I know where I can find lots of tea, but I don’t know how to tell if it’s quality or not, and how to find a trustworthy place to get it. I’m interested in getting several bags of loose-leaf oolong, green, and jasmine green to take home for gifts. What should I look for in a place to buy it? What vocabulary would be useful? Most importantly, are there any other kinds of tea that I should consider?
Are you in Taipei? If so, you could try Mei of Mei’s Tea House - she knows her stuff when it comes to tea and will be happy to chat with you about it if you order a drink.
Mei’s Tea House
16, Lane 37, Yongkang Street
Or try Ten Ren’s tea shop, it’s a chain with many outlets all over town and you can try them.
Ten Ren’s products are also sold at some supermarkets.
You might want to try going to a tea farm. They should be able to sell you good tea for a fair price. I know of one outside of Lo-Tong, but I’m sure tea farms are a dime a dozen.
Most tea stores that I have been to are more than happy to let you try their various teas. I just go and try the various tea they have and see if I like it. I’m sure if you go to a tea store they will let you try any of the tea in the shop.
Good advice, the most important thing is that you like the tea after all.
Normally when tasting tea, what your bugget is will determine the choice of teas. I like Oolong so will comment on that.
Whether it is machine cut or hand picked usually seperates the price at around 600NT$ for half a chinese kilo. Hand picked when you look at the tea will be in larger pieces than the machine cut and after bioling you should see two leaves which have been picked from the top of the plant.
At this time of year winter tea is the latest crop, its a bit early for spring tea. If the tea is high mountain the price usually goes up. Ali Shan tea is famous.
I have bought cheep 200 - 300 NT$ tea which is machine cut and thought it tasted good, and have bought up to 900Nt$ a half kilo, and received presents of tea which were much more expensive.
Regarding the taste, in many ways this is for the individual and how they brew, but good tea wont have the bitter taste so often found on the cheaper teas. Also how long it has been baked is relevant to the taste as bad tea can have some of its flavour disguised by a longer baking process although this techneque is also used sometimes to create a distinctive flavour. There should be a good after taste and feeling in the mouth, a tasteless watery tea is not something I ike, but not to be confused with the very high quality high mountain teas, which have a very delicate taste.
Anyway, have fun and enjoy. Drinking tea for me is an enjoyable and something I do most days.
also (after reading micks’ post), i learned that a common practice is to dump out the first pour or steep from your tea to remove some of the bitterness. at the old jade/flower market, a tea vendor giving out samples would first pour the hot water over the tea and then dump it. only the second and third pours or steeps would be consumed.
i have not noticed much difference when i tried this back at home, but my taste and experience are limited. my friend visiting from taiwan said it did not matter to her. maybe it’s very subtle.
i found tea i enjoy at the taipei fish market. i also like the shan woolung cha. so i got that to bring home. it has been very good.
as an aside, i was also told at the jade/flower market that the traditional way to drink the tea is with nothing added. this was something i found interesting, but it made sense. i always drank my tea with lemon/honey. but to drink it straight does have an appeal. the taste always brings me back to taiwan which is good and nostalgic for me. but i must admit, once in a while i add lemon and honey.
my friends always buy me tea as a parting gift when i leave, and i don’t know it’s origin, but i love it all.
Might I suggest a sticky in the ‘Food’ forum dealing with tea?
I have been slowly trying to educate both my palate and my head about tea for the last 2 years. I really am a beginner in this area. Thanks for the above comments.
I have been ‘gifted’ by some friends/clients with what some have told me are really high quality tea. They taste good, but I really need more experience in tea for me to accurately compare them. One of the bags is of High Mountain from Ali Shan. Quite heady and aromatic.
And then there is the whole ‘tea drinking/serving routine’ that is used. I’m told that this will also have an effect on the tea taste - rinsing the cups, warming the cups, how many times you use the tea…etc.
I’d appreciate any tips/knowledge that others may have about tea and its culture here on the island.
On the way up to the Mucha tea houses, after ChengChi University, and before the 7-11, where the road splits up on the left to go up to Cheng Da 1st throuhg 3rd roads, on the left hand side between the fruit stand and the dry cleaners there is a very high quality tea shop. He is a wholesaler but sells bags on the side. Most years his teas win prizes from the national tea society or whatever so you can pick regular, 2st prize second prize…etc… Make sure that you get some white gua-tze (pumpkin seeds). Roasted with some tea and with the correct amount of salt.
This year the Iron Bhuddha got the 1st prize but the wen shan pao chong did not.
[quote=“JOHN MOSS”]also (after reading micks’ post), i learned that a common practice is to dump out the first pour or steep from your tea to remove some of the bitterness. at the old jade/flower market, a tea vendor giving out samples would first pour the hot water over the tea and then dump it. only the second and third pours or steeps would be consumed.[/quote]Not sure whether it’s to remove bitterness. In my experience, bitterness can occur during subsequent or too-long steepings.
I was told that part of the reason for “washing” the tea in this way is to wash off any surface chemicals such as pesticides.
Anyway, I don’t like the tea to lose too much flavour from this first pour, so as soon as I’ve poured the water on the tea, I pour it straight off again.
Richiechen has a teas business. He buys direct from the farms and re-sells. He would probably even bring samples for you to try. PM him.