How Do You Select Good Tea
Everybody wants good tea and is quick to say it is important to find good tea. however, what specific tips and tricks do you use to find good tea? And also to put the question in the inverse, what red flags do you look for to stop you from buying from a merchant?
A good sign of a good tea is when it uses full sized leaves (or not too terribly broken). I also reference tasting notes.
A red flag for me is when there’s no image of the leaf on the website. I like to see what I’m buying. I feel like a shop is more confident in their tea if they show it off, making you want to buy it just by looking at it.
Another red flag is when they can’t tell you where their tea is from. If all it says is “black tea” then I’ll just move on.
In store, I check how its stored. Do they open the entire tin to let you smell or just a sample? Is the tea just sitting out in the open, uncovered? (I saw that today, in the sun too, ick).
It is also nice if they can tell you year it was picked and such.
Best, of course, is checking reviews on Steepster regarding the company and tea. This helps very very much!
All fails, get a sample. There’s been many tea sellers I will pass on if I cannot purchase a sample.
- if the tea is exposed to air or light. Samples in the open are OK, but not the main tea.
- if they have no brewing instructions, or the brewing instructions are generic to all types of tea, or even within a type. The very best tea sellers will give brewing instructions specific to each tea.
- edit – if seller says EVERYTHING can be resteeped several times. Not everything can! A good reseller will say how many times something can be resteeped which can totally vary from year to year – and some wonderful great quality teas may not resteep well, seller should be aware of that!
- it should have a “best before” date. It´s actually a legal requirement here, but I have not seen it on some teas, and it is always a good thing to know, particularly when you forget when you bought something.
- when buying online, just go for reputable sellers. Photos of stock can be stolen or faked anyway.
I am not TOO bothered about teas being called just “black” or “green” or something – multiorigin blends can be great, and some very reliable resellers can be very evasive about the origins or flavourings of some blended teas. Leaf size can be deceptive sometimes as well before steeped. And for some black teas, I really do not mind if they are ctc, it works! (though ctc should always be cheaper!)
Thanks for the input everyone…
Any more tips on finding what teas to purchase?
What other qualities do you look for when purchasing?
I just look for good reviews on steepster.
I tend to find most of my favorite teas through trial and error. I try to sample a large number of teas and then just repurchase my faves. Sampler packs, smaller sizes, trades with other tea drinkers and free samples are all good ways to try teas without investing a lot. If I’m somewhere where they serve tea and they have some I haven’t tried before, I usually will give them a shot.
I drink a lot of flavored teas, so I also will be tempted to try flavors that sound interesting to me. I’ll often focus on companies that have been recommended here, but if I read about a tea in a blog that sounds interesting, I’ll try to get a sample or a small size to taste.