It will be noted that the titles originally applied exclusively to the China product have extended to nearly all teas, irrespective of their place of growth or manufacture. A majority are corruptions of local Chinese terms, as for example :— "Oolong," from on-loung, "black dragon," referring to the black leaves mixed with the greenish-yellow.
"Hyson," from hetsien, "spring time," the season of the first and second pickings.
"Young Hyson," from yii-tsien, "before the rains," or "young spring time." "Pekoe," from pak-ho, "white hair"—referring to the down on the young leaves. "Souchong," from siaou-chung, "small sprouts." "Congou," from kung-fu, "labor." "Gunpowder" tea is an Anglo-Saxon name, originally suggested by its small round form. It is called choo-cha, or "Pearl tea," by the Chinese.
The demand for tea has so greatly increased during the last few years that retailers find it profitable to give it special attention. Only good dependable varieties should be stocked, and when a satisfactory line is established and selling well, it is usually the wisest policy to avoid making any changes, as the average tea-drinker becomes used to one particular flavor and prefers it to anything new.
In purchasing, the first and most important test is that of flavor when brewed. Next comes the appearance of the leaf in bulk and individually. Generally speaking, the best qualities are small and more or less tightly curled—with variations as noted in the descriptions of different types. Young tea is easily chewed to a pulp. and fresh Black Tea is smooth and elastic when pressed in the fingers.
For the flavor test, the requirements are a scale of the style ordinarily used by druggists (cost about $5) and a dozen small china cups of equal size. The old rule for sampling was to weigh the equivalent of a silver 5-cent piece into each cup, pour boiling water over and taste when sufficiently cool. As the silver 5-cent piece has gone out of use, the easiest method for the average person is to weigh the equivalent of a dime and put half of the quantity into the testing cup. It would be useless to attempt
to impart any detailed rules by which to discriminate, as only experience and constant application—with- a fine palate as an initial qualification—can produce a really pro ficient tea-taster.
Success in catering to consumers requires a knowledge of individual tastes —there is a tea to suit everyone, if you know what each one's preference is. As a general thing, one can count on a good sale of Oolongs, Mixed and English Breakfast,_ when the neighborhood has no particular race characteristics. Ceylon and India and Oolongs are most popular where English and Irish people are especially numerous. .
Blending, Storage, Etc.
The highest branch of the tea-merchant's calling is found in the blending of teas —the mixing of different styles and strength to produce special results—but for the retailer without good experience to attempt it, is rather risky. To produce an especi ' ally pleasing blend is not an easy matter, and to repeat it is still more difficult—and it is,.very undesirable to establish a demand for a particular flavor if you are unable to continue supplying it. The art is fascinating—and profitable if successfully con ducted—but first experiments should be on a very small and conscientious_ly, recorded scale, and they should be accompanied by a close study of the literature of, the business, for there are many points—the comparative keeping qualities of differ; ent varieties, for example—in addition to flavor and aroma, which must be very care-, fully considered.
Tea, whether in bulk or package, should always be kept in a moderately cool, dry place, away from all other articles of distinctive smell. Not only cheese and similar' strong smelling articles, but even the aroma of oranges, lemons, etc., will affect it Dampness will spoil it utterly by starting secondary fermentation, and exposure to the air, if in bulk, will cause it to lose flavor, strength and aroma.