Look on any supermarket shelf and you’ll see the many types of tea available. Loose leaf tea, herbal tea, green tea, decaffeinated tea… the list goes on, and it can be tricky to choose between all these options. It is also difficult to define the quality of the tea just by looking at the packet. Luckily, there are simple ways to identify a high quality tea. Make sure your tea meets your standards by following this quick guide.
1. Appearance of the Leaves
Every tea is different and tea leaves may be like needles, beads, seeds, or even powder. Judge the quality of the leaves by looking at how even they are. If they are large leaves, are they all roughly the same size? Check that there are few broken or crushed leaves as this is a sign that the tea will not taste as fresh. In general, tea leaves should be young-looking, not old. Check there are no odd additions to the leaves, such as wood chips or stalks.
2. Source of the Tea
Make sure you get a better brew by sourcing your tea from a reputable retailer, such as a quality tea shop online or a specialist store on the high street. Tea from a professional generally tastes better, looks better, and has more health-giving properties. The mass-market tea you buy from the supermarket is fine for an everyday drink, but for something special you need to look further afield.
Tea is big business, but suppliers of high quality tea also pay attention to the human and environmental side of the process. A high-quality tea supplier puts an emphasis on sustainability, fair trade, and ethical concerns. Choosing a sustainable solution is particularly important when it comes to safeguarding the environment and protecting tea-growing areas from the effects of climate change. Look for a sustainability policy or the company’s commitment to environmental and social protection.
4. Tea Colour
Each tea, when brewed, is coloured in a unique way – oolong tea is greeny-brown, green tea is bright green, black tea is, as the name suggests, very dark in colour. Find an exceptional tea by checking that these colours are defined and vibrant. For example, an oolong should be a fine shade of brown and not look sludgy. A green tea should be powerfully coloured.
Try to taste the tea before you commit to buying a full packet if you possibly can. Taste is the sure-fire way to ascertain the value of the drink. Of course, taste depends on personal preference. But an excellent tea is fresh and lively. It may have a bitter initial flavour but this quickly smooths into a more mellow aftertaste. A superior tea has its own distinctive aroma and the flavour lingers in the mouth, providing a relaxing and satisfying experience. Ultimately, by sitting down and savouring your tea you can discover its value and decide if you want to commit to this particular type and brand.