What is Tea Cupping?Tea cupping is a process of tasting and evaluating the quality of loose leaf tea. Tea cupping is a process that includes a number steps and is a vitally important method because tea quality varies widely. Tea cupping is a combination of art and science that is used by tea lovers throughout the world to maintain tea quality and tea drinking satisfaction.Even tea from the same shipment, tea garden and processing batch can differ in taste and tea cupping is an ideal way to ensure quality control. In addition, for many tea drinkers, the knowledge that a tea supplier properly cups its tea adds to the tea drinking experience.The benefits of tea cupping enable the tea drinker to choose the best tea for their taste and wise tea drinkers buy tea from suppliers who cup each and every imported chest of tea.Sample Steps of Tea Cupping- A Black Tea ExampleThe term cupping is used to describe the examination and tasting of different teas to determine quality, taste, aroma, briskness, body and color. Cupping similar teas and comparing them against each other enables one to determine best value when making a purchase. Cupping a tea by itself will help you understand the characteristics of that particular tea. Professional tasters use similar methods in cupping teas. Consistency is the most important part of cupping. If one begins to develop a certain way of cupping teas, it is important to maintain that method for all teas. Before the tea is tasted however, a physical inspection of the leaves is performed and attention to the bouquet of the sample is also part of the process. In essence, proper cupping is based upon an understanding of the total presentation of the tea leaf.Appearance and Smell of the Dried LeafFirst, examine the dried leaf. Black tea for example, should be dark (blackish-brown) and well twisted, which indicates good withering. An open, flat leaf infuses quickly; a closely twisted leaf takes longer to infuse and will give a better second cup. In general, the leaf should be small, hard, well rolled, and uniform in appearance. The dry leaves can be squeezed to test the resilience of the leaf, which is an indication of young tea. This method of judging the quality of tea is only used for black teas. The appearance and smell of the dried leaf are not determining factors of quality in green and oolong teas. Following the preliminary cupping steps, the tea is ready for the tasting part of the process. This involves steeping the tea.Generally speaking, the same care involved with the examination of the unsteeped tea leaves must be maintained during the steeping process.Pure Water is Required Purified, oxygenated water is best when preparing your tea for tasting. Use water that has all minerals and other contaminants removed and oxygen added to ensure a fresh clean taste. Remove contaminants because even fresh, clean water contains minerals that affect the taste of tea.. Fill a tea kettle with water and bring to a boil. Use the Proper Amount of TeaTea is measured per cup by weight not volume. Depending on the size of the tea and the extent the tea is processed teas of equal weight may vary in their volumes. To prepare your tea for cupping, pour two grams (approximately the same weight as a U.S. dime) into a six to eight ounce cup and pour the fresh boiling water directly onto the leaves. Observe Steeping Time Limits Dont Over SteepThe steeping process which releases the flavor from the tea leaves has a certain time limit. After five minutes of steeping, the acids in the leaf begin to steep into the cup creating a bitter taste. Next, examine a weak infusion of tea. If black or oolong tea has not been fermented long enough, the infusion will be conspicuously bright in color and the leaf will have a green tint. A dark green infusion indicates insufficient withering and over-fermentation. An infused tea with a green-yellow tint indicates pungency and a rich golden leaf signifies quality; a reddish leaf indicates full rich liquor, while a dark leaf will produce a low-grade common tea. Perfect black tea will be full, rich, and thick looking in the cup, rich in color with a bright, sparkling appearance immediately after pouring. Oolong teas will turn cloudy or "cream down" as the tea cools. A green tea that has a clear green-yellow of green-golden color in a weak infusion is a young, early picked leaf. A dull, lifeless dark yellow color denotes old or low-grade tea. The lighter the liquor, the younger the leaf and the better the tea is. Smell the weak infusion to get some indication of the character of the tea and to detect possible burning during firing. Please note that some teas require a longer steeping time (seven minutes for Oolongs) and some teas require a shorter steeping time (three to four minutes for " "green tea" " s and Darjeelings). At the end of the prescribed time, pour off the tea from the leaves to halt the steeping. Specific Requirements for Different Types of TeaAs with any rule, there are exceptions. The instructions listed above will be used for nearly every black tea you taste. However, some teas require a different process to bring out the true flavor of the leaf. Green and White Teas: Green and white teas do not require you to fully boil the water. Pour the water from the kettle just before the water comes to a rolling boil (175 to 185 F). Also these teas usually take less time to steep. Three to four minutes is sufficient. Oolong Teas: Finer oolongs have a very large, unbroken leaf. As a result, they usually need more time in the hot water to fully release the flavonols or catechins, which give the tea its flavor. One of the great things about tea is its ability to be something different to every one who tries it. These suggestions for cupping teas are broad guidelines... No one way will ever be considered the only way to taste and cup teas. Experiment, with other types of teas with different amounts and different steeping times. The most important part of cupping teas is consistency. If there is one thing that is certain, it is that teas will change flavor when you change the brewing method and times. Flavor Characteristics of the Drinking InfusionThe final step is to taste the flavor of the tea infusion. Cupped tea is described in three main ways. The first is the briskness, the second is the body, and the third is the aroma. Briskness: Does your mouth pucker?Body: Does the tea fill your mouth?Aroma: Does the tea have a robust aroma? Answering these questions will give an indication of the quality of the tea. After cupping a number of tea samples you will learn a great deal about tea and tea quality. Cupping is an ongoing process that pays dividends if you enjoy high quality tea. Always try to purchase tea from a supplier that cups every shipment of tea. Thos will ensure that you receive the highest quality product with the greatest amount of tea enjoyment.
It might be a real eye-opener when people realize how many types of coffee packages there are offered in the Coffee Industry. There are so many different types of coffee packages because people drink coffee beverages in so many different environments. The flavors of the coffees vary too and that adds to the number of various types of coffee package designs too.Most people are familiar with the branded coffees that are found in supermarkets, and the typical sizes of those offerings. Some people prefer to buy the freeze dried coffee because it is easier to fix in the mornings when only a cup or two will suffice. Most people choose between a large can of ground coffee that is weighed in ounces instead of pounds. The pound size bags have been reduced lately too, or did the various types of coffee packages fool you too?Many of the hotel chains prefer to purchase the types of coffee packages that will fit the 4 cup coffee makers that are placed inside every hotel room. The various types of coffee packages that are chosen for the room will be typically more regular ground coffee pods, and one that will produce some decaffeinated coffee. Of course, the coloring for the decaffeinated coffee is usually green, and the regular coffee will be red.Many people do not realize how expensive the various types of coffee packages are that are placed in a hotel room. Some hotel coffee services charge right at $30 for 18 rooms to have a coffee packet inside the room. That is one cost that is doubled when two types of packages are placed, and again when two of one kind are chosen, and then for each decaffeinated pack that is chosen.The types of coffee packages that hotels choose and pay for will definitely make you review how you view your own coffee selection and price at the supermarket. The types of coffee packages that they choose will generally include Caribou French Ground or Caribou Blend Ground Coffee. If someone wanted to select a Starbucks brand for their hotel, then they would be expected to pay $37.40 or more for the same number of rooms.Most hotels will only offer a 4-cup coffee maker in each room because they cost less to buy. If the hotels would switch over to guest room coffee, they could really save a bunch of money. The types of coffee packages used in a room equipped with a Melitta or Hamilton Beach single cup coffee maker are pods. These pods of coffee will brew one cup apiece and cost the hotels only $4.39 for 12 cups.
Coffee does not exist in the form that we are used to purchasing it in at the stores. Coffee comes in the form of green coffee beans that grow on the coffee plant. These green coffee beans are then collected from coffee plantations and are sent to places to be roasted, ground and finely crushed to make the coffee powder that you are use to purchasing at your local store.The Processes that Green Coffee Beans UndergoThere is a process that these green coffee beans must go through before they actually become coffee powder. Firstly, the beans must be picked from the coffee plantations. This is usually done by hand by laborers who get paid for each basket that they pick. Then, since coffee beans have a fruity flesh that directly wraps around the coffee bean, once they are gathered this flesh has to be removed right away. This is done by soaking the beans, scouring them and then mechanically rubbing the bean. Once the green coffee bean is free from its fruity flesh it is then cleaned with water. This is done in order to remove any of the fruity flesh that may still be sticking to it, as well as any additional sugars that are on it. The beans are then dried by spreading them over a large concrete or rock plane where they are dried by a combination of the air and direct sunlight.After the beans have been dried it is time for the beans to be put into categories that are based upon the color and the size of the coffee bean. Any beans that are discolored, decayed or damaged are removed from the other beans at this point. When the beans are finally dried, they are then roasted. This process is important if you want an aromatic cup of coffee. At this time, the coffee bean will actually expands to nearly twice that of what its initial size was. It will also change color and density as it takes in heat. The color turns to yellow and then to a light cinnamon brown. At this point the coffee beans will start to crack, just like popcorn does. As coffee is grown in different parts of the world, varying climate conditions and other factors also play a role in how the beans are processed. The final product is then crushed into the savory coffee powder which we are accustomed to seeing.
Chardonnay is a thousand year old small village in Mconnais in the southern portion of France's burgundy region. The famous wine Chardonnay most likely originated here and was then spread throughout France by the monks. The earliest recorded reference to Chardonnay occurs in 1330 when Cistercian monks built stonewalls around their 'Clos de Vougeot' vineyard exclusively planted to Chardonnay grapes. There is another hypothesis that points towards Lebanon when it comes to the origins of Chardonnay, but with no written references. Another direction points to an Austrian vine very similar to Chardonnay, called Morillon. The name Morillon has been used during the middle Ages in the region of Burgundy and was an old name for Chardonnay in the region of Chablis. Murray Tyrrell from Australia changed the course of history for Chardonnay by bringing the HVD vineyard in 1982. Chardonnay is the most widely planted variety in Australia and also in NZ. There is more Chardonnay than Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. Lately Chardonnay has become a common girls name and has had a terrible press starting with the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) movement. Critics are making case of Riesling and other people are finding Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc or Viognier worth drinking. But Chardonnay consistently makes better wines in a wider range of climates than any other white variety. It is also responsible for the majority of the world's finest whites. Chardonnay is a vigorous, heavy cropping variety with medium sized bunches. Bunches have tightly packed berries forming a single cluster not like loosely spaced Shiraz bunches. A ripe Chardonnay berry is gold yellow in colour with plenty of juice. Berries are small, fragile, thin-skinned and require care during harvest to avoid oxidization. Chardonnay is very sensitive to winemaking practices. Cool climate Chardonnay produces an abundance of fruit flavours. The warmer climate Chardonnays may have less of the fruits but develop wonderful honey, butterscotch, buttery and nutty oily flavours that really fill the mouth. The trend of fermenting Chardonnay in oak barrels and then storing it in new oak can kill the fruit characters. You know there's too much oak when all you get is vanilla and cinnamon and no fresh fruit.The new worldwide winemakers have increased the freshness and acidity by sourcing grapes from cooler climates such as Marlborough (New Zealand), Russian River (California), Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula (Australia), Constantia and Walker Bay (South Africa), Casablanca and Leyda (Chile), and Agrelo and the Uco Valley (Argentina). This doesn't mean that Burgundy is forgotten. Whites from Chablis, the Cte Chalonnaise and the Mconnais are very good value. Chardonnay is back on top and as Tim Atkin, in an Observers article advises He had more exciting Chardonnays in the past 12 months than in the previous 12 years.
In the UK and USA, producers are increasingly making wines labeled organic or produced from organically grown grapes. The meaning and legal force of these terms can vary significantly from one country to another.A key point to add at this stage is the difference between organically grown grapes - fruit from vineyards grown without the use of industrial fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides - and wines made without synthetic preservative additives.Organic Vineyards Where it all begins!An organic vineyard is one where grapes are grown without chemical fertilizers, weed killers, insecticides, or other synthetic chemicals. This prevents damage to soil and ensures that no chemicals end up in the wine as residue. Organic farmers aim to maintain healthy, biologically active soil whose fertility is provided by plants that fix nitrogen from the air. In the vineyard it means planting cover crops between the avenues of the vines instead of applying herbicide. Naturally occurring plant or mineral extracts leave no residue in the soil, and weeds are kept down with the use of mechanical and hand hoes. Biodiversity is promoted through the plants, which help regulate the vineyard soil by attracting beneficial insects, spiders and predatory mites.The Role of Certification and the Organic MarketWhen a label says organic, it means the wine has met certain standards that are set by a government agency. Different nations have their own certification criteria, so whats organic in one country may not be so in another. In the UK the Soil Association is the most recognized and used certification body.Many wineries that are technically organic still choose not to be certified. There are many reasons for this. Some do not want the added costs and bureaucracy of registering. Others may disagree with their governments standards. Whatever the case, they are not allowed to use organic on their labels.There is a national government target for 30 per cent of all UK farmland to be organic or in conversion by 2010, and 20 per cent of the food consumed to be organic by 2010. The UK grocery market was worth $206 billion in 2006 and USA 634.7$ billion. This growth in the organic food market will have a knock on effect on the drinks industry and will meet the ever-growing demand from consumers for organic wine, which is better for drinkers and better for the environment.Financial Incentives to Companies to turn OrganicIn 2005, 39% of the world organic farmland is in Australia and New Zealand. To combat this The European Union (EU) offers financial support to organic farmers as an incentive for farmers to convert to organic production and help the sector grow. These grants provide farmers with assistance during the period of conversion to organic farming which usually takes three years.Organic Beers and SpiritsWhile not so widely available as organic wine, organic spirits are available through specialist suppliers. The production process for organic spirits does not differ widely from conventional production. The main difference lies in the use of organic raw materials. Organic beers are now available in a number of pubs and supermarkets and tend to use organic hops.Fancy visiting an organic vineyard?If you are into Organic wine why not visit Englands Premier organic vineyard. In addition to processing fruit on site, Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard is one of the main tourist attractions in the 1066 Country region in and around Hastings attracting some 5,000 visitors per annum to its Vineyard & Woodland Nature Trail + Wine tasting.