The Standards of Tea

For those of you who don’t know what I do for a living, I work in Quality Assurance. It is my job to ensure that the product my company develops, does so under specific standards. Sometimes that standard is only company wide and written in house, sometimes it is industry wide and written by a recognized governing body, be it a private company or a government. The job itself is sometimes boring, sometimes challenging, and oftentimes very stressful, especially when engineers look to circumvent standards and procedures that they’ve agreed to. Think of my profession as sort of a lawyer-for-bureaucracies, and you’ll have a decent idea of what I do.

Governments love writing standards. I deal with them every day. The food industry as them, as does the airline industry, nuclear industries, and any industry in which it’s a good idea to prevent a worst case scenario.

What’s this got to do with food?

In 2002, the British Government released a standard on how to prepare tea.

It’s called BS 6008:1980, and it literally specifies a method of “the preparation of a liquor of tea for use in sensory tests, by means of infusing the leaf.”

So what’s their method? Since they are notable Copyright enforcers, I’ll simply point you to an uncontrolled copy of the standard.

I will say that they are very specific in their approach. But there is one major flaw in this standard. No, it’s not that they don’t cover how to taste tea. That’s covered in this standard (BS 5987:1980, also a .pdf. You’ve been warned).

The big flaw in this standard is that it pre-supposes only one kind of tea. From a QA point of view, this standard is insufficient, and if asked, I would recommend to develop in house standards to supersede the BS.