If the ocean is the world for fishes and the sky is the home for birds, then water is the palace for tea leaves. As an experienced tea lover, or as a new curious explorer to the world of tea, wouldn’t you want to brew a nice cup of tea? Let the tea aroma fill the air, fill your world, and allow you to enjoy your tea peacefully. Buying good tea is the first step to brewing good tea. There are various tea leaves in the market, you might be wondering, how can I buy good tea? “A worker, who wants to perfect his work, has to sharpen his tool first”. Before you buy your tea leaves, a little bit of homework is suggested. Tea quality, although more or less subjective to the tea drinker’s knowledge, follows some basic standard. The following methods and frame of reference are used by tea masters to judge the quality of tea.
1. Is the tea dry enough? First, touch the tea leaves with your hand. If the tea leaves break when you pinch it lightly with your thumb and index finger, the degree of dryness is good. If the leaves do not break easily even after a hard pinch, the tea leaves have been softened by moisture, which will greatly affect quality.
2. Is the tea leaf complete? The shape and color of tea leaves should be even and complete. If there is a high percentage of tea stem, tea dust and other impurities inside tea leaves, quality of tea will be affected- the less the better.
3. Color and appearance Each tea has its own standard color, generally a beautiful gloss color or white fine hair are good for oolong or part of green tea while Pouchong tea has the color of frog skin with ash spots. Tea shape varies according to different kinds of tea. Dragon well tea has the shape of a sword blade. The Wenshan Pouchong tea has strips with a natural curl. Dong Ding Oolong tea comes in tightened clumps. Tieguanyin tea is spherical. The jasmine scented green tea and the black tea are thin strips or are in broken bits.
4. Smell the aroma This is one of the main factors to judge tea quality. Due to the difference in production method and degree of fermentation, the fragrance of the dry tea leaf is also different. Green tea has a delicate light fragrance while the Pouchong tea has a floral fragrance. Oolong tea has the unique ripe fruit fragrance, and the floral tea should have a fragrance that is a mixture of flower and tea. Top quality tea fragrance should be pure and rich. Moreover, if the tea has unusual smells like oil stink, burnt smell, fire smell, stuffy or other unusual smells, it is low-grade merchandise.