Category Definitions

September Competition Category Definitions:

Category: Ceylon Low Grown

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from Sri Lanka grown below 600 meters (2,000 ft) elevation that contains no other botanical.

Infusion:  A full-flavored malty tea distinctive to low grown specialty teas with a bright, light coppery color infusion.

Category: Ceylon Mid Grown

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from Sri Lanka grown between 600 and 1200 meters elevation (2,000 to 4,000 ft) that contains no other botanical.  

Infusion: These teas present a good deal of strength and a full body astringent flavor with a bright infusion with a coppery tone. 


Category: Ceylon High Grown

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade From Sri Lanka grown above 1200 meters (4,000 ft) elevation that contains no other botanical. 

Infusion: Coppery bright infusion with a golden-orange hue in the cup.  These teas produce a refreshingly mellow, delicately fragrant flavor with a mild flowery note. 

Category: Ceylon Open

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Any

Country of Origin: Sri Lanka

Leaf: Leaf of any grade from Sri Lanka that contains no other botanical.  Teas appropriate for this category do not fit the requirements of the Low, Mid, or High Grown Ceylon categories.  For example, these teas could be blends of different elevations or unique teas that are different from the standards, including black, green, tips, or other styles of tea.

Infusion: Traditionally a bright infusion with a coppery color, although different tea styles will produce their own unique infusions.

Category: USA Grown Tea

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Any

Country of Origin: United States of America

Leaf: Orthodox processed leaf of Camellia sinensis of any grade or oxidation level grown, cultivated, and processed in the USA that contains no other botanical.

Infusion: Infusions will vary based on oxidation level. Each tea will be judged against the traditional expectations based on leaf style and oxidation level submitted.

Category: African Black (machine processed)

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: African Countries

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any machine processed grade from one single origin, grown in Africa, that contains no other botanical. Leaf is of uniformly sized irregular shaped balls. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall championship.

Infusion: Rich coppery-brown to red-brown color with a good, strong, well balanced flavor with typical tasting notes of African grown teas.

Category: African Black (orthodox processed)

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: African Countries

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any orthodox processed grade from one single origin, grown in Africa, that contains no other botanical. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall championship.

Infusion: Infusion is reddish brown to coppery in color. Medium to full body with bright astringency and an array of aromas and tastes typical of African grown teas.

Category: Darjeeling 1st Flush

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: India

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from the Darjeeling region of India that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is typically harvested between March and April where the finished leaf is a blend of brown mingled with olive green and typically with silvery buds.

Infusion: Infusion is pale amber in color with a fresh, flowery, light and extremely aromatic character. Infusion is smooth floral cup easy on the palate with undertones of citrus flowers and pit fruits. Aroma reveals a muscatel grape that is very typical of this flush which is carried through the finish.

Category: Golden Monkey

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Black

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade which typically comes from the Fujian provinces of China. This tea uses only the leaf bud and the first leaf. The buds are a nice tan color and are very abundant in the blend. Higher quality teas will still show some down on the buds. This tea is often referred to as the black tea version of the white silver needle tea.

Infusion: The infusion is golden to deep amber in color that is light with sweet honey, cocoa, and pit fruit notes, that lacks much astringency. Some particulate maybe seen from the downy buds.

Category: Blended Green

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin. May not contain any flavoring agents.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the green tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the green tea should be present and detectable. 

Category: Dragonwell

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: Green tea leaf, typically from Zhejiang Province of China, where the leaf bud and 1-to-2 leaves are made into a flattened shape. The leaf is neat and uniform and is yellow-green in color.

Infusion: Wet leaf shows buds and has vegetal, nutty aroma. Infusion is clear yellow to green in color. Flavor is nutty, vegetal, medium-bodied which is slightly astringent with distinctive pan-fired toasty notes.

Category: Flavored Green

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored green tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the green tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the green tea should be present and detectable. 

Category: Genmaicha

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Japan

Leaf: Steamed green tea leaf of any grade from Japan (typically Sencha or Bancha) blended with roasted hulled rice kernels. Rice kernels may have popped to resemble popped corn.

Infusion: Infusion is a bright green to gold and may be hazy with particulate. Infusion is fresh and grassy with a nutty savor flavor. Blend must be balanced between tea and rice kernels.

Category: Gyokuro

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Japan

Leaf: Steamed green tea leaf of any grade from Japan that is grown and cultivated to make gyokuro. This typically means the teas are handpicked and processed and that the bushes are kept shaded and covered with bamboo, reed or canvas mats prior to plucking to produce higher concentrations of chlorophyll. The flat needle leaves should be a dark green color flecked with spots of yellow.

Infusion: The infusion is a clear pale yellow. The aroma and flavor is sweet, mild and very smooth.

Category: Matcha Blend - Powders

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Matcha from Japan

Leaf: Japanese finely ground matcha of any grade that is blended with at least one other powder not of Camellia sinensis in origin; most commonly a flavored, sweetened, or latte matcha.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the green tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the green tea should be present and detectable. Hazy infusions with particulate may be present.

Category: Matcha

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Japan

Leaf: Japanese finely ground powder made by grinding tencha (a finely chopped tea made using the same gyokuro method). Color is a brilliant lime green with no yellow or brown shades.

Infusion: Infusion is frothy but thin (based on our preparation protocols), intensely green with distinctive grassy vegetal flavor with no notes of raw astringency.

Category: Pan Fired Green

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that is NOT first processed by steam but is pan-fired to de-enzyme the leaf. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall championship.

Infusion: Infusion is pale to golden-yellow in color with distinctive pan fired toasty notes.

Category: Sencha

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Japan

Leaf: Steamed green tea leaf of any grade from Japan typically made from the first harvest plucking in spring. Long flat emerald needle like shape of varying sizes.

Infusion: Wet leaf is a rich green color with a fresh aroma. Infusion should be a bright green to neon green and often is hazy with particulate. Flavor is fresh, rich medium-bodied with grassy and briny notes and umami rich brothy taste.

Category: Steamed Green

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that is first processed by steam to de-enzyme the leaf. Leaf is often of varying sizes and is typically more of an emerald color due to the steaming process. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall Championship.

Infusion: Infusion is medium-bodied with grassy and briny flavor notes. Tea should have some umami brothy character.

Category: Blended Herbal/Tisane

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Herbal/Tisane/Botanicals

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Herbal/tisane of any grade (herbs, spices, flowers, fruits, roots, nuts, etc.) that is blended with at least one other botanical. Blend cannot contain Camellia sinensis, flavoring agents, or caffeinated botanicals (guayusa, yerba mate, yaupon, etc.). Blend must be caffeine free.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend.  

Category: Blended Caffeinated Botanicals

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Herbal/Tisane/Botanicals

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Caffeinated botanical (guayusa, yerba mate, yaupon, etc.) of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical. Blend may not contain flavoring agents. Camellia sinensis may be used in the blend. Caffeinated botanical may be green or roasted versions. Blends marketed as Energy Teas are also accepted.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Blend will have undertones of a roasted vegetables and nuts with subtle smoky notes.

Category: Caffeinated Botanicals

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Herbal/Tisane/Botanicals

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Caffeinated botanical (guayusa, yerba mate, yaupon, etc.) of any grade. Caffeinated botanical may be green or roasted versions.

Infusion: Green versions will be subtly smoky, nutty, herbaceous in flavor with a clean smooth finish with hints of caramel sweetness. Roasted versions offer an intense caramel, nutty and smoky cup that has a buttery finish with notes of roasted chestnuts with hints of molasses.

Category: Chamomile

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Chamomile

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Daisy-like herbal/tisane of the flower from a chamomile plant of any grade; except pollen only. Whole grades will have a yellow center flower with some pollen, most will have some stem, some will also have white flower petals. An occasional leaf is acceptable but higher quality chamomiles will not have leaf. Higher qualities will also have less stem and more white flower petals. Cut grades will show some uniformity in size of the elements described in the whole grades but cut to a tea bag size. Pollen only grades should not be submitted.

Infusion: Infusion is a golden cup with a soothing, sweet floral aroma, and an apple-like sweet-citrus taste. Particulate is common in this infusion.

Category: Detox Blend

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Herbal/Tisane/Botanicals/Camellia sinensis

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: A blend of botanicals of any grade that is marketed as a detox tea blend. Blend may contain flavoring agents. Camellia sinensis may be used in the blend. Note: We are not judging the efficacy of the detox function of the blend. Only the overall blend components in how they harmonize together to deliver a well-rounded tea experience.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Infusion will offer varying colors and taste profiles.

Category: Flavored Herbal/Tisane

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Herbal/Tisane/Botanicals

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Herbal/tisane leaf of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals. Blend cannot contain Camellia sinensis or caffeinated botanicals (guayusa, yerba mate, yaupon, etc.). Blend must be caffeine free.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored herbal/tisane where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend.

Category: Hibiscus

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Hibiscus

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Dried whole or cut flower grades of the hibiscus plant, mainly Hibiscus sabdariffa. Leaf is varying shades of red often with beige edges when in cut forms.

Infusion: Infusion is a nice clear red that ranges from strawberry red to a dark ruby red. Crisp bold tart berry flavor with notes of cranberries, juicy raspberry and hints of blackberry with a floral finish.

Category: Mint Tea

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Mint

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Dried mint leaves of any grade from any variety of mint, most notably peppermint and spearmint, though other mints are allowed. This tea may contain a single mint variety or a blend. No other botanical may be used. Blend may NOT contain flavoring agents.

Infusion: Infusion is clear to hazy with yellow-brown to green-brown color. Tea is high in menthol cooling and/or warming action with some vegetal notes. Some natural sweetness may be detected.

Category: Sleep/Relax Blend

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Herbal/Tisane/Botanicals

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: A blend of botanicals of any grade that is marketed as a sleep or relaxing tea blend. Blend may contain flavoring agents. Camellia sinensis may NOT be used in the blend. Note: We are not judging the efficacy of the sleep or relaxing function of the blend. Only the overall blend components in how they harmonize together to deliver a well-rounded tea experience.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Infusion will offer varying colors and taste profiles. Particulate is common in this type of infusion.

Category: Aged/Baked Oolong

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Semi-balled or open leaf semi oxidized leaf of any grade that has undergone a post-production process of aging or heavy baking with the intent to significantly alter the original aroma and/or flavor. Leaf should be very dark, not brittle or burnt. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall Championship.

Infusion: Wet leaf aroma includes mesquite or pit fruits. Infusion is a deep gold-amber. Visible particulate from baking and firing is acceptable. Infusion is sweat and roasty, with concentrated flavor, but should not be excessively smoky, indicating a smoked tea.

Category: Oriental Beauty (Formosa Silver Tip)

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Leaf: Moderately to heavily oxidized oolong. Open, curly leaf style of many colors.

Infusion: Infusion is deep, clear golden hue with minimum brown tones or excessive particulate from baking. Very aromatic infusion with distinctive ripe stone fruit and floral notes with a lush mouthfeel. Refined and delicate astringency with a lingering aroma finish.

Category: Pouchong

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Leaf: Lightly oxidized green oolong (typically around 10%) with emerald to yellow-green open leaf.

Infusion: The infusion is a pale light color with obvious floral aromatics. Taste is floral with notes of sweet honeysuckle with long lingering floral aroma well after the finish.

Category: Dark Oolong

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Open leaf oolong tea that is more heavily oxidized but not aged or roasted. (Examples may include, but are not limited to, Phoenix Dan Congs, Shui Xian, Da Hong Pao, Rou Gui, etc.) Leaf is often large and twisted or openly crumpled with a dark coloring. High quality dry leaves will have noticeable aromas of pit fruits and/or spices. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall Championship.

Infusion: Infusion ranges from deep golden-yellow to amber to shades of brown. Some particulate from final firing is acceptable, but should not be excessive as to indicate baking or aging. Very aromatic with notes of pit fruits, roasted grains, orchids, honey and fruit and nut tree blossoms. Smooth mouthfeel deep and very lingering flavor and aroma.

Category: Dong Ding (Tung Ting)

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Leaf: A mid-oxidized (30%) oolong in a semi-balled leaf shape with varying shades of green and light brown.

Infusion: Pale green-gold to golden-amber infusion. A sweet medium-bodied, smooth and creamy infusion with notes of orchids and nuts with little to no astringency.

Category: Green Oolong

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Lightly to mid-oxidized oolong of any leaf shape or style. 9Examples may include, but are not limited to, Ali Shan, Huang Jin Gui, Jade Oolongs, etc.) This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall Championship.

Infusion: Infusions yield a clear green or golden color with floral and pit fruit tastes.

Category: Milk Oolong

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: Taiwan

Leaf: Jin Xuan variety oolong of any grade, also referred to as #12. May NOT contain flavoring agents. Though the name implies that milk is used in the processing, no milk (or any other dairy or non-dairy) is used in the making of this tea.

Infusion: Infusion has a velvety buttery creaminess, aroma and taste. A subtle creamy, buttery floral tea that is soothing and comforting.

Category: Ti Kuan Yin (Jade)

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: A light to medium oxidized semi-balled oolong leaf typically from Anxi in Fujian province of China. Leaf will have light to mild baking.

Infusion: Infusion is a pale yellow to green in color. Particulate from baking is NOT deemed acceptable. Very aromatic ranging from floral to fruity, with slight aroma from mild baking. Taste is mild, sweet and subtly complex, with flavors including floral, fruity and mildly vegetal.

Category: Ti Kuan Yin (Traditional)

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Oolong

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: A light to medium oxidized semi-balled oolong leaf typically from Anxi in Fujian province of China. Leaf will have moderate to heavy bakey character.

Infusion: Infusion is a pale yellow to golden in color with no brown or green tones. Particulate from baking is acceptable. Very aromatic ranging from floral to fruity, with noticeable aromatics from baking. Taste is mild, sweet and subtly complex, with flavors including nutty, fruity and mildly vegetal.

Category: Blended Rooibos

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Rooibos/Honeybush

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Rooibos (green, red, or honeybush) of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin. May not contain any flavoring agents.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the rooibos taste may not be in the forefront; notes of rooibos should be present and detectable. 

Category: Flavored Rooibos

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Rooibos/Honeybush

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Rooibos (green, red, or honeybush) of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored rooibos where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the rooibos taste may not be in the forefront; notes of rooibos should be present and detectable. 

Category: White Peony (Bai Mu Dan)

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: White

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: Leaf that is not intentionally oxidized of any grade made in the classic style of processing, typically from the Fujian province of China. Tightly curled buds with 2 or 3 tender young leaves. Buds should have a nice downy appearance. The leaves are a combination of tips, broken leaf and larger unbroken leaf in colors that range from silvery white to shades of green and brown.

Infusion: The infusion is a clear, pale yellow with a sweet wet hay aroma and a velvety smooth, sweet, mild flavor with notes of floral nuttiness.

Category: Blended White

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: White

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: White tea of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin. May not contain any flavoring agents.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the white tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the white tea should be present and detectable. 

Category: Flavored White

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: White

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: White tea of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored white tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the white tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the white tea should be present and detectable.  Particulate is acceptable for the hairs of the buds.

Category: Silver Needles

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: White

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: Bud ONLY grade that is not intentionally oxidized and made in the classic style of processing, typically from the Fujian province of China. Buds should be plump needle-like and have a nice downy appearance. Colors range from silvery white to shades of green.

Infusion: Infusion is a pale-yellow color with smooth, sweet, elegant floral taste. Notes of sweet honey and pit fruits with a silky-smooth finish. Particulate is acceptable for the hairs of the buds.

Category: White Tea

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: White

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Naturally oxidized leaf of any grade made in the classic style of processing. Leaf may contain tightly curled buds, buds and young leaves, or just young leaves. Buds should have a nice downy appearance. Colors can range from silvery white to shades of green and brown. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall Championship.

Infusion: The infusion is a clear, pale yellow or straw color with a sweet wet hay aroma and a velvety smooth, sweet, mild flavor with notes of floral nuttiness.

Category: Yellow Tea

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Yellow

Country of Origin: China

Leaf: Leaf is processed like that of green tea with the added step of sweltering after de-enzyming. Leaf has a yellowing of the green color due to this unique step. This style of leaf is typically produced in Sichuan, Hunan and Anhui provinces of China. Leaf is typically buds or young leaves and buds.

Infusion: Infusion is golden yellow in color, with a mellower and less grassy taste than what is typically found in Chinese green teas.

Category: Genmaimatcha

Championship: Signature

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Japan

Leaf: Steamed green tea leaf of any grade from Japan (typically Sencha or Bancha) blended with roasted hulled rice kernels, and matcha. Rice kernels may have popped to resemble popped corn.

Infusion: Infusion is a bright green to gold and will be cloudy due to the matcha. Infusion is fresh and grassy with a nutty savor flavor. Blend must be balanced between tea, matcha, and rice kernels.

Category: Matcha Blend - Botanicals

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Matcha from Japan

Leaf: Japanese finely ground matcha of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin. May not be genmaimatcha, which has its own category.

Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the green tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the green tea should be present and detectable. Hazy infusions with particulate may be present.

Category: Steamed + Pan Fired Green

Championship: General

Tea Base Type: Green

Country of Origin: Any

Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that has been both steamed and pan-fired. It is important that the tea submitted has gone through both a steaming process and a pan-firing process. If the tea has only gone through one of the processes than it should be entered into that category and not this one. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall championship.

Infusion: Infusion will be complex and have characteristics of both steamed and pan-fired green tea.  

March Competition Category Definitions:

Please note: Signature teas are single origin teas that that represent a specific tea type or standard. General teas are every tea outside of the Signature description such as less common teas, open class, blends, flavors, etc.

Category: Assam
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: India
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from the Assam region of India that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is neat, well graded with black, copper and mahogany color with potentially golden tips.
Infusion: Wet leaf is coppery in color. Infusion is bright and clear, deeply colored amber with a rich full bodied, malty flavor with pungent astringency.

Category: Black Tea (Machine Processed)
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any machine processed grade from one single origin that contains no other botanical. Leaf is of uniformly sized irregular shaped balls. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall championship.
Infusion: Rich brown to red-brown color with a good, strong, well balanced flavor.

Category: Black Tea (Orthodox Processed)
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any orthodox processed grade from one single origin that contains no other botanical. This leaf does not qualify for any other hot tea category whether in the Spring or Fall championship.
Infusion: Infusion is golden brown to reddish brown to coppery in color. Medium to full body with mild astringency and an array of aromas and tastes.

Category: Blended Black
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the black tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the black tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Breakfast Tea
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is marketed as a breakfast tea. May be of single origin or blend of origins. May not contain any flavoring agents or other botanicals.
Infusion: Infusion is bright and clear with rich, reddish-brown hues. Medium to full bodied and brisk. Astringent and robust enough to withstand milk and sugar, but balanced enough to drink straight.

Category: Masala Chai
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is blended with several whole or cut spices in the traditional Indian fashion. May contain flavoring agents.
Infusion: Infusion is full and astringent enough to accept a dilution of milk and sugar without losing much flavor. Tea is blended with an array of spices which may include (but is not limited to) cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, clove, liquorice root, star anise, fennel, etc.

Category: Darjeeling 2nd Flush
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: India
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from the Darjeeling region of India that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is typically harvested between May and June where the finished leaf is mainly brown mingled with hints of olive green and golden tips.
Infusion: Infusion is pale amber in color with a sweet honey like flavor with notes of brown sugar and cocoa. Aroma reveals a muscatel grape that is very typical of this flush which is carried through the finish.

Category: Darjeeling Autumnal Flush
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: India
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from the Darjeeling region of India that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is typically harvested after the summer monsoon season where the finished leaf display various tones of copper with hints of greenish-brown and possibly golden tips.
Infusion: Infusion is a dark mahogany color with a smoother more rounded mature flavor. A woody nose with notes of stewed red fruits and spices. Full bodied with a long finish, which might be spicy or peppery yet maintaining the muscatel flavor.

Category: Earl Grey Black
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent of bergamot. May contain other botanicals.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out bergamot flavored black tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the black tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the black tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Flavored Black
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored black tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the black tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the black tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Keemun
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: China
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from the Qi Men, Anhui Province of China that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is neat, well graded, small and black that may contain gold tips.
Infusion: Infusion is clear with a medium, burnt orange coloring. Flavor is smooth, medium to full bodied, well rounded with a mild astringency with piney, floral and/or wine like notes.

Category: Lapsang Souchong
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: China
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade typically from the Fujian Province of China that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is neat, well graded, intensely black and has been intentionally dried over smoking pine wood fire. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Infusion is a dark red brown color with a distinctive smoky aroma and flavor.

Category: Yunnan
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: China
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from the Yunnan Province of China that contains no other botanical. Dry leaf is neat, well graded, and brown that may contain gold tips.
Infusion: Infusion is golden reddish brown, full bodied and complex in flavors ranging from peppery to woodsy to sweet fruity.

Category: Gunpowder
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Green
Country of Origin: China
Leaf: Green tea leaf, typically from the Zhejiang Province of China, that has been rolled to look like gunpowder pellets. The leaf grade can be tightly rolled (referred to as pinhead) or a larger more loosely rolled style. Leaf is green to gray-green in color.
Infusion: Infusion is pale yellow to amber in color. Medium bodied tea with slight astringency with roasted nutty toasted notes with a lasting aftertaste.

Category: Hojicha
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Green
Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf: Green tea leaf (typically sencha or bancha) of any grade that has been roasted or pan fired to an oaky brown color.
Infusion: Infusion is a rich amber color with little astringency. The flavor is mild, slightly toasty caramel flavor.

Category: Jasmine Green (Open Leaf)
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Green
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that has not been rolled into pearls in which jasmine petals where used to naturally scent the tea leaf. May contain jasmine petals, but doesn’t have to. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Infusion is predominantly jasmine in aroma with a vegetal green undertone. Infusion is bright, clear and golden green in color with light to medium bodied. Flavor is a well-balanced sweet jasmine floral with some astringency with notes of the green tea base underneath.

Category: Jasmine Green (Pearl)
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Green
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade that has been rolled into pearls in which jasmine petals where used to naturally scent the tea leaf. May contain jasmine petals, but doesn’t have to. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Infusion is predominantly jasmine in aroma with a vegetal green undertone. Infusion is pale to warm ivory in color with light to medium bodied. Flavor is a well-balanced sweet jasmine floral with some astringency with notes of the green tea base underneath.

Category: Kukicha
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Green
Country of Origin: Japan
Leaf: A fibrous, stalky mixture of dark green stems and straw colored pieces.
Infusion: Infusion is a pale yellow green color that is mild with no astringency. Subtly fragrant with a clean nutty sweet flavor.

Category: Moroccan Mint
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Green
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Green tea leaf of any grade, typically from China like gunpowder or chun mee, blended with mint, typically spearmint. However, any blend of green tea and mint will qualify for this category. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Infusion is pale yellow to amber in color. Medium bodied tea with slight astringency with sweet, minty, nutty, and vegetal flavor.

Category: Blended Oolong
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Oolong
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Semi-oxidized leaf of any grade or leaf style that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the oolong tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the oolong tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Flavored Oolong
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Oolong
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Semi-oxidized leaf of any grade or leaf style that is flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored oolong tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the oolong tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the oolong tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Ginseng Oolong
Championship: Signature
Tea Base Type: Oolong
Country of Origin: China
Leaf: Lightly oxidized leaf that has been blended with powdered ginseng to create dense olive-green pellets of irregular shape.
Infusion: Infusion is pale yellow to amber in color with a floral aroma. A rich clean oolong taste with a strong pleasing ginseng aftertaste which is surprisingly sweet.

Category: Blended Pu-erh/Dark
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Pu-erh/Dark
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Tea of any age or type that has undergone a secondary post manufacturing microbial fermentation step or aging process, whether aging is intentionally accelerated or not. Must be blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the pu-erh/dark tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the pu-erh/dark tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Dark Tea
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Dark Tea
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Tea of any age or type that has undergone a secondary post manufacturing microbial fermentation step or aging process, whether aging is intentionally accelerated or not. This leaf must not come from the Yunnan Province of China.
Infusion: Infusion is amber to rich dark brown in color. Medium to full bodied cup with notes that are earthy, woody, reminiscent of damp autumn leaves, molasses, and/or hints of spice. Little to no astringency.

Category: Flavored Pu-erh/Dark
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Pu-erh/Dark
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Tea of any age or type that has undergone a secondary post manufacturing microbial fermentation step or aging process, whether aging is intentionally accelerated or not. Must be flavored using a flavoring agent. May contain other botanicals.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored pu-erh/dark tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the pu-erh/dark tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the pu-erh/dark tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Pu-erh
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Pu-erh
Country of Origin: China
Leaf: Tea of any age or type that has undergone a secondary post manufacturing microbial fermentation step or aging process, whether aging is intentionally accelerated or not. This leaf must come from the Yunnan Province of China.
Infusion: Infusion is amber to rich dark brown in color. Medium to full bodied cup with notes that are earthy, woody, reminiscent of damp autumn leaves, molasses, and/or hints of spice. Little to no astringency.

Category: Decaf
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade from one single origin that contains no other botanical that has gone through a decaffeination process. Decaffeination may be done through super critical carbon dioxide process or ethyl acetate process.
Infusion: Infusion is golden brown to reddish brown to coppery in color. Medium body with mild astringency and an array of aromas and tastes.

Category: Blended Decaf
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is blended with at least one other botanical not of Camellia sinensis in origin that has gone through a decaffeination process. Decaffeination may be done through super critical carbon dioxide process or ethyl acetate process. May not contain any flavoring agents.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out blend where each ingredient has a reason for being part of the blend. Though the black tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the black tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Flavored Decaf
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Black
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Fully oxidized leaf of any grade that is flavored using a flavoring agent that has gone through a decaffeination process. Decaffeination may be done through super critical carbon dioxide process or ethyl acetate process. May contain other botanicals.
Infusion: Well balanced, thought-out flavored black tea where the flavoring is not distracting and enhances the tea experience. Flavoring agent should not give off notes that are medicinal, chemical, perfumey or have notes of alcohol. When other botanicals are used, each should have a reason for being part of the flavored blend. Though the black tea taste may not be in the forefront; notes of the black tea should be present and detectable.

Category: Unique Tea Open Class
Championship: General
Tea Base Type: Any
Country of Origin: Any
Leaf: Unique tea that is typically made in small batches or specific times a year. This category is for teas that are highly specialized and do not fall into a specific category. These teas are often rare, hard to find, unique, and/or so specialized there are few if any other teas like it made anywhere in the world. Examples of this tea could include, but not limited to, African Purple Tea, First Flush Japanese Black Tea, Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from China, Lotus Tea from Vietnam, etc.
Infusion: Infusions will vary in color, aroma, and flavor. Teas will be judged individually based on its own merits. For this category judges will be given the tea name to help judging, but company names will not be known.