What kind of tea is the high grade tea or quality tea?
Hand-rolling can preserve quality, but if it isn’t in the leaves to begin with, it can’t create it. Of course, you can flavor teas, but then you’re talking about the quality of the flavoring, not of the tea. :)Genuinely adulterated tea isn’t allowed import in most tea markets, and is illegal to make in many tea-producing countries. If pesticide residues are too high, or if word spreads that they use artificial coloring or are doping their teas, they will have a very difficult time. Especially since the number of bulk buyers is much smaller than the number of growers.
Significant twig and stem content suggests that care was not taken in the plucking process; it may even suggest that while the tea may be “hand processed”, it is mechanically harvested. Until they invent an effective mechanical plucker that can preserve leaf quality, I’d much prefer hand-plucked, mechanically processed teas to the reverse.
Unusual fragrances are fine, as long as they aren’t “spoilage” fragrances that suggest the tea was not cared for properly.
Crushed leaf is just fine as long as the plucking standard is good. :) On the other hand, if the leaf is hand-rolled, one wonders why the leaf is in such poor shape…
In my years of buying tea I would have to say in my own opinion make sure that your tea leaves you buy are whole-leaf or loose-leaf. These leaves should be able to have resistance to being pulled on, after they have been brewed. Most low grade tea I have drank are brittle after use and have no resistance when being pulled upon after brewed. High grade Oolong are usually rolled which gives better control in the oxidation process. Pu erh should never smell fishy if so that means it is a low grade and can sometimes have high level of yeast (yellow yeast). You should always make sure than your pu erh tea is coming from Yunnan,china. P.S Some company’s can afford artisans to man the pan woks but is very costly and time consuming. Prices go up for labor cost and ingredients used etc. Plus just because you have a fair trade label and a USDA Organic label does mean its high grade. I would never recommend buying from a store that sell bulk simple because you get what you buy. Example: I went to bulk barn and got Oolong there and it was in a dust to whole-leave form. Spent $19.00 Canadian went home brew it and tasted really bad. Certain tea have different shelve life’s… Which some people never put the the factor of high quality. Another example my tea i bought from teavivre was a pu erh and its shelf life is Permanent preservation. (9-10 years 7/15/2006. Low grade tea has a shelf life of less then year or so and sometimes 2 years. it all do to oxidation.
Quality of the tea can be judged through 6 aspects (only for loose leaf): color, shape, neat scale (grass leaf, stem), smell (aroma before bru and after bru), taste, and leafs after brewing (whether decay, dark color, rough etc), different tea has different charactors in those 6 aspects, In general, the aroma and the taste are the factors you like or not. the grade of tea is depending on the fresh leaf (bud only, 1 bud with 1 leaf, or 1 bud with 2 or 3 leaves, or only leaves), spring bud is the expensive one. dark bricks are normally the cheapest, same as black CTC bags, pu’er sheng is based on the leaves, bush leaf is cheaper than the arbor tree (arbor tree for over 300 years or more is most expensive, and not blend).
so it is difficult to judge the grade sometimes eh?