How to determine the quality of tea
Tea buyer’s guide
Flavor is such a personal thing – bitter or sweet, mild or strong – the degree of “suitability” varies from person to person. When buying tea, especially when you don’t really know what to buy or which kind is your “perfect match”, the best way is to try it first. If you’re buying from a tea boutique which allows you to pay by custom amount or weight, pick up small quantities of various flavors to try. If you’re buying from a supermarket, try to find the smallest package you can get or simply buy a combo pack.
There is another option, when you don’t want to spend much in a tea boutique (even a small amount can cost a lot). If you already have an idea of what kind of tea you might be interested in trying, get the tea bags first. Yes, we know tea bags are usually blended flavors and their quality is not as high. This is an easy way for you to try whether the taste is even close to what you expect it to be. Then you can head to the tea specialists to try some higher end products.
Boutique tea shops are usually willing to give trial samples, especially if you are a regular customer, or when they are promoting certain products. Even if they don’t, you can still ask questions in order to get to know whether the tea type is what you’re looking for. After talking to the merchant and showcasing your interest in tea, ask if you can have some samples – you might be surprised what you can get.
Some of the best tea shop owners, who have been in the business for decades and who people always come to for advice, say “If you’re selling tea, the least thing you should do is to limit the customer’s chances to try. They have to try to know what they want to buy. So they keep coming back to try and buy it from you.”. Those are some wise words, right?
So, if the tea shop you go to is not very “trial friendly” before you purchase anything, walk a bit further and try another one!