From time to time we have customers write to us and say that they found “dust” in their tea. They ask us if the tea dust is ok, and what it means. For example, one of our customers owns a teahouse and was a bit perplexed when his customer asked him what the dust in his Golden Needle Black tea was all about; he was even afraid that it meant the tea was too old or of bad quality!
In truth, the “dust” found with tea is actually a very important detail to judge whether a tea is of high quality or not.
For example, compare opening a bag of our Golden Needle Black Tea and any other normal tea such as English tea or other black tea bags. You’ll find our Golden Needle Black Tea has lots of tea dust inside the packing, while the tea bags tea don’t have any.
Use a magnifying glass to check the dust more carefully. Pick a golden colored needle, which is the bud, and use the glass to investigate it deeply. You’ll find the tea dust has a golden color which is the same from the Golden Needle Black Tea buds. What does this mean?
It means that the “dust” here is not actually dust at all!, rather it is “hair” from the tea buds themselves
You see, the more tea hair and tea dust you have, the higher the quality of a tea you have, because only tea buds have so much hair. If you have low quality tea, which doesn’t have buds at all, you won’t find any tea dust. In fact, if you see “dust” in a bag of tea with no buds, than you may actually be looking at real dust! Please see the picture below which is my personal picture I took of the tea. This picture shows exactly that our teas are made from which kind of tea leaf. As you can see this picture which are standard tea buds we choose to make for our Golden Needle Black Tea. you can enlarge the picture, then you can see very clear there are lots of hair on the tea buds. Beside the bud there is one bigger leaf. You can see the leaf is very smooth and doesn’t have any hair at all. This is because once the buds grow larger it loses the hair.
This is a very important method to judge whether your tea quality is high or low. If teas are all made from big or old tealeaves without buds or few buds, it will be difficult to find any tea buds hair.
Other important methods to determine and ensure ensure the tea dust is from tea buds hair and is not actual dust
1. Judge the color.
If the tea dust color is gray it is likely real dust. This is not good. If the color of the dust matches the color of the tea, it is most likely the hairs from the tea. Put some tea dust on your finger and you’ll see the color more clear.
2. Use a magnifying glass to check it.
The tea hair’s size should be more uniform and much larger in size than dirt dust particles.
3. If your tea doesn’t have any buds at all, but on the bag you can still see grey or black dust, it is real dirt or dust.
In international tea standard evaluations, tea hair is an important element in grading the quality of the tea.
If you want to learn more about grading or judging tea, come to our International Tea Masters Certification course in October here in China.