This comparison shows the difference in how tea bushes are grown and plucked depending on desired end product.

Left: “two leaves and a bud” make up the majority of good quality loose leaf teas from all origins. The bud and leaves are of similar size. Younger, smaller leaves will keep a greater range of flavor and aroma when processed.

Right: Leaves below the bud are allowed to grow larger so as to yield a larger quantity for CTC (crush, tear, curl) and “dust” grades of tea for teabags. Larger, older leaves, loose the fine flavors and aromas yet provide that deep, dark, black of black tea that is so often desired.

Images from my visit to Highfield Tea Estate, in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India. May 2013.