We move to our next lesson in understanding tea quality through the leaf in Part 2 of Colours and Shapes. Today, we are focusing particularly on the leaf’s shape, which depends greatly on the type of tea we are examining.
So, let’s say you’ve bought a royal ring tea. It’s a green tea that has been processed into its beautiful trademark ring-shaped coil, shown on the picture above. If this tea has not been made to optimum quality you will notice that these coils are not as tightly furled as they should be – at least in the dry leaf. This means they may not have been processed with the care and attention they deserve, and will not achieve the same wonderful flavours as a high-quality royal ring might.
Texture can also be important, and in any tea where the texture seems different to those of its type, this can indicate any number of things. Texture in particular can be difficult to discern, however it’s important to remember that no green or white tea should be brittle, although some black teas may take on this characteristic. Each different tea has its own set of traits that are considered “optimum” and “normal”, so it really does count to do some research and experience the tea from several different tea producers (if the tea is made by several independent farmers and/or companies).