Leaf tea or infusion bag?
Tea is offered as leaf tea and small-leaved tea. Leaf teas that contain whole tea leaves play only a minor role with 1-2%. By far the biggest part are small-leaved tea - so-called broken tea. The infusion is more intense than with leaf teas.
The smallest leaf grades, fannings and dust, are used for infusion bags. They give a strong, aromatic infusion. Leaf grades only give information about the size of the tea leaves, but not about their quality. Basically, the quality of tea bags does not differ from the quality of loose teas.
For infusion bags finer grades of leaves, such as fannings and dust are used, as the finer sieves are much more concentrated, so that the tea can develop its full aroma in no time. For the "fast" cup of tea they are thus better suited. Currently about 80% of the tea is used in the form of infusion bags.
Tippy or Orange Pekoe?
In the leaf and broken teas, further sortings are distinguished. It depends on which parts of the tea plant are processed.
- Flowery Orange Pekoe - this assortment uses young, blooming shoots and shoot tips.
- Orange Pekoe - this second-smallest tea assortment consists of finest parts of young tea plants.
- Pekoe - The word refers to the still tender, young leaves of the tea plant and means "white fluff" (from the Chinese).
- Tip, Tippy - This addition refers to the bright tips of young, delicate tea leaves, which do not turn so dark when poured.
Darjeeling, Assam or Ceylon?
The quality of the various teas is mainly determined by the growing area, harvest time and climate. The most famous tea growing areas are Darjeeling, Assam and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) with the corresponding teas. As a rule, tea is picked in three harvest periods: first flush, second flush and autumnals.
Generally speaking, tea from higher altitude areas (eg Darjeeling) is usually of finer quality, as the leaves grow more slowly and can develop a fragrant taste. Teas from lower areas are usually stronger and darker in the infusion, but can also be very high quality, for example, best varieties come from Assam.
In Germany, most teas come as mixtures of different teas and harvests in the trade. Thus, a consistent quality with the usual taste is possible throughout the year.