Tea cupping is our way of doing homework. Get to know what 3 grams of tea looks like or what 5 grams of tea looks like….
Depending on how we do it tea cupping is also a method of extracting a slightly intense flavor profile of the tea, with the purpose of pushing the tea a tad, so that the tea feels comfortable confiding in us and revealing some of its flaws. We hold it close and it whispers its secrets to us.
Some examples of tea flaws (these are things that we don’t like about the tea):
There is a lot of dust in the bowl, the color of the tea soup is lackluster, the aroma is unpleasant, the flavor is off, the mouth feel is too acidic, too astringent, too tannic.
A tea with a flaw isn’t excluded. All teas have flaws, and on some of the best teas it is the elusive nature of such “flaws” that keeps us enraptured as if in a trance. A bit of tannins and astringency are good, because they provide the backbone for the flavor to set on, the mouthfeel it creates a visceral reaction, drawing us back for more.
Cupping is also a good step to take with a tea before brewing in the gong fu style for the first time. If you are not sure how a tea will perform while using the gong fu method, cupping first provides insight as to the nature of a tea and how it will respond with adjustments in leaf volume, temperature, and brew times.