Worldwide annual tea production amounts to around 2.9 million tons. More than half of this amount is consumed in the country of origin. That leaves around 1.3 million tons for the export markets. Of that amount only 0.5% (or 6380 tons) will be of the quality we at TeaGschwendner would consider buying. Even so, we receive around 10,000 different tea samples from hundreds of tea gardens in the various tea-growing regions. These samples are delivered in tiny 30 gram lots to our headquarters in Meckenheim, Germany every year. There they are screened for quality and rigorously tested. Only at that point can we decide on the even smaller percentage worthy of becoming part of our tea range.
When screening teas for quality, we only evaluate one specific harvest period, or one particular place of origin, at a time. For instance, all the First Flush Darjeeling tea leaves are screened together. The same procedure is then followed for the second flush and for other tea-growing areas. By comparing all of the teas from a specific category, we can better determine a top standard.
In our tea-tasting room, the daily rattle and clatter of cups reaches its crescendo during the year’s peak production season (February - November). Here our master tasters weigh, brew, pour, sip, enthuse, spit, smell, and scrutinize the many samples. All their senses must come into play before we can fax or phone around the world to place our final price bids.
The bulk of export trade is done via commodity auction in Calcutta, Mombassa, Kochi, Djakarta, and Colombo – where the rules of supply and demand, rather than pure quality, determine the prices. Our preference is to trade privately with the growers themselves rather than with brokers, ensuring that tea quality takes precedence over the price. We understand the effort and expense it takes to produce highgrade teas and that this must be reflected in the price.
Each tea in our collection is given a TeaGschwendner Rating (TGR) by our Master Tea Taster to signify the quality of that tea when compared to other teas within the same category.
For example, each tea within the Black Classic collection is compared and rated on a 100 point scale with higher scores given to superior Black Classic teas. Because of the dramatic personality difference between tea categories, comparisons across categories simply cannot be made. A Green Aroma tea with a TGR of 95 cannot be easily compared to a Rooibush tea with a TGR of 95. What a high rating does ensure is that you are drinking the finest tea in its class! While we believe that the TGR system provides an excellent guide to distinguish quality levels, taste is a very personal thing. We encourage each tea enthusiast to choose their own perfect cup of tea! 100 of 100 points are given only under rare circumstances because in the realm of standard teas it is impossible to achieve further improvement. However, this is different in the Edmon’s Premium Collection: With their rare character, perfection and exceptional craftsmanship these specialties can reach up to 110 points. The assessment is done by our tea tasters and signifies a truly unparalleled tea.