Professional tea tasters learn to identify the individual characteristics and traits of various types of tea. Merchants and tasters conduct professional tastings which follow precise procedures, enabling the tasters to analyse the special qualities of each type.
The steps are as follows:
A professional tea tasting takes place around a tasting table laden with bowls of dried tea leaves. This gives the tea tasters a chance to touch the leaves and observe the way they look before they are brewed.
Roughly 2.8 grams of tea is put into a 150ml capacity pot and boiling water is poured onto the leaves left to brew for six minutes.
- The tea is poured into tasting cups and the infused leaves are removed from the pot and displayed for inspection before the tasting takes place.
- The tea tasters take a sample with a teaspoon. A taster will sip and slurp the tea, moving it across their entire palate and mouth for consistent tasting.
- After each taste he or she spits the tea into a spittoon.
Professional tea tasting is generally done without any additives such as sugar or milk so that the taster is able to easily distinguish the elements of the brew. During some tastings though, milk is added to the brewed tea to determine how well the two mix.
After an initial tasting is done, the brewing time may be shortened or lengthened, the amount of tea used may be increased or decreased and the tea might also be sweetened with sugar or honey to check each of these methods.