How To Spot a Quality Tea – Part 1: Gua Pian

TT Gua Pian

This week on Talking Tea we return to Tea Drunk in New York City to chat with Shunan Teng, founder and owner of Tea Drunk, about tips and tricks for identifying quality teas. As an example of what to look for in choosing tea, Shunan selects a Gua Pian, a historically famous green tea from China.  

Shunan uses our exploration of Gua Pian to break some myths about tea quality, and tells us what to look for in appearance, aroma and taste. We chat about how different methods of plucking, shaping and firing tea affect the taste, what to look for in the appearance of the dry and infused leaf, and what the dry leaves’ aroma can tell us about the quality of the tea. (The Gua Pian leaves Shunan shared with us in our chat are pictured above.) Shunan also chats with us about what makes Gua Pian unique among green teas, and the qualities which, in Shunan’s view, define a truly artisanal tea.

In our next episode, we continue our chat with Shunan by looking at a classic white tea from China to further explore the elements of a quality tea.

More info on Tea Drunk, including its online store, shop hours and events, can be found at its website, The website also has links to Shunan’s fantastic videos of her sourcing trips in China. The direct link to the videos is



Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @kensvoiceken.   

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The views and opinions expressed by guests on Talking Tea are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Talking Tea or its staff.

This podcast features music from “Japanese Flowers” ( by mpgiiiBEATS ( available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license ( Adapted from original.


Header image “Raw Puerh mid 1980 Menghai” by Cosmin Dordea, used under a Creative Commons CC By-SA 2.0 license. Adapted from original.


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