Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Today we know an untold number of types of tea and brewing methods. Sometimes a ceremony of tea drinking is a real art. Only the best tea leaves are taken for brewing, they are treated under a specified temperature. The beverage becomes especially tasty and full of flavor.
Traditionally, such tea ceremonies are held during celebrations or important occasions. In everyday life, people typically drink bagged tea or brew black, green and sometimes flavored teas. To enjoy your tea, it should be of a very good quality.
How to choose the best quality tea
While we drink tea more often than any other beverage, we do not always know how to judge the quality of tea. Also, be aware that it is not recommended to drink green tea all the time.
Before you buy tea, first of all, study the package. A good product has a top packaging. What is different about good tea is foil, it prevents the tea from being deteriorated by moisture, UV, and air. All the properties of tea remain unchanged. Metal tea box alone is not enough.
Loose leaf teas are the best way to choose good tea as you can see it, check its appearance, flavor and even touch it. You can visually estimate the size of tea leaves – the tea of good quality has leaves not more than a centimeter and a half lengthwise. Tea leaves are rolled into balls of the same size.
You can also check the quality of tea by its color. Light or faded tea leaves can’t guarantee good quality. The color should be uniform without any patches.
Tea sprigs are not acceptable. Small leaves and buds are the sign of the best tea quality. Among other signs of quality are:
- young well-rolled leaves;
- if you press tea leaves, they should break and if you rub them between your fingers, they should turn into dust;
- rolled tea spheres are rather heavy and compact.
Lower and bigger leaves are ground and they are sold at available prices. If there are clumps in the tea mix, it can’t be stored for a long time as drying standards for tea leaves were violated.
If you are not sure about the quality of tea, look at the package. Reputable manufacturers don’t save on packaging. They label the tea boxes with their brand logo. Anyway, whatever the quality of tea, do not store it for more than a year as it long storage spoils the taste and flavor of the beverage.
Tea quality grades
There are a lot of criteria to judge the quality of tea:
- Grey or faded tea leaves mean that the tea is old;
- Tea leaves should be nicely arranged forming a curious pattern;
- In good tea, there should not be any dust or fannings or a very small amount of it is acceptable;
- When you press a rolled tea leave, it should get straight again. If tea leaves crumble, they were overdried. If tea leaves do not change their shape, it means that they were not dried enough.
In Asian countries, where people grow tea and know everything about tea, only loose tea is appreciated. The buyer can visually evaluate the tea and judge its quality. Pay attention to the following. Look for the following marks on the package:
- P (Pekoe) – coarse with broken leaves;
- OP (Orange Pekoe) – uniform mix of long wiry leaves;
- FOP (Flowery Orange Pekoe) – high-quality tea with a long leaf and few tips;
- TGFOP (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) – tea with the highest proportion of tips;
- FTGFOP (Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe) – highest quality grade, expensive tea;
- B (Broken) – crushed tea.
Labels Pf or PS mean Pekoe Fannings and Pekoe Souchong, respectively. Pay attention not only to the origin of the tea but also to the emblems. The true Indian tea has the emblem depicting a girl carrying a basket. Tea from Sri Lanka has a spotted lion upholding a ball on the package. And it must have 17 spots.
Benefits of good tea
Good quality is the main criteria to choose tea. Depending on its quality, tea will benefit or hurt you. If you don’t want just to color the cup of water with a packed something but really want to benefit from drinking tea then choose the tea of the best quality.
Good tea contains caffeine to give us energy, it improves brain functions. Tea will help you to calm down, to reduce stress after a busy day. Tea may also help to renew the lining of the blood vessels. Weak tea may lower blood pressure and strong tea, on the contrary, may increase it.
Vitamins P and C in tea have antimicrobial and antiviral effect, they help to eliminate the toxins. Drinking good tea prevents tooth decay, dysbacteriosis, improves intestinal flora, boost metabolism. Green tea slows down the aging process, makes the hair, skin and nails healthier.
Tea of high quality contains fluorine that participates in metabolic processes and boosts immunity.
A small amount of iodine in tea ensures normal functioning of the endocrine and nervous systems, the heart and vessels.
While the tea has a lot of benefits, excessive tea consumption may be possibly unsafe.
When expensive tea is dangerous
Expensive tea does not necessarily mean good tea. In this case, the country where the tea was produced and packaged is not important. To avoid buying bad tea, follow these tips:
- Buy loose tea only in specially designated areas;
- Buying packaged tea pay attention to the producer, marking, and package appearance;
- Expensive and attractive metal boxes may contain bad tea. The content of the box is what is important.
Bagged tea is bad by default, however, there are exceptions.
Bagged tea saves you time for brewing and it’s very convenient. Initially, it was nit intended to sell dust in bags. Bagged tea should contain crushed tea leaves of good quality. Use bagged tea only once to enjoy its taste and flavor.
If bagged tea contains crushed tea sprigs, overdried leaves, and dust, this beverage can be harmful to your health. Choose bagged tea depending on its taste and buy tea only by trusted manufacturers.
A separate group of teas is flavored teas. Tea leaves have their own unique flavor which can be enhanced by herbs or pieces of fruits. However, some manufactures replace them with artificial flavorings. You can easily identify it – in a bag of good flavored tea, you can see pieces of dried fruits and herbs.
We can spoil even the best tea by improper brewing. Strong tea, for example, is not always good especially for people with cardiovascular diseases.
Strong green and black tea have a large concentration of caffeine which is contraindicated to those with high blood pressure, glaucoma and gout. Drinking too much tea can cause insomnia, irregular heart rate, stomach cramps and even dehydration.