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4 + 1 Ways to Distinguish Quality Herbs

Are you a fan of herbal teas taking pleasure from what nature generously offers you? Are you responsible for catering to the kitchen of a bar or restaurant? In any case, the recognition of quality herbs at first glance is an important asset! And it is important as when we consume an herb, we are looking not only for taste and aroma but also for its beneficial properties. Today, we will see together the ways in which one can easily distinguish herbs of high quality.


Look at it face to face

The first contact we have with an herb is its “visual” presence. It is a very important element that tells us a lot about its quality. What does it look like? Does it look like it was just cut from the field? Does it look fresh or do the leaves appear browned or faded instead of green? The dark brown to black color shows us that something went wrong while drying or storing the herb. On the other hand, the light-faded color tells us that it has been exposed to the sun for a long time. In both cases the quality of the product is undoubtedly degraded.

Mountain tea - Hearbal tea - Τσάι του βουνού

Smell it with your soul

Grab a leaf, rub it on your hands. The aroma should be pleasant bringing to your mind something cool, natural and fresh! An aroma that will take you to nature should come up. Aroma of “mold” and “closure” testify that the drying was done in completely unsuitable conditions or that it was not dried as it should be. In this case consumption is prohibited. On the other hand, if there is no smell, it is very likely the collection of the herb to have been done a long time ago, so the herb no longer has to offer us many of its medicinal properties!


Taste it

As in all our senses, so in taste the concept of ‘’nice’’ is subjective. However, each herb has a “characteristic” taste based on the ingredients it contains. Consider for example the “oregano” aroma of oregano and dittany of Crete and the “lemonade” of Lemon verbena. Like the aroma, the taste should in any case be clean and pleasant, maintaining the character of each herb. You do not need to be an expert in order to be able to understand this characteristic taste of each herb and to judge if what you taste is pleasant for you or not.


Pay attention to packaging and storage of herbs

Undoubtedly, the protection of the herb from the sun and moisture are key factors so that it can retain its aromas and properties until its final consumption. We choose loose herbal teas, so that we can see and judge the quality based on all the above. Chopped and powdered leaves do not help us in this evaluation. Herbs in packages that prevent direct contact with the sun help to better preserve the contents on the shelf of each store, while in any case immediately after purchase we must protect them by storing them in suitable places without humidity, high temperature and light.


Find out its origin of herbs

The quality of an herb in terms of freshness and content in essential oils can therefore be evaluated based on our senses (visual, smell, taste). However, what cannot be evaluated with this process is the possible presence of pesticides or heavy metals for example which have to do with factors such as: Producer’s cultivation methods, field’s location and how ‘’polluted’’ the surrounding environment is. In the case of caterers, such as chefs and F&B, it is possible to find the producer through receipts/invoices, although this is often very difficult. In the case of the consumer, however, he will have to look for the producer, in order to find out what is hidden right behind the offered product. Of course, this can now be done not only with our physical presence, but also with an internet search or other ways of communication that modern technology offers us.

All of the above are basic and very useful tips for helping to supply your business or home with the right raw materials. Through this process you will understand that the price is really relevant and it makes no sense to try to give flavors and aromas with products that are economical but of poor quality.

Choosing an herb of high quality can be an easy task as long as you know the ways to distinguish it! It is its color, its aroma and its taste that will make it stand out, it is the one that will look like as it has just been cut from the field, that will scent the room, that will travel you to nature, giving you well-being, relaxation or energy depending on its beneficial properties.



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