The three-piece white porcelain set includes a brew cup, a lid and a 6-ounce tasting bowl. We recommend purchasing 6 at a time, allowing you to compare teas side-by-side in a consistent, standardized method (referred to in the industry as “cupping”).
DIRECTIONS: Add 2.5 grams (approximately 1 heaping teaspoon for most teas) of leaves into the brew cup. Fill the cup with freshly boiled (190 degree) water and cover. Steep for three minutes. While holding the lid tight, set the cup horizontally on the tasting bowl to decant through the grooved teeth opposite the handle. Once the water has completely drained into the bowl, you can evaluate the tea in several ways:
1. HEATED ESSENCE: Hold the empty brew cup (containing only the used tealeaves) in your hand and tip the lid slightly to smell the warm, used tealeaves. Etiquette dictates that you only tip the lid slightly and replace it immediately after evaluating the aroma to retain heat and steam for the next tea taster in line behind you. The heated aroma is critical to the evaluation process. It can tell you many things about the tea’s quality and will flush out any imperfections. Many professional buyers say they can tell which teas they are going to buy based on this first step of smelling the heated essence alone.
2. TASTE: Next, taste the tea from the tasting bowl by sipping directly from the cup or by using a large spoon (not included). TIP: you can dip your used spoon in a cup of room-temperature water between tastings so as not to co-mingle flavors. Professional tasters always slurp their tea loudly and as quickly as possible to spray the tea to all of the different tasting areas of their tough at once. Swirl the tea around in your mouth, paying attention to texture and flavor (initial taste, middle taste and after taste). Also take note of the color of the tea. Professional tasting sets are always made from white porcelain to set the tea’s visual color in high contrast.
3. WET LEAF: After everyone has examined the heated aroma and tasted the tea, hold the cup and lid firmly together and flip the cup over until all of the used tealeaves fall and rest on the lid. Place the lid up-side-down on the cup, displaying the used tealeaves. You can now evaluate the cooled essence (the aroma of the now room-temperature tealeaves) to see how the smell has changed. You can also use your fingers to feel the texture and springiness of the leaves. Look for any visual or tactile similarities or inconsistencies.
TIP: In most professional tastings, a small amount of the dried leaf is also set on a piece of paper or basket behind the tea tasting set so that you can also evaluate the appearance and aroma of the tea at all stages of the brewing process, including before it has contacted water.
TIP: Some experts swear by using boiling water (212 degrees) during a professional tasting (rather than the standard, ideal tea-brewing temperature of 190 degrees) because boiling water accentuates any negative characteristics in the infusion, making any negative flavors more pronounced.
TIP: This style Tasting Set is used almost universally in the tea industry. However, the grooved teeth on the side of the cup do not work quite as well for small-leaf teas such as rooibos, chamomile and some deep-steamed Japanese varietals. Although the set will work conveniently and easily for all tea types, when tasting the aforementioned small-leaf teas in a highly professional environment, an added strainer is often used.
TIP FOR WHOLESALE CUSTOMERS: A Professional Tea Tasting set can create a fun, interactive tea class/demonstration for your customers! We use a set of 12 whenever doing fundraisers, classes or special events. We start the class with a brief introduction on tea production (the difference between true tea and herbal tea, green and black, etc.) and also discuss topics such as caffeine and health benefits. Then we prepare a professional tasting of 12 different teas for customers to experience. A Tasting Set makes it easy. To maintain hygiene, we put a clean spoon (we prefer white, porcelain Chinese soup spoons but forgot them the day these photos were taken!) next to every tasting bowl and give each customer a small cup to re-use. Rather than tasting directly with a spoon, customers use the spoon to place a small amount (enough for a sip) of tea into their cup. We instruct customers to move down the line for the first step (“heated essence”) first, and then they taste the tea during their second trip down the line.
TO PURCHASE: Click here to purchase a professional tasting set for yourself or your business! If you work in the tea industry, we highly recommend having a tasting set of your own; we use ours on an almost daily basis and its convenience is much appreciated!