For a majority of tea lovers, it has always been sip at first sight. Once you a grab a taste of one of the oldest beverages known to the world, you are a lifelong fan of it. Tea isn’t just a drink but a ritual that makes for an important part of the day for many people. It is hence; extremely important that such a cherished delicacy is prepared with utmost care and excellence.

The person that identifies exquisite tea from other ordinary options is a seasoned connoisseur, and to be a seasoned connoisseur, one must be aware of the factors that dictate the making of good quality tea. How does one do that? Here are five parameters to ascertain utmost quality when it comes to teas:

Higher we go
The texture and taste of tea can improve just by the elevation at which it grows. Unbeknownst to many, the more elevated the surface where tea leaves bloom, the better is their natural flavour. Elevation also enables the tea leaves to receive much richer quality of essential carbohydrates. It even reduces their inherent bitterness while enhancing their aroma too. This is exactly the reason why hilly regions where tea is manufactured at high altitudes, are said to produce the finest teas in the world.

Home is where the tea is
The geographical location tea is manufactured at often determines a lot of its core attributes. A tea that is born in Darjeeling will taste completely different from a tea that is grown in Assam. While the Darjeeling tea will turn out to be a fruity delight, its Assamese cousin will be a much darker brew with malty essence. This is because soil quality, seasonal variance, average temperature and many more aspects play a role in the final product.

The cultivar factor
A cultivar aka the “cultivated variety” is a specific variety that has been selectively chosen for breeding. Often, the natural form is the tea is further developed to give birth to cultivars, which lend a distinct flavour to the tea. Cultivars, either by intention, choice or natural processes, are a gateway to a thriving variety of teas, which give the consumer much more options in terms of choice as well as taste.

Good pluck goes a long way
Plucking of tea leaves is an extremely intricate process; it can literally determine the quality of the beverage. With the advancement of technology, mechanical plucking has become a trend, but anecdotal evidence suggests the most delicious kind of tea is still a result of manual plucking. The expertise of the person plucking the tea also becomes a factor here. Skilled labour that is given the freedom and flexibility to do their best often deliver with the desired results.

It’s all about tea work
The method through which a tea is manufactured is also a subliminal contributor to the quality. State of the art machinery and mammoth manufacturing plants may be conducive for scale, but no advanced technology can match up to the simple seamlessness of vintage practices. Mechanisation is perfect for regular teas, but when it comes to the rarer and special varieties, a human and handcrafted touch is imperative in their manufacturing.

– By Ekta Jain, Octavius Tea.