The highest quality tea leaves can be identified using four of your five senses: sight, smell, touch, and taste (although how amazing would it be to hear the sound of tea as well?). We’ve compiled a list of how to assess each of these senses to determine that your tea is the quality you seek.
Whether you prefer loose-leaf tea or teabags, your tea leaves will be processed differently. Teabags contain leaves that have gone through CTC or cut, tear, curl; this delivers a quick and strong brew but trades off the deeply aromatic quality of loose-leaf tea. The Orthodox method is used to prepare loose-leaf tea; you will find that these leaves have been rolled and look fresh. Avoid loose-leaf tea that appears dry, woody, or crumbly.
High-quality tea has intensely aromatic qualities you can easily smell with a deep inhalation. When brewed, you will find that the aromas of the dry leaves are greatly enhanced. If you find that you can only smell traces of the tea’s scent, that may be a sign that it is either getting old or not high-quality.
Tea leaves should feel how they look: sturdy, supple, and wholesome. The higher the quality of the leaves, the heavier they should feel. If the tea leaves are feather-light, they’ve been overly dried or are getting old. Your tea leaves should not disintegrate when held; they should be smooth, slippery, and stuck together.
The best tasting-tea will have a smooth mouthfeel and roll over the tongue. Regardless of the type of tea (whether black, green, or herbal), you will find that high-quality tea leaves activate several tastebud sensations when sipped. Suppose the flavor is barely noticeable, overly astringent, or has a chemical aftertaste, that is a telltale sign that the tea is lower quality or has outlived its viable shelf life.
You can learn to tell when tea leaves are high-quality by paying special attention to each of your senses. The mind and body connection gives us information about everything, especially when intentionally tuned in. You’ll find this is true for your tea-drinking practice as well.
At Bravo Tea, we are committed to delivering you the highest-quality teas grown with earth-friendly practices, whether wild-gathered, organically grown, or cultivated at our farm on the Tibetan Plateau. Want to learn more about our teas? Call us–we’d love to connect with you!