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How to select tea?

How to Choose and Buy Loose Leaf Teas

The wide varieties of tea types, regions, and grades can make tea purchasing a really difficult mission.

In general, consumers can follow some simple guidelines when purchasing teas.

1. Judgment by the appearance

Appearance usually shows a lot about a tea’s quality. High quality tea requires the complete dehydration of the leaves, usually in full-leave shape. You will also find fewer tea dusts, yellow leaves and stalks in high quality tea. More specifically each tea type follows its own standard and the leaves make different appearance after being rolled. For example, the appearance of Long Jing tea is sword-shaped, and Dong Ding tea is semi-balled. The color of the drink is also an important factor. Depending on fermentation process and manufacturing procedure, the colors of teas could vary from dark to light, but good quality tea usually appears to be clear in color. Avoid teas with turbid or gray color.

2. Smell of the leaves

A good tea always gives a pleasant floral or fruity smell out of its leaves. One thing you could do to ensure a tea’s quality is to give a good sniff to the leaves to ensure they carry no burnt, grassy or oily odor before brewing.

3. Taste of the tea

After looking at the appearance and sniffing the leaves, and if they are both appealing, the next thing you most certainly would do is to give the tea a taste. For any type of tea, if the quality is brilliant, it will always carry flavor that is pure and mellow, and the delicious brew should leave you a smoothing comfort lingering at your throat, long after the liquid leaves it. On top of the said quality, different tea carries different characteristic flavor. For example the bliss of the almond-green colored Long Jing Green tea’s flavor will leave you refreshed for a while. The rich floral flavor of Four Season Oolong tea will surprise you with its amazing taste of floral, leaving behind any astringent or bitter taste. Dong Ding Oolong tea liquor has a transparent golden color and full-bodied flavor; Oriental Beauty tea liquor produces a gorgeous orange-yellow color and a natural-mature fruit or honey like aroma.

4. Look of the infused leaves

Now that you have inspected the appearance, sniffed the smell and tasted the tea. You now find that it is indeed a good tea. Usually it is sufficient enough, but if you are being really cautious and take time to ensure the quality of a tea like us, the fully infused leaves can tell a story too! What you could do is to separate the fully infused and expanded tea leaves away from the liquid to inspect the leave’s color, age, bud size to determine the quality of the raw leave and the degree of fermentation. After tasting, the drinkers may remove the fully infused leaves, and put them on a tray to see whether their color and shape are good.

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