What kind of tea is the high grade tea or quality tea?

It’s the best tea, High Price? or Freshest tea ? What factors can decide its quality and flavor? Can you give an answer? Sometimes, the same leaves can be made into some different quality teas.

14 Replies
Ross Duff said

Depends entirely on the type of tea.
Color in sheng Pu Erh is what I look for when I can’t taste it.
Tight Rolling and Minimal breakage of oolongs.
Freshness of scent and no chemical smell are a must.

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mbanu said

High quality tea is grown from quality-producing tea cultivars grown in favorable regions. It is generally from higher altitudes, but not always. It follows a fine plucking standard – 2 leaves & a bud or less. It is generally from the slow-growing flushes, as these allow flavor to develop. The leaves are treated delicately in transport, and it is tea that has been carefully processed for its grade – this processing differs depending on the type of tea (the standards for a British-style Assam are different than a Japanese green, or even from a Chinese Keemun… there is usually official or unofficial standards information available to producers, even if this is not so available to the average consumer). The end tea is aromatic and well-rolled, is transported carefully to reduce excessive handling and break up of the leaves, and arrives at the end consumer while still fresh (and of course they must then brew it properly).

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If this question were asked of me in my retail shop, I would likely respond in the most general terms.
The Best Quality tea is Whole Leaf and loose tea. We find the flavor to be fuller and provide more depth and aromatics in your cup. The tea can also be resteeped, often multiple times.
Choose shops that have a high rate of turn-over. Ask which tea they have to re-order the most often. In that way you will likely get the freshest. And a good flavorful tea, judged by popularity.
Factors for quality and freshness may also be reflected in how the manufacturers package their tea and how a retailer stores it. Limited exposure to air and light are also important.
Many of my guests are only just realizing how much better whole leaf/loose is from the long familiar bag tea.
Just my thoughts from Tea Shop experiences. I look forward to learning more here at steepster.

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Simple said

I would think it being Organic/ Fair Trade. Also what company it comes from, then price.

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i agree with those who said price is not a good factor to consider. there is a lot more that goes into the price of tea than just the tea itself, for instance: overhead, the desire to appear as a luxury brand, size of the company (economies of scale), the desire to keep prices low for customers, what the competition charges, etc.

I’ve seen organic and fair trade teas snubbed a lot by tea enthusiasts but there are some great organics out there. i have to admit, i haven’t really pursued the fair trade teas that much but i have tasted a few decent ones.

i tend to look for teas that have similar sized leaves (for an even brewing). i also examine the color, smell the tea, but I do a lot of tasting to determine quality. for me the tea experience is about using all of the senses (well, not really hearing) and as long as i am enjoying the tea that is what matters the most not how much i paid for it.

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Lori said

Still it is frustrating to know which vendor supplies the best teas (especially when purchasing non blended and flavored teas)…

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viconyteas said

In our view, there are several factors which can largely determine the quality of tea and We give the weight of each factor as following:

Growing Area 60%
Production Skills and Methods 15%
Tealeaves Harvest Time 15%
Tea Cultivar 10%

Richard Zhang

Vicony Teas Company
http://www.viconyteas.com/

By growing area, are you also including the age of the tea plants and the quality of soil (presence of minerals)? I like the way you broke down the categories (though, I am not at all an expert!).
I have heard that trees that are only harvested only once per year, that are old and have huge root systems that can take in greater amounts of nutrients, and soil that is rich in those minerals/nutrients, have a much bigger impact on the quality of the tea than the production methods.

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viconyteas said

Yes, the quality of soil is very important. It combining with climate are two most vital factors which basically decide whether the area is good for planting tea trees.

“I have heard that trees that are only harvested only once per year”

No, in China, in most tea planting areas, tea trees are to be harvested for several times, at least three( during Spring, Summer and Fall respectively ) times.

I don’t include the age of tea tree into the first factor(Growing Area). Maybe, I think it can be included into the last factor(tea cultivar). It can infuence the quality of tea but it doesn’t play a big role.

In addition, I don’t think old tea trees are good, maybe you can say tea trees in prime age are good.

Richard Zhang

Wholesale Chinese Tea
http://www.viconyteas.com/tea-wholesale.html

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Here is a little about tea quality:
http://hojotea.com/info_e/qualitye.htm

Go down to “Definition of Quality Tea”- the short article says it is 4 things (again, according to this particular website):
Altitude, Age of Tree, Cultivar, Number of Plucking

Wow. Thank you Shinobi_cha for the link. I found the article very interesting; for me, the author gives great insight on how to define the elusive concpet of ‘quality tea.’

You’re welcome!

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Chi of Tea said

Even the standard grading doesn’t really apply on the real deal teas. What I mean is, there are high grade factory teas and there are hand processed fresh tea, which in my opinion are higher grade because they are less adulterated and provide an experience that high grade factory tea just can not offer. Even if this leaf is crushed, ugly, has twigs and has unusual fragrances.

The real question is, can you get more? How fresh is the tea?

If a small farm only had 100 kilos that year, which flush is it? There will never be more.

Quality is in the eye of the beholder

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