a. Brewing Method A sample of 2.83-3.00 grams of tea leaf is weighed out and put into the teacup (as shown in Fig. 7). About 150 mL of boiling water is added to the cup
(amount of tea leaf is about 2% of the water used). The cup is covered and let sit for about 5-6 min. The brew liquor is then decanted into the tea bowl for the evaluation of its characteristics. The infused tea leaf is left in the teacup for examination of its aroma.
b. Items to be Evaluated Items to be evaluated generally include outer appearance (shape and color), brew liquor characteristics (color, aroma, and taste) and infused leaf. The standards for each item vary with different teas. Outer appearance is examine for its shape, stringiness, color, white hair at leaf tip, evenness, and foreign matters. Examination of brew liquor color includes its color, clarity, brightness, and turbidity. Brew liquor aroma is examined for its kinds, intensity, strength, clarity, purity, and the presence of off-odors such as rancid, burnt, smoky, greenish, or moldy. Examination of brew liquor taste includes its consistency (thick or thin), sweetness, smoothness, bitterness, liveliness, stimulatory ability, and astringency. Infused tealeaf is examined for its color, leaf spreadability, and integrity of leaf tip. It is also used as a reference to differentiate the cultivars of tea leaf raw materials, maturity of tea leaf, evenness, and degree of fermentation.
c. Evaluation Methods Before brewing, tea leaf is examined for its outer appearance (as show in Fig. 8). After brewing, the infused tea leaf is sniffed three times for the evaluation of its aroma intensity and purity, as well as to detect off-odors such as greenish, smoked, burnt, rancid, and stalled odors and others (as showed in Fig. 9). Then follows the evaluation of brew liquor color for its intensity, clarity, and brightness. When the temperature drops to about 40-42 ° C, 5-10 mL of brew liquor is put into the mouth and swirled continuously with the tip of the tongue (as shown in Fig. 10). This provides continuous contact of the brew liquor with the taste buds and membranes in the mouth interior lining and thus helps in differentiating its brew liquor texture characteristics such as sweetness, smoothness, bitterness, consistency (thick or thin), activity, stimulatory ability, and astringency. For the taste evaluation of brew liquor, the aroma of brew liquor is expelled through the nose when the tip of the tongue is swirling the brew liquor. Then follows the evaluation of brew
liquor aroma. Last is the evaluation of infused tea leaf for its color, nature of the shoot, maturity, evenness and appropriateness of degree of fermentation (13).
B. Quality Characteristics of Partially Fermented Tea
Even though white tea is graded based on its quality and again subgraded into Silver Tip Pekoe, Baimudan, Kungmei, and Shoumei, the manufacture procedures for each are
basically simple and very similar. Mainly, extensive still withering followed by nature drying, or heated dehydration are required to complete the process. Therefore, differences in the general characteristics of white teas are not big, with the common characteristics of ''clear brew liquor with white tealeaf.'' However, there exist extreme differences in quality characteristics for chingcha (Oolong-type tea). This is mainly because of the significant differences in manufacture procedures and steps in the various Oolong-type teas. In addition these procedures and steps are complex. Even though all the chingcha has the general characteristics of ''green leaf with red circumference," there exist significant differences in their aroma. For example, Pouchung tea from Taiwan is most demanding for its''natural fragrant flowery aroma'' (fresh volatile aroma), whereas Dungding Oolong is most demanding for its ''heated tone'' and Pomfeng tea is considered the most ''gorgeous'' tea. As for Tieguanyin tea, besides its characteristic Yin tone, it is known for its tightness, melancholy, and heaviness. Wuyi Yancha is characterized by its lively, sweet, clear, and aromatic tone or the so-called Yan tone or soymilk tone. However, Fenghuan Shuixian is famous for its natural flowery fragrant aroma with rich connotation and repeatable brewing capability (14).
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