Saturday, April 10, 2010

IDENTIFYING ASSAM VS. CEYLON -- visual clues

This entry was done in the spring as part of a study group before our Tea Sommelier exam at the end of April 2010.  Thought I'd put it here just for the heck of it.

Saturday April 10, 2010:  After Thursday evening's blind tasting which included an Assam and a Ceylon, although I did get it right (ahem), I confess I felt it was abit of blind luck. So I brewed them up this morning to see if I could see more visual clues.

About 30 seconds after infusion.




















3 grams in 4 oz water (I was looking for visuals not taste ;)  You can already see the liquor of the Assam on the left is darker.

Comparing the appearance of the wet leaves.












And the ASSAM wet leaves are indeed much redder than the CEYLON -- a good clue (click on any of the photos and they'll enlarge). But I noticed that the brightness of the red faded after a few (like 5 or 10) minutes. Perhaps they need to be soaking wet and the moisture had drained to the bottom of the pile. I also noticed slightly brighter green flecks in the Assam wet leaves but that might not be characteristic of all Assams. (More observation needed.)

Brewed liquor, Assam on left, Ceylong on right.















At first glance they look very similar but back off, focus and yes indeed the ASSAM on left is darker and the CEYLON on right is more of an orangey-red and "brighter" (clear, crisp) looking. Both have distinct green rings around the edge.


Comparing cloudyness after 5 minutes.















I don't know how much time we'll be given to identify the teas, but in this photo taken about 5 or 6 minutes after pouring off the leaves you can clearly see that the ASSAM on the left is cloudier than the CEYLON on the right. (I marked an "x" under each glass with magic marker). This means that the protein (amino acids including theanine) precipitated out more quickly in the Assam as the liquors cooled. A question: will all Assams and Ceylons react the same way.....? Hmmm.

By 30 minutes later both teas were densely cloudy -- couldn't see the bottom of the glass in either of them.

Yours in tea-dom.

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