I just drank a cup of ultra strong tea with the CEO of the company I import from in the middle of Colombo. Now it’s time to meet the official tea tasters and slurp tea together.
professional in tasting tea samples
In Sri Lanka there is a tea auctioning system. This gives you the opportunity to bid every week by choosing from a catalog. You get a sample box sent to you for every lot you choose, making it easier for you to get a taste before purchasing. The tea tasters taste about 200 to 300 tea samples a day, coming from different categories. From your normal, everyday tea bags to tea from the finest, highest quality, everything goes through them. The tasting is mostly done by 5 people, and from what I heard, things get hot and heavy there! Endless discussions about flavours! I’d really like to see it in person one day. A broker takes the notes given by the tea tasters to the auction. These notes contain guidelines in terms of how the tea tastes, but also an indication for the price that it should be sold at. This all sounds so exciting to me! For Crusio Tea we buy directly from the plantation, so we totally skip the auctions. Very little of the tea available in Sri Lanka gets sold directly to the buyers, so we are really glad to be part of this small percentage, having found farmers who want to produce and sell to us.
the same language
We walk to the tasting room (where all the magic happens), and in front of me I see a major tasting display. This, to me, is one of the most important parts in the trips I make. It’s so important for me to feel like I’m on the same page as the tea taster, and being able to convey my opinions properly. In most cases, there is always an instant click. Can you imagine? Worlds apart normally, yet when in one tea tasting room, we all happen to speak the 'same language’. That of a taster. We talk texture, sensation, intensity, and flavour that makes my heart skip a beat. This all from 6 different regions in Sri Lanka that grow tea. I could read about a 100 books on it, but in exactly this moment, things become clear. I begin to discover the different patterns in taste, and the uniqueness of each region. This is crucial to know, seeing as -up until this moment- we only buy 1 type of tea from here. Expanding seems like a good idea. We thoroughly discuss which samples should come our way, to Holland. I decide to get them by air-mail, seeing that that has been going effortlessly in the past.
slurping and spitting
After all the slurping and spitting, I can hear my tummy rumble, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, so we go back to the meeting room where I am greeted by a massive.. Pizza?? Aww, its always such a pity, yet so sweet when people try to keep up with “foreigners”. I always try to eat as local as possible, wanting to stuff as much culture as possible into the few days I’m there. Well, one tiny miscalculation and I’m back to pizza, not that I mind though, being this hungry. Also, I should bulk up, seeing as I need to go visit the plantations soon. A trip of 6 hours ahead of me, here I come, pizza and all!
This blog is about No.053 – Ceylon