Friday, August 26, 2011

Looking at the hue and shape to tell good leaves

Can you tell good tea and bad tea just by their appearance?  The other day, I attended another tea workshop and practiced three different tea tastings for sencha.  


Konnichiwa, it’s me(^^)     Today, I will introduce one of them.  It is telling the quality by their appearance.  The five different dry-leaf samples are placed on black square trays.  You can have a look at them, grab for the weight, feel its texture and smell them.  So you use all senses except the taste and tell rate their quality.

Do you know any index to tell good leaves?  Which do you think is better, heavy or light?  How about the shape?  Do you have any idea if thin or thick leaves are good?  Please look at the photo below.  They are placed in order from 1 to 5, 1 is good and 5 is bad.

Probably, the photo may not be so clear, but now, can you tell some differences?   I’ll give you the answer and these answers are as follows:

Profound brilliant green
Reddish, blackish or whitish green
Less broken pieces and twigs
Coarse and uneven
Many broken pieces and twigs
shiny and Smooth
rough and chalky surface
Green and sweet aroma

Why are thin leaves good?  Young and soft leaves are better for Japanese tea.  They are easily and tightly curled than old stiff leaves.  So, good leaves are usually thinner.

I think the easiest indexes for you will be the “hue” and “shape”.  Bad leaves are reddish or blackish.  They are coarse and thick and include many broken pieces and twigs.  On the other hand, good leaves have profound color.  The pieces are thin and even.  Now look at the photo again.  Can you tell the differences?

When you have a chance to compare dry leaves, please look at their “hue” and “shape”.  They will be a guide to tell its quality.  Jah!


  1. Hi Kohei, I will be stopping by tokyo for 3 days only, and so, it's quite a rush. Do you have any recommended places/shops to buy japanese tea leaves?

    The last trip to Japan, i received gyokuro and sencha leaves from Mikuniya Zengoro as a present. It was good!

    I wanna buy gyokuro and sencha tea this time too. So, I would like to know if there are any good tea companies. :)

    Thank you!

  2. Hi, jun.-san,
    I have never bought tea in Tokyo, so I can’t give you any advice on it. I’m sorry (^^;;

    But, there is one tea café in Tokyo, where I want to visit someday. It is called Chachanoma. It is a café and also sells their tea. But I’m not sure if they have gyokuro. I have read a book written by the owner of Chachanoma. He knows Japanese tea well and he himself visits tea production regions around Japan to look for excellent teas. I think their tea must be good^^

    Cahchanoma webpage (Japanese)
    List of tea:
    Webpage says that they usually have around thirty different teas.

    If you don’t have time to visit Chachanoma, you can visit department stores. They usually have popular tea shops, such as Fukujuen or Ippodo. They are safe place to buy tea.

    Enjoy your trip!!

  3. Hi Kohei,

    Thank you for your advice and recommendation! Chachanoma looks really good and i will make an effort to visit it!^^

    If i visit Chachanoma, I'll write a review of my experience and tell you about it, if it's alright? ^^

    Thanks and have a good day!

  4. I hope you have a time to visit there. I’ll look forward to your review. It’s is no problem writing about me. Thanks!

  5. Hi Kohei!

    I've just got back from Japan 2 weeks ago, and I thought i'll share with you some places that served good green tea! :)

    In Osaka, I went to this steamed donuts cafe in Shinsaibashi. The matcha latte was fantastic! and they gave me kuromitsu to add into it too. They serve Hot Matcha in the traditional bowls but it was too hot in the day, so i decided to have the ice one. But, still very delicious!

    I wrote an entry into my blog, if you would like to visit.

    There's another cafe which i went to, in Hiroshima City. Called Cha-no-ma. I haven't got time to update my blog more often, so maybe i'll let you know once i'm done with it! :)

    Have a good day.


  6. Thanks for sharing! I've just visited your site and left a comment. The donuts shop looks really good^^