How to choose the right tea

Continuing on our efforts to bring the best quality and taste in teas in this post we would like to elaborate on how to choose the perfect loose leaf tea among all the available varieties.

Don’t worry, we are only going to cover the basics that will help you understand the difference between different tea types, taste and flavour profiles. The five important characteristics of choosing the right tea are

  • Type of tea
  • Leaf Size
  • Intensity of Taste
  • Colour of the liquor
  • Aroma

Choosing the right type of tea

As you may know all True Teas are made from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis, and can be broadly divided into four categories, depending on the amount of oxidation involved in their processing as White Tea, Green Tea, Oolong Tea and Black Tea

  • White tea: Considered the healthiest of all teas, White teas are made from the young bud and two top-most leaves of the tea plant. They are the rarest and least processed of all teas, and retain their natural silver-white downy appearance. White teas have a very subtle aroma and a delicate, sweet flavour. They yield a pale golden infusion.
  • Green Tea: Minimally processed and made from unoxidized tea leaves, Green teas retain their natural colour, tannins, and chlorophyll. Green teas from every region have distinct aromas, and flavours vary from vegetal and grassy to floral or smoky. They yield a pale/bright green or golden yellow infusion.
  • Oolong Tea: With oxidation levels lying midway between Green teas and Black teas, Oolong teas combine the freshness of the former with the robust flavour of the latter.  Much desired amongst connoisseurs, the finest Oolongs are cultivated in either China or Taiwan, and produce aromatic infusions that range from amber brown to pale golden-green in colour. Oolongs contain notes that range from chocolaty, burnt sugar to fruity and light floral.
  • Black Teas: Fully oxidized and strongly flavored, Black teas are the most popular teas in the world. Cultivated in China, India, and Sri Lanka, theyproduce infusions that vary from dark brown to a deep russet in colour. Their flavour are malty and strong, and contain notes that range from fruity to chocolaty. Black teas may be consumed with milk and sugar, either hot or iced.

Depending on your taste palate, affinity to caffeine or the type of food you are having you can choose the type of tea. Apart from the above four tea types herbal teas or tisanes are also widely consumed and well known for their mellow taste and perceived therapeutic properties.

  • Herbal blends include flavorful combinations of herbs, roots, flowers, and other botanicals including berries, nuts, cocoa, etc. They are caffeine-free, and can be enjoyed both hot and iced.
  • Rooibos: Also known as the ‘red tea’ due to its ruby coloured infusion, Rooibos is made from the leaves of a shrub that only grows in South Africa. It is 100% caffeine-free and possesses a naturally sweet flavour.

Once you have selected the type of tea, take a note of the leaf size of the tea. Is the tea visually appealing? Do the leaves unfurl into full leaves after brewing? Is the leaf broken, short, curly or long? The size and appearance of the leaf will also have a significant impact on the taste of the tea.

A broken leaf may add a lot of colour to your cup and would have dark and strong taste. If brewed for more than a few minutes you may end up with a bitter cup of tea. This is mostly the case with majority tea bags or tea fannings available in the market.

Here’s a quick tea tasting guide for beginners:

Along with the leaf size the aroma of the tea will have a dramatic effect on what the tea tastes like. You will know in a sniff if the tea you are about to have is a good quality tea or not. Surprisingly identifying a good tea is as easy as sniff, slurp, sip!