There are so many types of Green Tea in China, here we use Dragon Well Green Tea as a example
The Dry Dragon Well Tea Leaves Before Brewing:
In Dragon Well green teas, the appearance of the dry leaf is smooth, flat and spear-like. Like Grade A below (shown on the far left), the color of the dry leaf is yellow-green with a straight flat body, and one leaf and bud which are well-proportioned. It has a light, delicate grassy fragrance and is smooth to the touch.
The Grade B (shown in middle) is called Premium Grade Dragon Well Green Tea, which also has a green color, but the color is a much deeper green with a much more intense fragrance and flavor. It has a very elegant flavor to it.
The leaf of Grade C (shown on the far right) is much darker and the leaves are tight and heavy. It smells very mild and light but does not keep well in storage for as long as the other grades.
Differences when brewing Dragon Well Tea
Flavor and Aroma
With Grade A Longjing tea, it presents a delicate and aromatic fragrance that is smooth and long lasting and similar to that of a freshly plucked green bean. It tastes very fresh, smooth and mellow with a hint of natural sweetness.
In the Grade B Longjing tea, the leaves will brew up to a bright green liquor with a mellow fresh taste that has no sharpness to it. It is smooth and delicious.
Grade C Longjing tea will not store for very long before going bitter. However, if brewed while still fresh it has a very mild flavor similar to the Grade B Dragon Well, but the leaves brew up a much more deeply green color than the other two grades.
The Brewed Tea Leaves and Buds
You can also tell the difference between different grades of Dragon Well green tea by simply observing the brewed tea leaves. You can see that the Grade A Dragon Well on the far left is still very brightly colored, even after brewing. The other two grades are more of a dark green color.
Additionally, the Grade A Dragon Well is always tender, slight and thin leaves with a very light appearance while the other grades look thicker and the leaves appear broader.
The Color of the Brewed Dragon Well
Observe carefully the color of the brewed tea liquor. A high-quality Dragon Well has a tender green, clear and bright color, with a touch of yellow. The darker the liquor is colored, the lower the quality of it.
The Flavor of the Brewed Dragon Well Tea
The best way to distinguish a nice, high quality Dragon Well is
by it’s flavor. It is just as aromatic, smooth and mellow to taste as
it’s aroma leads us to believe. A high quality Dragon Well will
always be soft and mellow flavored, never grassy or harsh. The
higher quality Dragon Well often have a slight floral note in
their undertones with very green and smooth overtones.
Finally, you can always observe the tea as it is brewing to notice
the color, flavor and depth of the more subtle notes in a fine Dragon
Well. A fine Dragon Well will be light and spear-like
with mellow and slightly floral notes, while the lower grades of
Dragon Well brew up darker with sharper notes to them.