Now…… there are loose ends to this too. These are things that, I think, are useful, but your mileage may vary.
Spent leaves — this is really quite interesting, as I think spent leaves often tell you a lot more about the tea than one would initially realize. I think spent leaves tell you a lot about the processing and (in the case of aged teas) storage conditions of the tea in question. For example, look at this
Two different teas, clearly. I don’t remember much about these, as they were taken quite a few years ago, but if I’m not mistaken, the top tea is probably younger than the bottom one, and is of the “smaller factory” variety. There’s not a whole lot that one can reliably tell from spent leaves alone, especially without the accompanying smells and tastes, but there are things that one can do to, for example, verify what was in the cup during the tasting. It can, in other words, help confirm or deny theories about the tea.
Lengxiang — literally “cold aroma”, this is what’s left in the cup long after the tea has been consumed. It is not so useful, again, especially since lengxiang is rarely nasty (although it is possible). Nevertheless, another piece of the puzzle.
Cold tasting — the later cups, for example, can also be drunk cold, or at least, cooled. I think sometimes when tasting tea that is too hot it is actually difficult to get much out of it — the aromas or the tastes can be obscured by the temperature. Cooling the tea down by waiting or other, more artificial means, can actually help enhance the sensory sensitivity.
Now……. the last problem is of course price, but that, really, is a separate topic that I have talked about many times before. On that, no more.