Please Share You Knowledge: How to judge a tea's quality.


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Please Share You Knowledge: How to judge a tea's quality.

Postby teaisgood » Jan 30th, '08, 06:01

Please share your knowledge of how to judge a tea's quality, besides the price.
I will share the way I judge TieGuanYin, the oolong that I drink the most. But please share your knowledge, I am especially interested in all Wuyi Rock tea.

This is only my way of judging TGY quality, it is by NO MEANS any kind of formal method, and please addend your criterias.
1. Look at the dried tea leaves. Usually tighter rolled leaves are better. Tie in TGY means iron. So for a good TGY the density is said to be close to iron. Therefore the denser and tighter rolled leaves are better.
2. Unlike most Wuyi tea, where taste is more important, for TGY scent is more import.
3. The TGY should impart a strong orchid smell. As you brew the tea, a good TGY should give you whiffs of that scent even with the pot lid closed.
4. As you drink the tea, there should be only a quick slight bitterness that is immediately followed by a change to sweetness, and any bitterness left should be overwhelmed by the floral scent.
5. Bitterness is ok, but it is not ok if the tea is astringent. It should slide down very smooth. It should not leave your mouth sandy feeling. A good TGY should give you a slippery feeling in your mouth.
6. Aftertaste should be very long lasting. That sweet floral scent left in your mouth should last at least half hour for a good TGY. For a premium grade GYK, you can drink the tea, go have a light meal, and still have the after taste.
7. The floral scent should stand up to repeated brewing. At least up to 5 brews.
8. After brewing, examing the leaves. The leaves should be green in the center surrounded by a uniform rim of red color.

Please share your judging criteria. Especially on all Wuyi tea. I am especially interested in high fired DaHongPoa and BaiJiGuan.
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Postby Wesli » Jan 30th, '08, 12:05

Because of the fact that all teas are different, it's impossible to give a solid set of steps to determine quality of a tea. However, there are a few factors that are shared between almost all tea.

1. Look at the leaf. Are there any off-colored leaves? How many? Ex. Brown leaves in white or green tea.
2. I've always found that if the smell of the wet leaves in the pot is very clean, then the tea is of supreme (heh) quality. However, even my favorite teas don't follow this rule.

I think more important than any other determination is how the tea tastes to you. If it tastes wonderful to you, then there is no reason to call it of lesser quality. If you always drink your tea quickly, and feel you can't determine the quality by tasting, then next time you drink, spend some time with the tea. Really taste it, pull apart the different flavors, swish the tea around your mouth, maybe percolate it a bit, then compare it to similar teas you've had.

You really can't determine quality until you've drunk good and bad teas from across the spectrum.
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Postby Victoria » Jan 30th, '08, 15:39

Well teaisgood, I think you have a good formula there if that works for you. TGY is my favorite too, and I agree with many of your points. The aroma is very important to me too coming from a fragrance forum and being somewhat – ok totally - a fanatic in that area. But even then, I disagree on aroma being more important than the taste. I do agree tight denseness is good and another criteria for me is that the leaves fully unfurl. However – that would not stop me from liking something that did not follow suit if the taste was good. It’s funny that I have tried so, so many TGY and after all of them, I still come back to Adagio, the first one I tried. Although I have noted sometimes the batches will vary.

As for Wuyi criteria – well the closer it tastes to TGY the better I like it! So maybe what that means is I don’t really care for Wuyi? But even a bad oolong is better than most anything else in my book.
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Postby hop_goblin » Jan 30th, '08, 15:43

Fukamushi Dynasty wrote:Because of the fact that all teas are different, it's impossible to give a solid set of steps to determine quality of a tea. However, there are a few factors that are shared between almost all tea.

1. Look at the leaf. Are there any off-colored leaves? How many? Ex. Brown leaves in white or green tea.
2. I've always found that if the smell of the wet leaves in the pot is very clean, then the tea is of supreme (heh) quality. However, even my favorite teas don't follow this rule.

I think more important than any other determination is how the tea tastes to you. If it tastes wonderful to you, then there is no reason to call it of lesser quality. If you always drink your tea quickly, and feel you can't determine the quality by tasting, then next time you drink, spend some time with the tea. Really taste it, pull apart the different flavors, swish the tea around your mouth, maybe percolate it a bit, then compare it to similar teas you've had.

You really can't determine quality until you've drunk good and bad teas from across the spectrum.


I diddo with Fukamushi
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Judging tea

Postby teaisgood » Jan 30th, '08, 16:19

Sorry for the the unclarity. But I meant what kind of criteria do you use for one particular tea variety. Not all tea.
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Postby Wesli » Jan 30th, '08, 19:02

Well, I don't think that's really possible. So much depends on the brewing that if you mess up, you may mistake it for bad quality.

For example, with Sencha I normally think a roasted or woody flavor to denote lesser quality. However, there are senchas out there that are supposed to taste woody or roasty.
ex. 2. I would consider smoky sheng to be of lesser quality, but I don't think that is the case. Over time, a smoky sheng could mellow out to be better than a non-smoky sheng.
ex.3. I would consider consider real cloudy shou to be of lesser quality, but it turns out some people prefer that.

To tell you the truth, it really all comes down to taste. What some people think of as lesser quality teas, someone else may enjoy (one man's junk is another man's treasure). Then, within personal preference, and quality relative to it, it all comes down to the spectrum of teas you have drunk in that field. Once you've widened your palate, you can tell the less qualitatious from the more.
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Postby tenuki » Jan 31st, '08, 16:05

Tea I like = good
Tea I don't like = bad
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Jan 31st, '08, 16:36

Well, I don't have a really detailed system, but here are a few things I look for in Wuyi teas (Except Bai Ji Guan, I don't like that one very much):

Thick feeling on the tongue
Oily on lips and in mouth
Not too much charcoal flavor (a little bit can be good, though)
Deep, bold flavor
Rich aroma (leaf and infusions)
Long aftertaste
"Warming" feeling in body

That's just me though- others may prefer different things. I know some people really like the firey charcoal flavor, for example.
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Postby MarshalN » Jan 31st, '08, 22:32

I think what scruff said is about right -- some teas can look pretty bad but taste amazing.
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wuyi tea

Postby teaisgood » Jan 31st, '08, 23:40

Thx Scruff that helps.
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Postby Wesli » Feb 1st, '08, 02:35

All those aspects could still be present in a bad tea.

:roll:

*Gives up*
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Postby Proinsias » Feb 1st, '08, 12:06

tenuki wrote:Tea I like = good
Tea I don't like = bad


Well yeah, to a degree. But I get the olive complex with some teas - ie. I think this tastes pretty grim, but if I persevere for a bit I could become an addict.

This also applies to smelly cheese, much alcohol, very dark chocolate in fact many of the best things in life don't appear so great at first.
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Postby scruffmcgruff » Feb 1st, '08, 12:57

Fukamushi Dynasty wrote:All those aspects could still be present in a bad tea.


Obviously it's impossible to come up with a perfect, all-inclusive list, as you will never be able to pin down that je ne sais quoi about Wuyis that you really enjoy or the individual character of each different tea, but that doesn't mean you can't begin to describe the general characteristics you do recognize, imo. A beer lover may go cuckoo for hops, a wine connoisseur may be passionate about the fruitiness or dryness of a wine, and I enjoy a number of yancha's traits.
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Postby teaisgood » Feb 1st, '08, 12:59

Again agrees with Scruff.
To me scent is more important for Anxi oolong and that butter roasted sweet taste is more important for wuyi yan cha. These characteristics has been described for years, they are called "yun" or rhyme.
For Wuyi tea it is the "Yan Yun" or Rock Rhyme.
For Anxi TieGuanYin it is the "Yin Yun".
For Pheonix Dan Cong it is the Mountain Rhyme.
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Postby tenuki » Feb 1st, '08, 15:39

Proinsias wrote:
tenuki wrote:Tea I like = good
Tea I don't like = bad


Well yeah, to a degree. But I get the olive complex with some teas - ie. I think this tastes pretty grim, but if I persevere for a bit I could become an addict.

This also applies to smelly cheese, much alcohol, very dark chocolate in fact many of the best things in life don't appear so great at first.


I suppose leaving room for delusion to happen is good.
Last edited by tenuki on Feb 2nd, '08, 01:38, edited 1 time in total.
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