There is always something special about finding and using the perfect tea leaves and using it to create an exquisitely brewed cup of tea. It’s always important to be able to identify high-tea leaves. If you simply rely upon your 4 senses, this process will be a lot easier. Here’s how you should observe your tea leaves.
Sight: In the Orthodox method, teas are rolled, preserving the leaves’ aromatic compounds and retaining the tea’s complex flavors. Therefore, high-quality loose leaf tea leaves should look, well, like tea leaves. Avoid loose leaf tea that looks crumbly or appears to contain a lot of stalks and woody fragments, as it will be less flavorful and complex.
Touch: In general, high-quality dried tea leaves should feel how they look: smooth, whole and sturdy. It should also have a slight heft in your hands; if your tea feels feather-light, it may be an indication that it was over-dried or is getting old.
Smell: high-quality tea will have a distinct aroma. For eg, if you steep your tea the smell should be deeply aromatic and delivers the scents of the dry tea leaves.
Taste: Good quality tea will have a strong taste and feel. Sip slowly, allowing the tea to roll over different parts of your tongue; you should be able notice different flavor notes and mouthfeels. Regardless of what type of tea you’re sipping, excellent tea will activate different flavor sensations on your tongue as you drink.
Next time you sample a new tea, be sure to run through these four senses: sight, touch, smell and taste.