To be able to identify the quality of any product is a prized skill to have, one that not only takes years of studying but also an ample understanding of the product one wishes to specialize in. Tea connoisseurs have various measures to identify high-quality tea as well as compare various blends against one another. When it comes to loose tea leaves, it's easier to determine their quality in comparison to tea bags. By simply relying on your five senses you will be able to separate high-quality tea from the not-so-great ones. So if you have an interest in this delicious beverage and wish to learn how to get the best out of your tea drinking experience, let us introduce you to a guide.
What to look for? – The first step in identifying the quality of the tea is how it looks. How tea is processed greatly affects how it looks which also impacts the taste. Tea is processed using two methods namely the CTC method which is cut, tear curl, or the Orthodox method. The CTC method has the leaves sent through a machine that cuts, tears and curls them into smaller pellets, which deliver a dark strong brew. These leaves brew quickly but sacrifice the more subtle aromas of the tea making it ideal for teabags. In the Orthodox process, the tea leaves are left whole and handled delicately to avoid breakage ensuring the leaf’s aromatic compounds are preserved and this also retains the complex flavors of the leaves. Loose leaves which are of high quality look like dried tea leaves and are not crumbly and unfurl slowly when you steep them. When you purchase loose leaves make sure that they do not have stalks or woody fragments, these make the flavors less complex.
How it should feel? – High-quality tea leaves carry a bit of heft when held, they should feel how they look, smooth, whole, and sturdy. If they feel light, it's an indication that the tea leaves are old and over-dried. High-quality loose tea leaves do not crumble when gently handle and when steeped are smooth to touch.
The aroma – We all are mesmerized by the aroma of tea when it's being brewed and this aroma of course comes from high-quality leaves. High-quality leaves have a distinct aroma irrespective of what kind they are. Every kind of tea also has an aroma that will help you identify its quality. For example, green tea has a grassy smell that is light and fresh, and high-quality black tea smells earthy, floral, and sweet. To identify the quality of tea, take a small quantity and inhale deeply if you get only small traces of scent it's an indicator that the leaves are not of good quality and are stale. So look for deep aromatic scents when buying your tea leaves.
Great taste – Though this will be an identifier once you have already bought the tea leaves and brewed them, it's the best way to learn the quality of the tea. Tea brewed from high-quality tea leaves is known to have a strong and distinct taste. The best way to enjoy every bit of a flavor from a cup of freshly brewed tea is to sip the tea slowly and allowing the tea to roll over on your tongue. Drinking it this way you will be able to notice the various flavors and notes. Black tea, when brewed, has a deep intense taste, green tea tastes smooth and is refreshing. If you can barely notice the flavors in your tea and notice an unpleasant chemical taste, avoid the tea leaves because they are of low quality.
We hope these rough guidelines, enhance your tea drinking experience. Now you would at least have a rough idea about what to look for when buying tea leaves and the more you try it the better you will get in identifying quality tea leaves. So explore the world of tea leaves, trust us the journey is worth it.