I'm a tea enthusiast, Andy. Low-quality tea is often equated with "broken tea," and it's commonly believed that only whole leaves or two leaves and a bud make good tea. But is that really the case? Today, I want to discuss whether broken tea is genuinely bad or not.
- What is broken tea?
According to the CNS179 tea standard, broken tea refers to tea leaves that pass through a sieve with a size of 0.7mm to 1mm. Tea leaves with a dry size of less than 1mm are classified as broken tea.
- How is broken tea produced?
In Taiwan, broken tea typically results from poor moisture control during the manufacturing process (withering), leading to the tea leaves breaking during rolling and kneading, exposed to high temperatures and pressure, which causes them to break. Additionally, collisions during transportation can also contribute to the production of broken tea.
- Why does broken tea taste bad?
Let's use sugar as an example. Whole sugar crystals and granulated sugar, whole sugar dissolves more slowly than granulated sugar, making the sweetness more pleasant when drinking sugary water. This difference is also applicable to whole tea leaves versus broken tea. Broken tea is not inherently bad, but its fast dissolution rate can make the tea taste bitter.
Furthermore, broken tea typically consists of both "old leaves" and "young leaves." Old leaves are more prone to breaking due to their low moisture content, while young leaves are smaller and thus more likely to be classified as broken tea. When broken tea contains a high proportion of young leaves, it can lead to a bitter taste, giving the impression of lower quality tea.
- Should we drink broken tea?
Certainly, you can drink it, especially since broken tea is usually more affordable. However, two issues should be considered: "pesticides" and "brewing method."
Pesticides: Since broken tea often combines leaves from multiple batches, it's essential to ensure that no tea leaves exceeding pesticide limits are mixed in.
Brewing method: Because broken tea can brew very strong, if you're brewing with hot water, it's advisable to put the tea leaves in a filter, with no specific quantity limit. Brew until the tea's color appears, then wait for about 30 seconds to 1 minute before removing the filter. For cold brewing, there's no time limit.
That's all I have to share with you today. I hope you can find the tea that suits you best. There's no such thing as the best tea; there's only the tea that's best for you.
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