Competitive Tea Tasting Is A Real Thing

If sipping copious amounts of tea and keeping mindful notes on each mug's offerings sounds like your idea of a good time, allow us to introduce you to a potential new hobby. Competitive tea tasting is a fascinating and growing field, where individuals with a refined palate and a deep appreciation for the ancient beverage gather to evaluate brews and showcase their skills. These competitions celebrate the art of discerning the nuances of tea, promoting the highest standards in craftsmanship.

One of the most renowned global events in this domain is the Tea Masters Cup. Established in 2013, the Tea Masters Cup is an international competition that tests participants' knowledge across multiple categories. The tournament brings together tea enthusiasts and specialists from around the world and serves as a platform to highlight the intricate facets of tea, from the mastery of brewing techniques to the ability to distinguish the unique traits of different tea types.

Competition-grade tea, the centerpiece of these events, demands exceptional quality and meticulous attention to detail. These teas are typically sourced from the finest gardens and undergo rigorous processing to meet strict standards. The criteria for competition-grade tea include the appearance of the leaves, aroma, color, taste, texture, and of course, the flavor. Tea experts thoroughly evaluate these factors to assess the teas based on their characteristics, namely the fragrance, mouthfeel, aftertaste, and overall complexity.

Tea competitions are a serious business

In the Tea Masters Cup, competitors are challenged to present their skills in a variety of areas, including tea preparation, tea pairing, tea mixology, and tea tasting. During the tea tasting circuit, contestants must identify the variety and origin of an array of teas, as well as accurately describe the flavor profiles and attributes. Judges assess their keen ability to detect subtle differences and nuances, demonstrating their deep understanding. (Sounds a lot like the work of sommeliers!)

Major tea competitions aren't limited to the Tea Masters Cup. Countries like Japan, China, Taiwan, the United States, and India host national and regional competitions throughout the year to foster a sense of community and promote the innovations and talents of tea makers and tasters. The UK Tea Academy even presents The Leafies — an annual ceremony dubbed the "International Tea Academy Awards."

Competitive tea tasting has a profound impact on the industry, as it encourages tea producers to fine-tune their production techniques and recipes to create exceptional products. As a result, consumers benefit from a wider selection of high-quality teas, each with its own delicious disposition. The tea tasting competitions celebrate the rich diversity of the beloved beverage and ensure the venerable tradition of tea continues to thrive worldwide.