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Tea Competitions and competition tea

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

In this article we will check what a tea competition is and how tea experts make the evaluation among thousands of competitors to select the most suitable ones.

Do you know why these competitions exist? Here we tell you!

Cata de té para competencias

What is a tea competition?

A tea competition is an event that is organized by different associations and they will inform the tea farmers in their area to participate in it. Each competition is different but for the most part, the farmers supply a few kilos of their selected tea and then the judges rank them according to their qualities. The size of the competition ranges from 50 to 6000 teas as we said in previous posts. The competition from Lugu Farmers Association (鹿谷), Dòng dǐng wūlóng chá (凍頂烏龍茶), began back in 1976 and it has been a model for other competitions to follow.


Why do tea competitions even exist?

The goal of these competitions is to boost cultivation techniques and plantation management, along with the mastery of making and roasting tea. In addition, it helps tea farmers and develops the market. It is also a platform for retailers to find the best sources.


How do they fulfill a competition?

For example, the competition of Líshān wūlóng tea will begin the next week after the spring season is over in LíShān (梨山). Tea farmers receive an invitation from the Farmers Asociation from Hépíng District, Taichung (if you still don't know Líshān, it's a small town located in High Mountain, our tea plantation is at about 2000masl). The competitors must select the teas, pick out the best leaves and further drying them. In collaboration with the regional government of Taizhong and TRES (Tea Research an Extension Station), they will receive 12 jīn of tea (it's called “1 Diǎn” and means a piece to fight. “Jīn” is a unit of measure equivalent to 600g. Therefore “1 Diǎn” weights 7.2 kilos) by the farmers of the district of Hépíng (usually at the beginning of June is when they receive the tea). After receiving the contestants, they work for the evaluation, put a secret code on each contestant, prepare the samples to evaluate, drink the teas to examine pesticide residues and other substances. The judges are all tea experts and no outsiders participate. The competition is generally stiff but with fair procedures. It is normally open for people to watch during judging, but this year due to COVID-19, the organizers decided not to admit spectators.


How do they evaluate the tea?

Steps:

  1. Put the items and tea in a suitable place.

  2. Weighs 3g of leaves.

  3. Pour the water at 100ºC.

  4. It is infused for 5 or 6 minutes.

  5. Evaluate.

  6. Classify.

  7. A log is filed.

  8. Prizes are announced.

  9. The tea is packaged according to the prize obtained.

  10. Finally all the producers participate in an open fair.


Jueces seleccionando té Dongding

The upper picture is the exact moment when judges taste the teas.


Tea evaluation is done based on:

  1. The appearance of the leaf

  2. The color of the infusion

  3. The aroma and the taste

The importance of each factor depends on the competition.


For example, in the case of Báiháo wūlóng 白毫烏龍 competition (Also know as 5 colors wulong or more famous oriental beauty / Dōngfāngměirén / 東方美人) percentages are:

  1. 20% appearance of the leaf (Shape and color, compactness, evenness, texture, quality of the leaves, brightness. The cultivar, how was growing and manufacturing process)

  2. 60% aroma and flavor (Types of aromas and how is the liquor feeling in the mouth, cleanness, diversity, density, vibrant, causes salivation, aftertaste, etc.)

  3. 20% color of the infusion (brightness, color it self, transparency)


Rewards and prices in the case of Báiháo wūlóng

Winners in sequence:

  1. Tèděngjiǎng / 特等獎 (single winner of the winners)

  2. Tóuděngjiǎng / 頭等獎 (1st class winner)

  3. Èrděngjiǎng / 貳等獎 (2nd class winner)

  4. Sānděngjiǎng 參等獎 (3rd class winner)

  5. Yōuliángjiǎng / 優良獎

Except of Tèděngjiǎng and Yōuliángjiǎng, there is a percentage according to the competition.


Because of small production in Báiháo wūlóng, prices are normally high. If the tea has a price it will be almost unreachable! (Usually teas with a reward are more expensive than those who don't enter the competition). Last year for example, each 1 jīn from Touděngjiǎng (1st class winner) costs 580.000 TWD that's roughly 18.200 usd at today's rate!


Here we have a picture of Báiháo wulong. You can tell why we call it “Five Colors Wulong”.

Oriental Beauty de competencia

Competition Tea

But that doesn't mean other teas are bad. There are many more extraordinary teas that do not participate in this kind of championships. Also, good or bad is a very personal matter. There are people who are used to artificial aromas or tend to choose more stimulating aromas. And what happens when they drink tea? They find out that the tea infusion is too light or boring or maybe bad.


The prized tea that comes packaged from the competition has passed the competition's standards. But as I said before, it's a personal matter. There are cases that people buy them but they don't like it after trying it. Too many factors influence to be able to explain it, one is that the tea was very good during the evaluation but later it changed with time or it is simply not as you imagine it or you do not know the appropriate way of preparation. In conclusion, award-winning tea is surely a good tea as long as it is evaluated by the common standards of tea experts. Of course there is always more good tea to explore outside of the game!


This is our 2022 spring Dòng dǐng wūlóng - 3 flowers / 三梅. We have a limited quantity of sealed"Box-sets" with their unique serial number in our shop!

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