Report from the world's largest oolong tea competition in Taiwan.
Last Sunday, I observed the final team of five senior judges at work.
At this point in the judging process, about 20% of the total amount of tea entries remained to be ranked among the 5,882 overall participants. Prior to this, 6 teams comprised of 5 professional judges each were overseen by 3 advisors to determine the rankings of the entire lot of tea entries in the world’s largest Oolong Tea competition. Through a complex system developed over the last 30 years or so, the teas were closely examined to determine their overall quality among a vast array of artisan-crafted Dong Ding Oolong Tea.
In the initial phases of the judging process, the teas are categorized into four levels of quality: A,B,C, and D. By the end of the initial phase, those entries that fall into the D category (up to 30% of the total entries) are disqualified from the competition. Those rated in the C category (roughly 30% of the total entries) are given the grade of two plum blossoms and are marketed at a significant margin above the standard regional market price. Those in the B category (about 20% of the total entries) are given the grade of three plum blossoms and can be sold for significantly more than their two blossom competitors.
The remaining A category (about 20%) qualifies for further judging and ranking by the senior team of judges. From this category, approximately 4% will be removed from the A category by the senior judges to receive a three plum blossom ranking. The final 16% or so of total entries will be ranked among 3rd Class (9%), Second Class (5%), and First Class (頭等 － 2%) with only the remaining top ten of the First Class entries along with the Champion Prize Winning Tea to be ranked.
The final results of the competition will be posted publicly on Thursday May 22nd. You can imagine the level of anticipation among the local artisans (only residents of Lugu Township can enter the competition) who are waiting to see how their best batch of the season ranks among their peers in the most prestigious Oolong Tea competition in the world!
That means the 4% removed from A as well as the B categories get three plum rankings?
Yes, you got it!
It is a little complex, but think of it like this…
The most senior team of judges (who ONLY judge the A category) wait to be passed the top 20% of entries from the other judges. Once they receive this 20% they send back some tea that they feel does not make the A cut.
The results came out yesterday, we’re headed to Lugu to taste some this weekend.
We plan to write a 3rd and blog post on the competition documenting the competition fair that happens this Saturday and also the public tasting of award winning teas at the Lugu Farmers Association next week. We’ll get all the winning info and include it!
Here’s the next post from the Lugu Farmers’ Association Dong Ding Oolong Spring Tea Competition 2014 – Tea Fair and Tasting
Here are some excerpts, for the full post and photos check the link above.
“To finalize the event, on the following Wednesday there was an unpublicized occasion provided by the Farmers’ Association for local participants in the competition and a few select guests to sample the spectrum of this spring’s competition teas.
hese categories include two plum blossoms (about 34% of all entries); three plum blossoms (about 20%); Third Class (about 9%); Second Class (about 5%); First Class (about 2%); Top Ten Winners; and Champion Prize. There were a total of 5,882 entries in this spring’s competition. Within the categories below the top ten and champion prize, three samples of each category were offered to represent the accepted roasting spectrum of the teas. This allows competitors to get a direct experience of the teas judged on a very pivotal factor in their production – roasting. This opportunity to taste the judging standards is essential information for artisans to experience in their preparation for the world’s largest oolong tea competition."