Though the raw material used for producing tea is the same, leaves of tea plants, there are around 3,000 varieties of finished tea products available in the market. The quality of each tea product depends on a number of factors like the region where the tea plants grow, the climatic conditions, the age of tea plant and the method of processing.
If you carefully consider the following points, you will be able to choose the best tea from among all the tea varieties.
Tea plant doesn’t thrive in all soils and under all climatic conditions. The ideal climatic and soil conditions for the growth of tea plants are found in East and South Asia and some parts of Africa.
Most European and American countries import tea from these regions. The tea manufactured in different regions has its own distinct qualities. Though every tea producing country claims its tea to be the best, you must decide for yourself, which region’s tea is the best.
2) The manufacturing process.
Depending upon the way tea is processed, you can get mainly three types of tea. The best and the least processed one is the green tea.
Green tea contains the least amount of caffeine in it. Black tea is produced by fermenting tea leaves and it contains the highest amount of caffeine among all tea varieties. The third variety is the oolong tea which is partly fermented. Its caffeine content is somewhere between green tea and black tea. Your caffeine requirements will determine the type of tea you are going to buy.
3) The way tea is packed and sold.
Tea is available in loose form or in tea bags. Tea bags generally contain low quality tea but it is easy to use them. Loose tea, on the other hand, is better in quality but not as easy to use as the tea bags. If you are looking for convenience, you can buy tea bags and if you are keen on quality, buy loose tea.
4) Cost of the tea.
Different tea verities cost differently. Original green tea will cost a lot whereas low quality black tea costs less. There is also price difference depending upon the area where the tea is grown and manufactured. The good thing is that tea is available in different forms to suit everybody’s budget. The type of tea you are going to buy will depend on your shopping budget.
5) Check the quality.
The best way to check the quality of tea leaves is to chew a few grains in your mouth. Well processed tea will produce a sweet and fresh taste in your mouth when you chew it. Another way to check the quality of tea is to put some tea leaves in water.
If the tea is good, the grains will spread out evenly and sink to the bottom. Yet another way to check the quality of tea is to brew the tea.
Good quality tea will produce a beverage that is emerald green or golden in color. If the tea is of low quality, the brew will smell bad and its color will be dark.
6) Harvest season.
The quality of tea depends also on the season during which the tea leaves are picked. Leaves collected during spring make the best tea. Manually picked and processed tea is better in quality than tea prepared mechanically.