Learning to evaluate tea (or examine and taste it as the experts do), is not difficult.

However it will require the use of all your senses, except hearing!

The 7 step process:

  1. Visual appearance of the dry tea leaf. It must generally be uniform in colour and size.
  2. The touch and feel of the dry leaf.  Not too dried out or crumbly.
  3. Aroma of the leaf – fresh not stale and must reinforce the character of the tea.
  4. The colour and appearance of the infusion (the liquor), generally bright in colour.
  5. Aroma of the infused tea – fresh, pleasant and display the characteristics of the tea.
  6. Appearance, shape and the colour of the infused (or wet) leaf.
  7. Finally and most importantly the taste and flavour. Slurping and swilling is allowed.

Of course the type of tea being evaluated will determine many of the characteristics. A single estate Darjeeling tea will be very different to a strong blend of Ceylon tea.

You can use this process for testing the best quality leaf teas as well as for tea bags. Tear a couple of teabags up and evaluate the tea in them. Better still compare the various teabags on offer and see if they meet the claims they make.