I have two oolong teas of the same type (dong fang mei ren). One has long leaves that barely fit in a teaspoon. The other has much smaller leaves that are easily scooped up, and it has a weaker taste. However they seem to expand more when it's steeped.

Are smaller leaves generally an indication of lower quality?

2 Answers 2


Smaller leaves typically but not always would mean younger leaves and is associated with higher quality. However this is not always the case and especially by this particular tea I don't know how true this is.

This tea is supposed to be made by growing tea in Taiwan without pesticides. Having a particular bug chew on the leaves causing the plant to produce certain chemicals that give this tea its flavor.

Additionally it's supposed to only use the top two leaves.

All these things together could make this potentially a pretty expensive tea. So some manufacturers take various shortcuts life chopping the leaves so it looks like a smaller tip leaf but actually being a older leaf. Also being grown in Taiwan which has somewhat unstable weather and being dependent on those bugs makes this a very seasonal product that may be great some years and bland the next.



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    Dec 7, 2017 at 12:10

Not necessarily. It could be because the leaves are from a different cultivar. However, it could also be that small leaves are from cultivated tea gardens while the larger leaves are from natural arbor trees. The latter has a much richer taste. At last, it could also be a difference due to processing. Oolong tea processing is probably the most complex compared to other types. There are more steps and balancing the fermentation level is challenging.

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