The art of tea requires years of focussed training. The dry leaf appearance and the liquor combination of briskness, body (strength) and aroma of Camellia sinensis plant vary due to the growing conditions, change in seasons and the implemented manufacturing processes, but the Blender/Tea Taster’s skill lies in consistently selecting and offering the same cup of tea round the year despite the vagaries.
At Ripple, we have professionals who manufacture and also taste teas at their individual factory, however, the final selection of the appropriate tea for the pack is done by the panel of tasters who select the teas based on their expertise.
The 3 “T’s” play a major role in brewing tea –Temperature, Time and Tea pot material. Each variety of tea, from green to black, needs to be prepared at a different range of temperature. Different kinds of tea also require different duration of time to brew. Delicate teas such as green tea need to be brewed for shorter times, while energetic black teas benefit from longer brewing. Teapot Materials like iron are excellent at retaining heat over long periods of time, while glass or porcelain are more likely to release that heat. Therefore, iron and similar heavy materials are better for black teas whereas Green and White teas need porcelain that stay cooler.
Tea Tasting provides you an opportunity to engage with your sensory organs.
Seeing – Whatever be your choice of tea, the leaf has to be dry, free of moisture content and the tea should not stick onto each other. During screening of the teas, a taster would place part of dry tea on a clean white screening paper and observe for the leaf colour, size and consistency in shape, style, and manufacture.
Smell – The first sense that is evoked in tasting is the smell as it is the nose that tells us whether we like what we are about to taste. Tasters either use deep inhalations or the dog actions to determine the aroma of tea.
Taste – A deep breath is taken and using a large spoon the taster slurps the brewed tea into the mouth. What the taster is doing is allowing tea as well as ample oxygen to pass over all the taste receptors on the tongue as this will give an even profile of the tea. While tasting you need to look at different aspects to be able to judge the tea. The initial impression that you have is the head note – what you first felt while tasting. The secondary ring/ body note is the lasting impression. Finally, you get an after taste/ tail note that will linger. All the three notes help you in determining the quality of tea.
Once you get a hang of tasting, you’ll begin to appreciate which are the finer teas and teas that you personally prefer.
Mr. Yezdi Mistry is the Head of Quality Control from Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Private Ltd., Munnar, the largest tea company of South India, the parent Company of Ripple Tea, which produces a wide variety of teas. He two decades of Experience in the Tea Industry.