Equipment Needed: 5-7oz white cupping set, weigh scale (grams), teaspoon
Recommended Tea Types: All tea categories
The cupping set is a professional tea tool used to evaluate teas. It allows for a proper representation of the tea (as correct parameters are applied) and an easy method of wet leaf evaluation.
Essential Notes: There is a huge difference when it comes to cupping sets. The thickest ceramic sets will hold the correct temperature for the proper length of steeping time. Often, doing a comparison cupping between two teas using two different cupping sets with different thicknesses will make even the same tea taste different. The cupping set technique can be applied to all categories of tea as it is a versatile way to benchmark quality.
For comparative tastings, cupping sets of the same style and ceramic thickness should be used! If different cupping sets are used, then the resulting liquer will vary greatly as the steeping time and temperature will be different.
Weigh out 3g of tea for a 5oz cupping set. If you happen to be extra thirsty, weigh out 5g of tea for a 7oz cupping set. Once weighed, preheat the cupping set by filling up ceramic with hot water. This allows for an exploration of the aromas once the correctly weighed tea is placed inside.
Pour in the correct temperature water, with a means to begin the timer countdown as soon as humanly possible. This will ensure that the infusion parameters will be as accurately adhered to, thus allowing a proper understanding of the brewed tea.
Steep for the standardized time chosen. Typically, when doing a comparative tasting, the tea is steeped a little longer and stronger, in order to test its limits. Underperforming teas often become more raw and harsh, while well-made teas will have some depth of flavor past the characteristic astringency that becomes apparent.
Once the correct amount of time has elapsed, take either hand and gently pour the tea into the cupping set bowl. Two hands is advised as it lessens the chance that the lid will slip off and ruin the infusion. If many cupping sets are to be dispensed, resting the cupping vessel in the white bowl will allow the tea to continually flow while you move on to dispense other cupping sets.
Once fully empty, continue to tilt the cupping vessel upside down so that the used leaves are resting fully on the lid. Gently remove the body of the cupping vessel, tilt right side up, and place the lid full of leaves on the cupping vessel. This is the perfect platform for inspecting the leaves for oxidation patterns and leaf quality.
Grab your teaspoon and Slurp away! Don’t be afraid to move some of the leaves around on the lid, as the agitation will release pockets of aroma that really allow you to explore the tea.
Note: Two styles of openings are preferable. TEETH and HOLE. Typically, teeth are more suited to smaller leaf styles or CTC style teas. This is simply because these grades of tea are smaller in size, and may be easily filtered by this lid style. Hole style cupping sets are better for large leaf oolongs, as it allows the liquer to flow smoothly out of the cup.