some were a single actual cabinet; some were entire rooms or houses filled with wonders. Particularly in England, these cabinets supported the idea of “learned entertainment” or the aligning of education with entertainment. In much the same way, I hope that my Cabinet will contribute to the local tea consuming publics’ store of tea knowledge and experience and to their entertainment.

At these Cabinet sessions we will be exploring various aspects of tea from tea and food pairings down into some of the technical bits like professional tea tasting techniques. Most importantly, in my mind, is that people will be doing in them in the company of others. Having a social side to a hobby often serves as a catalyst to pull more people into it as well as just being a good idea to have a tea tasting buddy. Open dialogue and input from others is an important part of training your palate and growing your tea knowledge. Speaking from personal experience, having a tea obsession enabler spurs you to discover ever more about this fascinating and seemingly limitless area of study.

We gathered on a Saturday morning at a local nature center meeting room. The room was suffused with morning light from the floor to vaulted ceiling windows all along the northeast wall and we could look out into the wild bounty of nature as we prepared for our tasting. I had procured three teas for this initial foray – a 2015 GABA black tea that, according to the supplier, was processed from an Anxi, Fujian May-picked organic Tie Guan Yin variety, a 2016 yellow tea called Huo Shan Huang Ya and a rolled 2016 green tea, from Anhui Province.

Starting with the lighter tea, the green, I walked the students through an introduction to professional cupping methods per the ISO guidelines (2.5 grams per 3 ounces of water at boiling for 5 minutes). We tasted the tea with loud slurps all around and discussed how the professional method is intended to intensify the myriad of flavors present in a tea but not necessarily to make a drinkable cup of tea. We discussed what we were tasting, smelling and seeing but didn’t focus on terminology or expanding our tea vocabulary just yet. Predictably, with this method, the novice tasters were overwhelmed with the bitterness of the tea and could taste little else. However, a couple of them commented on some other sensory input such as a hidden sweetness and expressed surprise that the long infusing time and high water temperature hadn’t drowned this aspect of the tea. They also commented on the fresh scent of the leaves and we studied the size of them, isolating two leaves and a bud quite easily.

From there we moved on to the yellow tea, prepared in the same manner. Most didn’t notice much difference between the green and the yellow but again, a couple of tasters pointed out a more rounded feeling from the yellow tea, not quite as thin in the mouth. Again, we pulled out some of the infused leaves and compared them visually with the green leaves. Extremely similar in size, this led to a discussion of how the teas were from the same region and varietals in other regions had different sizes of leaves.

Lastly with our ISO cupping methods we sampled the GABA black tea. The process to enhance GABA in teas isn’t a process I am very familiar with but one of the students had a more in-depth experience with GABA oolong teas and was able to add to my meager store of knowledge about this nitrogen-rich, oxygen deprived processing method.

To finish up the session we returned to the green and the GABA teas and prepared them in a manner more suited for home tastings. We discussed how each of us could use the scientific process and apply it to tasting teas in an informal setting to reach personal guidelines for preparing a perfect cup of tea each time. We talked about eliminating one variable at a time in order to determine our own optimal steeping parameters for any given tea. And of course, the final takeaway, as always, is that there are agreed upon industry standards, best practices and supplier guidelines but the best way to prepare your tea is the way in which it gives you the most pleasure.

I told the students when starting the class that I was not an expert in all aspects of tea, being a continuing student myself, and promised that if I could not answer a question with certainty I would say so. To that end, I welcomed their input and knowledge as well. One of the students had STI certification and had led tea workshops in the past and that, combined with other students’ personal experiences and areas of study made the class a truly collaborative effort. With my overall grounding in the basics of tea and tea preparation as well as a recent focus on Chinese teas and their history, we achieved my goal of having a group that assisted each other in furthering our knowledge. We also had a lot of fun doing so!

Nicole Burriss, Founder Midwest Tea Festival


07 2016