The Tea Review Tasting Panel is currently working on developing and refining the scoring methodology and cupping forms that will be deployed by the Tea Review editorial team and reviewers. Sensory evaluations and scoring will take into account:
Cuppers will consider the appearance of the dry tea leaves as well as the color of the liquor.
How intense and pleasurable is the aroma when the nose first descends over the infused tea leaves and is enveloped by fragrance? Aroma also provides a subtle introduction to various nuances of acidity, taste and flavor: bitter and sweet tones, fruit, flower or herbal notes, and the like.
Flavor scoring encompasses quality, intensity, complexity, distinctiveness, balance, and authenticity to type or origin. An assessment of flavor includes consideration of the balance of basic tastes – sweet, bitter and sour in particular, and specific aroma and flavor notes, which are many and can be described by associations like floral (honeysuckle, rose, lilac, etc.), nuances of sweetness (honey, molasses, brown sugar), aromatic wood (cedar, pine, sandalwood) and above all fruit (from bright citrus to lusher, rounder fruit like apricot or plum, or pungent fruit like black currant or mango). Descriptors of flavor may also be global – balanced, deep, delicate, etc.
Body or mouthfeel
Body and mouthfeel describe sensations of weight, texture, and substance of the tea in in the mouth. Body can range from thin and disappointing to light and delicate, to medium or full, or even heavy and resonant. In texture, it can be creamy, silky, plush, syrupy, lean or thin. Unlike scoring for aroma, flavor, and aftertaste, in which intensity is generally a positive characteristic that reinforces quality, the score for body should consider that greater intensity may not contribute to a higher category score. Lower intensity but positive compatibility with type, origin, or other cup characteristics may merit a higher score.
Teas have varying degrees and quality of astringency, dryness, or brightness. Astringency can be a lively, clean and refreshing quality that is often called “brisk.” It is not bitterness nor sourness. Like scoring body or mouthfeel, scoring astringency should consider that greater intensity may not contribute to a higher score. Lower intensity but positive compatibility with type, origin, or other cup characteristics may merit a higher score. This category also evaluates the structure of the tea in the larger context of all of the basic tastes (sweet, tart, bitter, savory, umami) and their impact on the balance, resonance, and structure of the cup.
Aftertaste or finish describes reflects sensations that linger after the tea has been swallowed (or spit out). Generally, we reward teas in which pleasing flavor notes continue to saturate the palate after the tea liquor is gone, and the sensations left behind are generally sweet-toned rather than excessively bitter, sour, or astringent.
We strive for transparency. Tea Review will share the details of its scoring methodology and cupping form when they are have been finalized.