Tea tasting is the process in which a trained taster determines the quality of a particular tea. Due to climatic conditions, topography, manufacturing process, and different clones of the Camellia sinensis plant (tea), the final product may have vastly differing flavors and appearance. These differences can be tasted by a trained taster in order to ascertain the quality prior to sale or possibly blending tea.
A tea taster uses a large spoon and noisily slurps the liquid into his/her mouth – this ensures that both the tea and plenty of oxygen is passed over all the taste receptors on the tongue to give an even taste profile of the tea. The liquid is then usually spat back out into a spitoon before moving onto the next sample to taste. The flavor characteristics and indeed leaf color, size and shape are graded using a specific language created by the tea industry to explain the overall quality. Generally speaking, once the quality has been tasted/graded, each tea company places a value on it based on market trends, availability and demand.