Ya-Ya's Tea Board

Ya-Ya's Tea Blog

Quest for the Super Tea

 [ IMAGE Drinking tea with Buddha ]

We often have people inquire about the best  tea. It always makes me smile, since the term ‘best’ usually refers to a different definition of best, depending on who’s inquiring, or rather what the motivation of the inquiry is. I tend to think of this issue as the Quest for the Super Tea.

Some definitions of best that I encounter quite frequently are summarized in the following questions:

Which is the best tea to help me lose weight?
Well, as many of our readers will know, these people are usually interested in oolong tea (follow the next link for an overview of scientific studies investigating the use of oolong tea as a diet aid). In this context, best is defined as the tea that is the most effective in reducing body weight. A very specific definition and probably very different from the definition of someone who simply enjoys drinking tea.

Which is the healthiest tea you’ve got?
Much has been written about the health benefits of green tea, mainly revolving about the ‘punch of antioxidants’ this type of tea ‘packs’. Here, people are again looking for something very specific. The motivation being a search for a medicine rather than an enjoyable beverage, people with this approach are probably best served by drinking white tea (read this article for a review of medical research investigating the health benefits of white tea). This doesn’t mean that white teas don’t taste great, but a lot of people looking into health benefits care about flavour only on second thoughts.

What’s the most expensive tea you’ve got?
Well, from a tea connoisseur’s point of view, that’s an understandable definition. But even for people who drink tea purely for the pleasure it offers them, this is the wrong question to ask! While price can be an indicator for the quality of tea (for a long explanation of why this is not necessarily so, read my posts here and here), it doesn’t tell you much. Too many factors influence the price of a tea: area of production (Indian teas from Darjeeling are usually much more expensive than those from Assam), rarity of the tea and type of farming/trading (organic farming / fair trade agreements to minimize the potential of exploitation of tea workers), just to name a few.
Another factor – a factor that I regard as the most important one – is personal taste. Even though many people might agree that a certain tea is outstanding, it doesn’t mean that you will like it. In fact, we have several customers who like relatively inexpensive teas better than other, much more expensive ones (and are often surprised to find this out). This is a question of personal preference and it might well be that a fairly simple, easy-to-brew and inexpensive tea is your personal best tea. Just because I personally rank our Arya Ruby – which is not a cheap tea – amongst the best teas produced doesn’t mean that everyone will like it.
I once had a customer who wanted to buy the most expensive tea we offered. Those of our readers who know me probably aren’t surprised of my reaction: I told him I wouldn’t sell him our most expensive tea. Instead, I suggested to try a few different teas to see what he liked, rather than using the tea as a status symbol based on its price. I’d much rather see him buying a tea (even a very cheap tea) that he liked than possibly disappointing an expectation of greatness based purely on something as subjective as price. He agreed to this and did indeed prefer a tea that had a different flavour than our most expensive tea.

The best tea also depends on the season or time of the day, on your mood or level of experience. It will often be a different tea even for people of the same level of expertise, simply because everyone has different taste preferences.

But more often than not, people seem to be on the Quest for the Super Tea.
What makes a tea the best for you or do you have a Super Tea? You can leave us a comment below.

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