Tea Tasters Box 2019

The Tea Tasters Box is an opportunity for tea lovers to try and rate some of the best teas available. Tasters are selected on social media and have about a month to blind taste and rate teas in a specific category (white, green, oolong, puer, black, and herbal). The winners are then announced leading up to and at the Toronto Tea Festival.

Follow the Tasters’ experiences via the hashtag #TeaTastersBoxTO on social media.

For fairness in rating, the 2019 Tea Tasters Box will be a blind tasting with all identifying packaging removed. Teas will be rated by both the public as well as a pool of tea sommeliers. Public rating will be on a scale of 1-10 (based on personal preference) for Leaf Appearance, Aroma, Liquor Quality, Flavour, and Overall. See detailed descriptions below.

See the 2018 winners here.

Schedule for Tea Tasters Box 2019

September 30th, 2018 : Vendor submissions due
September to Early October : Taster selection (keep an eye on our social media!)
Mid-October : Tea pickup by tasters
November : Tasting and rating period
November 30th, 2018 : Deadline for taster ratings
January 2019 : Identities of teas revealed, winning teas annnounced

Directions for Tea Tasters

Once you have picked up your box, follow these simple steps.

  1. Try the tea! Use the recommended steeping times below.
  2. Make note of the tea code (ex: P3, H10), and rate the tea in the five criteria – Leaf Appearance, Aroma, Liquor Quality, Flavour, Overall. Rating is 1-10, with 10 being the best.
  3. Share on social media using hashtag #TeaTastersBoxTO.
  4. Once you’ve tasted and rated ALL of your teas, go to the online form printed on the instructions inside the box (it was also emailed to you).
  5. Enter all your ratings and hit submit. Deadline: November 30th, 2018
  6. Keep an eye on our social media to find out the identities of the teas and winners in January 2019.
  7. Pick up all your favorites at the Toronto Tea Festival 2019!

Recommended Steeping Times

While not all teas are the same, here are the recommended steeping times for the various categories of tea. The times can be adjusted based on your preferences.

Tea Category Water Temp Steep Time
Green (G#) 185 F / 85 C 2-4 mins
White (W#) 195 F / 90 C 3-5 mins
Oolong (O#) 195 F / 90 C 4-6 mins
Black (B#) Boiling 3-5 mins
Puer (P#) Boiling 4-5 mins
Herbal (H#) Boiling 5-6 mins

Guide for Tasting

The Toronto Tea Festival strives to enhance the tea experience. To this end, the 2019 Tasters Box rating system has been updated to the following criteria. All are on a scale 1-10, with 10 being the best. The descriptions below are intended to help those new to rating tea. What is considered “best” is personal preference.

Leaf Appearance How do the leaves/flowers look? Did they open during steeping? Are they broken or whole? Is the colouring appropriate?
Aroma How do you find the smell of the steeped tea? Consider strength of aroma, complexity, and overall pleasantness.
Liquor Quality How does the colour of the steeped tea look to you? Are there any tea particles in the cup? How does the tea feel in your mouth? Does it feel “thick” or “light” on your tongue?
Flavour How does the tea taste? The main components of flavor are bitterness, sourness, and sweetness. Does this tea feature one or more of these qualities?
Overall Using the other criteria as a guide, what rating would you give this tea overall?