Why Chinese tea? It is always said that China is the homeland of tea, which has a very long history of tea. For the expats in China, drinking tea may seem like a simple refreshment. However, unlike the western custom of using a convenient teabag, Chinese go to a lot of effort and time to prepare good tea for their guests, using tea-leaves, natural spring water and a special kettle etc to create worldwide famous tea culture. Tea is not just a drinkable beverage, is also a taste of Chinese traditional culture and inheritance of spirit. Moreover, tea has many positive effects on our heath, and drinking tea is always seen as a mean of meditation and self-reflection, bringing tranquility to the drinkers.

Unsurprisingly, there are various tea-leaves in China. In general, the main types of teas are: green tea, yellow tea, black tea, dark tea, white tea and Oolong tea. While you're selecting tea, you should pay attention to following four aspects:

1. Color

Generally, new tea-leaves look fresh and pleasing, with light green or dark green. Good green tea-leaves have jade green with fresh vitality. Twisted pan green tea shows glossy gray green. If some of the tea-leaves have dry, dark and brown color, it manifests that the tea inside is oxidized, meaning it is old tea. If the leaf involves obvious burnt spots, black deep reddish brown spots or burnt edges, it is often the proof of bad tea. If the leaves have mixed, large contrast colors, it is deemed that the tea is mingled with yellow leaves, old leaves and even old tea, which does not live up to the standard of good tea.

2. Fragrance

New tea always comes with fragrance, and a strong fragrance suggests the high quality of the tea. For instance, the smell of new green tea has been categorized into refreshing fragrance, rich fragrance and sweet fragrance. The better the tea it is, the stronger the fragrance. If there is no aroma of the tea or it is replaced by a merely astringent, burnt smell, then it is not a good new tea. In terms of old tea, when the fragrance is weak and light, it is definitely old tea.  

3. Flavor

New tea is extremely clear and transparent with strong aroma, while old tea is characterized by brown color and weak fragrance. Take green tea and black tea for example, new green tea tastes a little bitter first, and then the fresh sweet taste begins to surface gradually, leaving a long and memorable aftertaste in mouth. On the contrary, if bitter taste takes the lead and fresh sweet taste subsides, it is bad tea. For good black tea, the norm of identification is that pleasant sweet taste and reduced bitter.

4. Shape

Every tea-leaf has its own shape. Thus, different varieties have different means of identification. The quality of some varieties depends on how fluffy it is. The fluffier it is, the better the tea it is. Some varieties are identified by tightness of the leaves. Tight leaves equal good quality. In general, good tea means the shape of the leaves are uniform, minimum fragmentation and impurities. 

5. Place of origin

There is great gap of quality among various places of origin. It is always advised to select tea from its main producing areas. For example, it is well-known that Yunnan produces the best quality Pu’er tea and premium Oolong tea can be found within Fujian Province.

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