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Feb 28, 2011 02:28 PM

have you ever seen tea 'granules'?

So I picked up a big box of Assam tea at this middle eastern store. I thought I was buying a box of dried whole tea leaves as one would normally expect, but upon opening it, I found they were actually little granules, like instant coffee grounds. Like instant coffee, I thought they would dissolve, but when I poured hot water on it, they didn't dissolve, but sat on the bottom of the cup.

I've never seen tea sold this way as 'granules'. Is this common? Is this a middle eastern thing? What exactly are they, anyway, shredded leaves rolled up as balls, or worse, processed tea sludge made into pellets? Are they considered better or worse than the kind of inexpensive tea that's shredded up in tea bags? Would like someone to educate me on this form of tea.

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  1. Instant tea or granules is liken to instant coffee...and unfortunately about the same result! Neither will taste like the good stuff once reconstituted with hot water but offer the consumer another alternative. I'd stick with loose tea or tea bags.

    1. You bought what's called CTC (crush, tear, curl) tea. It's a mechanical picking process and is common for inexpensive Indian and Sri Lankan teas. Lots of information out there about it.

      I find that CTC tea is strong and dark but not fragrant or complex so it's often used for a drink like chai.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PorkButt

        Isn't CTC just a method? Isn't most bagged tea CTC tea? Yeah, there's lots of info out there, but I'm still not clear about the difference between orthodox tea and CTC despite this endless artcile

        According to this quick glossary

        An acronym standing for Crush, Tear, and Curl, a machine-based manufactory process to create tea leaves with a stronger infusion.

        A processing method using a technique which leads to larger leaf styles of hand-produced teas."

        So, isn't loose leaf tea orthodox tea and every thing else CTC?

        1. re: rworange

          rwo: I *think* CTC is a step up in quality from what's typically in tea bags, which is basically tea dust. It has a name but can't remember what.

          stratford: Even swanky tea places sell CTC, because it's strong and quick infusing. It definitely does not have to mean poor-quality. One of my favorite breakfast teas is a CTC Irish Breakfast blend from Upton Tea, and it's really bracing and quite flavorful.

      2. If you're looking for better-quality tea, I would avoid tea processed in this way. In Middle-Eastern stores it's easy to buy a package of the granular tea without realizing it isn't whole-leaf. We have a Sri Lankan grocery locally, and it was only by scrutinizing the package that I avoided the pellets and looked further for whole-leaf.

        1. yes, and try as I might I can not un-see them.