How do tea professionals utilize cupping in their day to day work? In this 2.0 version of our previous Intro to Professional Cupping course, we’ll explore the more technical applications for cupping skills, including assessing general quality, problems with the tea, and application for a specific use (such as finding teas for blending). Instructions for how to prep samples in advance of taking this class are included below, so you can replicate some of the exercises if you like!

Suggested Materials:
3-4 cupping sets (alternately, gaiwans work well too)
Electric kettle
Gram scale
Tasting spoon
3-4 small dishes/trays for holding tea samples

Tea Exercises:
In exercise #1 (buying decisions), I used 4 very similar Japanese green teas. You could do a similar tasting with 3-4 teas of your own that are within a narrow margin of similarity. Such as:
– Same country or region
– Same producer
– Similar price point

In exercise #2 (quality control), I tasted two different black tea types (one Ceylon/Sri Lanka, and one Assam), 2 examples of each. For one Ceylon, the tea was defective due to storage issue. For one Assam, the flavor profile was unusual enough to perhaps suspect a quality issue at first pass.

You could create similar common “problems” to investigate with teas by doing any of the following:
– Allowing a small portion of tea to stale in a cardboard or paper package for a few days/week.
– Keeping an opened package of tea next to very strongly aromatic foods, like coffee, peppermint tea, spices, garlic or onions.
– Tasting teas with very unusual but totally natural aroma notes next to similar types that lack these notes. An example would be a Darjeeling or Ceylon tea with minty/menthol cool notes (often noted in the flavor description) vs one that you artificially alter to create a minty “defect” using the above contamination method. It’s eye opening!
– You could also pick up small packages of tea from vendors who sell different harvest years, for a comparison on how teas age. Companies who regularly offer teas with dates on them include Seven Cups, Tea Source, Masters Teas by Adagio and Camellia Sinensis. Look for “last chance” or “year end” specials, meaning end of harvest year.

Original airdate: April 2020