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Black Tea Cupping: Lesson 6 – Cupping, Leaf Evaluation & Tasting

Cupping, Leaf Evaluation & Tasting

Session 1 – Cupping, Leaf Evaluation & Tasting

Cupping or liquoring is the preparation of teas for tasting or evaluation. The cupping set provided is
standardized globally. The method of brewing too has been somewhat standardized as below although
there may be a bit of variation on the quantity of tea used as some may use 2g tea instead of 2.5g.

Image. Lid
Image. Bowl
Image . Turnout – could be substituted with a white board of A4 size (30X21mm) or smaller.
Image. Spitoon

Step 1 – Preparation of equipment.

Have your bowl placed in front of your cup. Place lid in bowl. The tea (leaf) should be placed on a
turnout behind the cup. Place your sample behind the turn out.
If you have too many samples to taste, you may omit the turn out option as it could take up too much
space on the counter. Keep spittoon within reach.

Step 2 – Preparation of brew.
Image of pouring water.

Pick tea from turnout or sample and weigh 2.5g of leaf and put in to cup. Pour boiling water direct on to
leaf until cup is almost full (250ml). Take lid from bowl and cover cup immediately. Keep in mind that you
should place the lid on the cup before pouring water to the next cup. Open lid and stir once after 3
minutes, replace lid immediately.

Image of tilted cup

At the end of 5 minutes tilt cup in to bowl horizontally, allowing liquor to strain & pour in to bowl. Try to
keep infusion (the leaf remaining) in cup. If too much leaf has got in to the bowl, pour liquor in to
another bowl using a strainer if needed.
Image of complete set
Place infusion on lid turned upside-down. Use spoon if required. Place lid upside-down on top of cup.

Step 3 – Leaf Evaluation
It is most important to evaluate the appearance of the leaf prior to tasting for several reasons,
depending on what you look for. If you have omitted the trunout option, make sure to keep a turnout in
your hand and take the leaf out of the sample box/pouch and have a look at it. It is also essential to look
at the infusions as it will give you an indication to what the liquor will be. Therefore, make it a habit to
touch & feel the leaf on the turn out prior to tasting. Take a look at the infusion as well, pick it up and
look closer if needed.

Step 4 – Tasting
Allow liquor to cool down a bit, so you don’t burn your mouth. Take sip slurping as much as possible. You
may use a spoon (essential if others are tasting along-side) or sip direct off cup. When slurping, the
liquor should hit the top of your pallet. You may repeat slurping (while liquor is still in mouth) taking in
air. Spit out tea in to spittoon.
Spitting is not essential but is practiced because professional tasters have to evaluate several hundreds
of cups a day and it’s impossible to take all that tea in.