Tea is bought all over the world on the basis of its leaf appearance and cup merit. In India, the largest tea market of the world, the consumer goes for the tea that gives more cups per kg. And it is the tea taster who identifies these various requirements. The tea taster’s function is specialized, demanding talent, developed over years of training and experience. He carries out a comprehensive examination of the samples and apart from the sense of taste, the sense of sight, smell and touch are also used simultaneously to judge the value of a tea. The standard procedure for the preparation of the brew is to weigh out 2.9 g of the sample into a brewing pot and infuse it for 5 minutes in 120 ml. of freshly boiled water. The liquor is then strained into the tasting bowl and the infused leaf retained on the upturned lid. The taster first examines the sample of the dry leaf for its complexion, style, eveness of sortation (uniform sizing) and stalk and fibre content.
Good tea should have a uniform black colour with a bloom or sheen and the presence of fibre is not desirable as it is generally the result of improper or coarse plucking of the leaves. He also feels the leaf to see if it is crisp, indicating proper firing as opposed to a spongy feel. The infused leaf gives an indication of the merit of the liquor and a bright and coppery infusion is the ideal one. The taster then looks at the liquor to assess its colour, takes a sip, swirls it in the mouth for a few seconds and spits it out. By doing so, he judges the strength, body, briskness and also the finer aspects like quality, flavour and character. Sometimes milk is added to judge the colour and strength more accurately.
Tea tasters too have their own jargon. The strength of the liquor is thickness and gives a good indication of the cuppage or the number of cups of tea that can be prepared from 1 kg. While orthodox teas could yield 300-400 cups per kg, CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl process) teas yield 400-500 cups and dust grades even more. Briskness is the liveliness in liquor and brisk teas have good keeping qualities. Character is the distinctive taste which depends upon the area in which the tea is grown e.g. Niligiri character or Darjeeling character. Quality is aroma or the overall pleasant taste, which comes out during periods of slow-growth like winter quality of Nilgiris and other highgrown teas, second-flush quality of Darjeeling etc. Flavour (variably) described as peachy, raspberry, germalene, muscatel etc and bouquet are the ultimate in tea liquor and high prices are paid for such teas, which are rare and appear more pronounced in certain years, when climatic factors are favourable. On the other hand, there are also undesirable teas like smoky, burnt, stale, fruity (often caused by bacterial contamination during manufacture), heavy (thick but dull) and weathery (greenish, raw taste of some rainy season teas). Sometimes teas could be tainted with foreign substances like chemicals and sub standard packing materials.
Trained, sensitive taste buds and a keen nose are essential to judge the quality of a tea in so short a time. As excellent palate memory is a must as he should be able to compare it with the teas he has tasted over the years. Tasters are normally employed in Tea Auctioning firms (all auctioneers are tea tasters), blending and packing firms and some of the larger producing companies. They acquire their skills mostly by on-the-job training.
Tasters, who function as tea brokers, and auctioneers, should be able to relate both the positive and negative attributes of a tea to its manufacture, as they are often required to guide the producers in making teas to suit the changing market requirements, e.g. a tea with greenish infusions and harsh liquors will not keep well, overfired and smoky teas should be identified without delay so that corrective steps could be taken in time; during the quality season, harder withers should be able to monitor changes in demand patterns and production trends and his standing in the trade depends on how prompt and accurate he is in giving information to the buyers and producers. His most important function, of course, is to value the teas based on prevailing market conditions and the preferences and biases of the consumers. The tea tasters, who work in blending and exporting companies, are fully familiar with the requirements of the various markets. The blender takes great care to promote the sale of the right type of blends to suit the local needs and also ensures that consistency is maintained in the quality to protect the brand image. The tasters should naturally be able to put these skills to commercial use by assessing the right time to purchase their requirements from the auctions. For this they should keep an eye on the climatic conditions and crop trends in the tea producing areas as well. There are also a few tasters employed in tea growing companies who perform the function of quality control and standardization at the manufacturing stage.
Recent studies on chemical analysis of highgrown teas, conducted by the UPASI Tea Research Foundation have shown a direct correlation between the biochemical assessment and the tea tasters’ evaluation. It is unlikely that chemical analysis would replace the evaluation by a tea taster because the overall value of a tea as a beverage is much more than the sum total of its chemical ingredients. Therefore, the tea taster continues to play a vital role in assessing the quality of the various types of teas produced, valuing them for market and creating the right blends for the common man, restaurant operator as well as the connoisseur.
News & Events11
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updated in Jan 2021 MRLRead More
Senior Research Fellow position for the project : Field evaluation of four Bioproducts of Green Harvest (India) Bio-Tech Private Limited Wanted a post graduate in Zoology or Entomology for a Senior Research Fellow for a period of one year. Interested candidates may apply within 15…Read More
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Dr. C.S. Venkata Ram Memorial Annual Tea Colloquium will be announced later.Read More
The Pesticide Residue Division is equipped with state-of-art instruments viz., Gas Chromatograph, High Performance Liquid Chromatograph, GCMS, Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, etc., Our lab is GLP certified by National GLP Compliance Monitoring Authority, Govt. of India for the execution of Pesticide Residue Studies. We are accredited…Read More
Monthly Circular April -2014 WEATHER Weather data recorded in March 2014 at the TRF observatory are given below, along with the corresponding figures for March 2013. Year Total Rainfall mm Mean Sunshine hr/day Mean Temperature ° C Mean Relative Humidity % at Mean Evaporation…Read More
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Radhakrishnan,B., K. K. Srikumar, Smitha, K. B. Suresh. 2018. Evaluation of Sulfoxaflor 50%WG against Tea mosquito bug, Helopeltistheivora Waterhouse (Hemiptera: Miridae). Pestology. 42 (3), 31-36. Radhakrishnan, B. 2018. Recent issues on pesticide residues and other contaminants in Tea. Planters chronicle. 114(1): 4-11. Radhakrishnan B. and…Read More
The principal landmark in the history of tea research in south India, was the establishment of a Tea Experimental Station in Gudalur in 1926. During the last seven and half decades, this research organisation. Now known as the UPASI Tea Research Foundation (UPASI TRF), had…Read More
Annual Report is the one among the major publications of UPASI TRF. Annual report of each year is released by September of the following year. Other publications include Research Highlights and half yearly Newsletters. The Bulletin of UPASI TRF is an occasional publication. The Handbook…Read More
National Symposium Announcement
DATE: 22nd Jannuary, 2021
DATE: 10-12 December 2014
PLACE: KozhikodeRead More
Research Extension Meeting
DATE: 06-08 May 2013
PLACE: ValparaiRead More
JOINT AREA SCIENTIFIC SYMPOSIA (JASS)
INTERNATIONAL TEA CONVENTION
Dr.C.S. Venkata Ram Annual Tea Colloquium
DATE: 1 August 2013
PLACE: VALPARAIRead More
INTERACTIVE SESSIONS / WORKSHOPS
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PLATINUM JUBILEE SYMPOSIUM
PLACE: ChennaiRead More
PLANTATION CROPS SYMPOSIUM 2014
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Of late, considering the constant usage of pesticides and to monitor the residues in the final produce, a well equipped test facility was established at UPASI TRI in 1994. The pesticide residue laboratory is accredited by National Accreditation Board for testing and calibration Laboratories (NABL)…Read More
The Tea Research Institute at Valparai has seven divisions namely Botany, Soil Chemistry, Entomology, Pesticide Residue, Plant Pathology & Microbiology, Plant Physiology & Biotechnology and Tea Technology. Botany Research activities of Botany Division include plant improvement, cultivation practices and weed research. Plant improvement programme was…Read More
Chemistry Division is involved in research pertaining to soil-plant nutrients of tea besides extending analytical service to the industry. The research activities include investigations on physico-chemical properties of soil, soil-plant interactions, response of tea to major, secondary and micronutrients and their interactions. The research work…Read More
Entomology Division involve in basic and applied aspects of insect pests, particularly, biology, ecology and evolving control measures. The division evolved and recommended physical, chemical and biological method of tea pests control. In the past, extensive studies on bioecology, crop loss due to major pests…Read More
Pathology & Microbiology
In the division of Plant Pathology & Microbiology, research is carried out on diseases of tea and biofertilizers. Among the tea diseases, blister blight is the most important leaf disease caused by the pathogen, Exobasidium vexans affecting the tender harvestable shoots of tea resulting in…Read More
Physiology & Biotechnology
Plant Physiology Division was established in 1980 which has been primarily concentrated on crop productivity. The division strives for excellence in applied research in tea productivity and bush health besides biotechnological studies. The research undertaken extends over a wide range of research programmes having collaborative…Read More
Besides offering the analytical services and involving in inter laboratory ring test to validate the test methods, Tea Technology Division is concerned about quality of final produce in accordance with PFA Act requirements, storage studies, value added products and manufacturing aspects. The laboratory has been…Read More