The Tea Plant and Its Leaves

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The best tea is made from the plant’s small young shoots and unopened leaf buds, which are the most tender and vulnerable and contain the highest concentrations of chemical defenses and related enzymes. The choice “pluck” is the terminal bud and two adjacent leaves. Most tea is now harvested by machine, and therefore contains a large proportion of older and less flavorful leaves.