There are all sorts of tea varieties available, but the fact is that their quality can vary just as much as their flavour. Knowing how to spot quality might be simpler than you think - here are five steps that will help you select the finest teas.
1. Look at the shape of the leaves
Assessing the shape of the tea leaves is a great first step towards ensuring their quality. Each leaf should have its own shape - green tea is usually curved, while oolong tea tends to have a more rolled up appearance. Don't be afraid to question the company you are purchasing from - they should be the experts, after all!
2. Keep an eye out for broken leaves
If the majority of the loose leaf tea is broken into small pieces, the chances are it has been processed by a machine and therefore of lower quality. Quality tea should be picked by hand, as the picker is able to look at the leaves and determine whether or not they are good enough to make it through to the processing stage.
3. Consider the colour
If the colour of the leaves is slightly washed out, this may suggest it is of inferior quality. Make sure you take the time to inspect the leaves - green tea should (perhaps unsurprisingly) be green in colour, while black teas should have a dark hue.
4. Check the ingredients
Looking at the ingredients of loose leaf tea will help you decide whether or not it is of high quality. Make sure any flavourings and colours are natural - synthetic additives can quite literally leave a bad taste in your mouth!
5. Ask to taste
Ultimately, the best way to recognise a good tea is by its flavour, so make sure you try before you buy!