Cafe Excellence, Audubon ‘Tea Cupping’
Have you ever been to a ‘Tea Cupping?’ Well if you are an individual who enjoys different types of tea then this is the perfect experience to enjoy. I recently had the pleasure of participating in the Cafe Excellence, Audubon ‘Tea Cupping.’
Now before I go any further, I should share that Café Excellence is a Micro Roaster of Fine Specialty coffees that they sell to coffee shops, restaurants, distributors, and to private folks like you and me either through their store in Audubon, or, right on line, but this is another story, and exciting one that I will be sharing shortly. I’m just going to right out say that it is the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, and no one is paying me for saying so, but let’s move on with today’s interesting topic involving the Tea Cupping Experience at Café Excellence and savor the delicious cup of coffee together at another time.
So what is a Tea Cupping? Tea Cupping is a way to judge teas, to access their quality, to determine their flavors, and to compare them to others. In some ways, it is like a Ceremony of sorts since the event transpires through a formal process including using specifically designed cups and certain utensils so that each flavor is equally tasted and compared.
Some Tea Cuppings are common trades by Buyers who are specialists in tasting only specific teas from different countries throughout the world, sometimes comparing even the very same types of tea from different places assessing their quality and flavor, though these use a similar but slightly different process than the Tea cupping of our experience today.
You can notice by looking at this variety of loose tea leaves the many dried natural ingredients combined to create a specific tea flavor.
Tea Cuppings generally take place in Cupping Rooms and this was the case at Café Excellence then testing a selection of various flavored teas under consideration for adding to their product line. At a Tea Cupping, specially designed white porcelain cups are used for seeping and straining each of the teas being tested but the sipping is actually done using clean spoons dipped into a bowl with the finished tea type.
There are a variety of ways on measuring the quality and flavors of different types of tea such as the intensity, and its balance. Specialty teas are also categorized into a number of official descriptions such as fruity or earthy, floral, spicy, sweet, herbal and the list is a lengthy one.
All of the individual teas for testing at a Tea Cupping contain exactly the same amount of loose tea in weight with carefully controlled even monitoring of water temperature for seeping.
Each tester participating in the Cupping moves from tea to tea around the table almost slurping the tea from individual spoons in order to maximize the fullest impact of the flavor, but first taking in the aroma by smell before moving on. At this Tea Cupping, next to each carafe of the carefully brewed teas featured a small napkin with about a Tablespoon full each of the loose tealeaves in order to smell the scent of the tea and capture its raw, finished scent.
Before this process begins, as the British often refer to the one serving the tea, being Mother, the Owner and President of Café Excellence, Anthony Valerio played Mother serving the tea, though in this case it first involves preparation with a whole other set of complex processes.
At our tea cupping we tasted twelve different teas each among different categories of tastes and flavors. After the tea seeps in the controlled temperature for a specific amount of time infusing the flavors Anthony then begins holding the cup intact before rapidly tipping it to the side in order to drain into the testing bowl clear of tea leaves.
Once the tea is drained Anthony removes the lid filled with the seeped tea leaves and places it in front of the filled tea bowl.
After serious consideration and careful tasting Island Mango was my favorite among the teas tasted, though I thoroughly enjoyed most all of them. Irene, Marketing Director at Cafe Excellence offered a small bag to the days participants of their favorite tasting. I’ve been rather hoarding mine for when my friend and neighbor, Rini, comes to visit and see my new kitchen.
It was a fun afternoon experiencing a Tea Cupping and having the opportunity to taste and learn about so many types of teas as well as the judging process involved. I also had the chance to share this experience with a couple of special people, Chef and Cookbook Author, Aliza Green, and Moon Krapugthong, Owner of Chabaa Thai Bistro in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia. Also included in the photo above is the Owner and President of Cafe Excellence, Anthony Valerio and Irene B. Satterwhite, Marketing Director at Cafe Excellence.
Thanks to Owner, Anthony Valerio at Cafe Excellence and Irene Satterwhite for their warm hospitality and the opportunity to share a Tea Cupping experience with you and all of the Spiced Peach Blog community.
Now that I’ve got my afternoon beverage blend planned for a friend’s visit all that is left to decide is exactly what to serve, perhaps some lovely tea sandwiches. Tea anyone?