Tea is said to be the most consumed drink in the world, second only to water. Around 2 billion people around the world drink tea daily, and why wouldn’t they? A good cup of tea is a nice way to start a morning. Some people prefer black teas; others are after more distinct tastes and gravitate towards matcha, jamaican cocoa, or chai.
Some people would argue that any hour of the day is a good time to drink tea. This is understandable, given the health benefits, as tea contains antioxidants that help the body flush away impurities that linger in the intestines. It is also said to help with weight loss and in keeping bones strong.
If you would like to gain these from a daily cup of tea but are not sure about how to identify high-quality types of tea, there are only three things you should remember.
1. Leaf shape
High-quality leaves are even and whole. Broken ones tend to be bitter, so you should get more flavor from the tea leaves that have not disintegrated. Low quality leaves are old and thick, and will produce a weak flavor. You would want to avoid something that does not smell strong, as this means you have an older batch. You would not need to inhale deeply to get the scent of a fresh batch of tea leaves.
Aside from the shape of leaves, you should also look at whether the package contains “stuffing” like tea stalks, bamboo chips, sand, and others. Quality products should contain just the leaves, and if there is stuffing, the manufacturers may be hiding the lack of freshness in the mix.
2. Aroma or fragrance
A tea’s fragrance tells you enough about whether it is high quality or not. Merchants who mean business will let you smell the leaves. Some will even allow an experimental cup of brew. Whenever this is possible, get a sample steeped in front of you. If it is not possible for you to get a freshly steeped cup of tea at the moment of purchase, you can still inspect the fragrance.
Old teas may smell like they have been burnt or kept in a cupboard for a long time. Fresh leaves will always be more fragrant. Some types of tea, like black tea, have a naturally earthy smell. In this case, do not mistake the earthy smell for staleness. A stale batch of leaves will have little to no scent apart from the mustiness. Fresh black tea will have the earthiness intermingling with the other notes.
3. Leaf color
There are many factors that affect the color of tea leaves. Some of these include the processing technology, the species of the plant, and even the conditions where the tea was grown. For example, highlands green tea is slightly yellow, but is still brightly colored. Low-mountain or flatlands green tea is a darker green, but is also bright. High quality leaves have an even luster and smooth leaves, despite being dry. Low quality processes make coarse and dark produce.
You must make sure you’re getting the best quality leaves you can get so that you can fully enjoy your cup of tea. Checking the leaves’ shape, color, and aroma helps you make sure that you are getting the fullest flavor and benefits possible from your tea leaves.