Monday, December 31, 2007

Full Leaf Tea

The other day I was drinking some da hong pao I received as part of a Christmas present. I was warned that it would be unremarkable, and rightly so; it was rather bland and uninteresting. At some point between admiring the dry leaves and being disappointed with the brew, a silly and obvious, silly because it is so obvious, thought came to me: loose leaf tea does not inherently equal quality.

This isn't news; had you and I had a conversation about it, I would have agreed wholeheartedly, but it was not until this moment I realised that this misconception had still been lingering in the back of my mind.

I presume this ill-formed idea has its roots in my early tea-drinking days, as I made the progression from teabags to loose tea. When trying to move away from BOP, searching for better tea, full, loose leaves become a convenient, visual indication, and in that context, not entirely misleading. Now that I continue advancing to better and better tea, this sort of prejudice is a handicap.

The art and science of making quality, artisan tea is clearly more involved than simply not having had it reduced to dust.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, there's a whole world of BOP and variations that are overlooked just because their not " full leaf ". I would think that as long as its fresh it should be perfectly fine. Ive had TGFOP ( tippy golden flowery orange pekoe) that was better than its full leaf counterpart. If you try any of these teas just remember to keep the steeping time short. These acronyms apply to Indian Teas and their grading system for leaf particle size.

Anonymous said...

the leaves it the picture look awful im sorry!