“This “Jade Snail” 玉螺 green tea is a tippy one leaf to one bud pick but because it’s such and early spring tea the leaf is typically quite small. The result is a balanced green tea with both robust and sweet attributes.”
Thick body, light flavor.
The early flavors and scents are on the greener side, reminiscent of asparagus, but it’s a savory tea whose lingering grain-ish sweetness expresses itself the finish, rather than the early flavors.
There’s a little mid-tongue bitterness, that I can sense more than actually taste.
Just enough to keep it interesting.
Somehow, there is a lingering after-taste evoking dried fruit.
For a tea that seems simple and lightly flavored at first taste, it is surprisingly complex as the steeps progress.
Not bad resteepability for a green tea and thought provoking length.
“”Bao Hong” tea is from Yi Liang county of Yunnan. It’s leaf is quite small and it carries a high level of aroma. The leaves are always picked when very small and fresh during a two hour window of time in the early morning of mid-February. The aroma is intense and fresh.”
In the method of picking and processing, this is quite similar to Long Jing Dragon Well tea. If you looked at a basket of the dry leaves, I wouldn’t be surprised if you mistook it for a high quality Long Jing Dragon Well tea. That is, until you brewed a cup.
While it looks a bit like Dragon Well tea from Long Jing, the flavor of the tea is very distinct from it.
Green teas tend to fall along light and dark flavor families, lighter green flavors like asparagus and tarragon vs darker, meatier flavors like collard greens and seaweed.
While still super fresh, it is a 2019 first flush tea after all, this is on the darker side of the green tea spectrum, at least for bud heavy, spring teas.
There’s something in the flavors that is super familiar to me, but that I can’t quite place. It’s not an off or bitter flavor, it’s just a bit unusual in a tea for me.
My coworker described the aftertaste as a bit like the soft drink “Sprite”. I haven’t had Sprite for years, but I feel like I remember it was heavier on the lime than the lemon. And I kind of get that, there’s a bit of the sort of dark lime-like flavor which lingers on the palate, lightened by a sparkle of darker spearmint.
If you’re tired of the usual green tea suspects, the Bao Hong Green Tea is an interesting one to try to wrap your mind around.
Huangshan Maofeng is another green tea almost always included in lists of “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶)”.
My notes are, “light grassy vegetal flavor evocative of green beans or asparagus with a camphor/pine aftertaste.”
This is a super elegant and light green tea, more vegetal than fruity, almost no bitterness or grip to speak of.
The English translation of the name is “Yellow Mountain Fur Peak”, due to the “small white hairs which cover the leaves and the shape of the processed leaves which is said to resemble the peak of a mountain”.
The recommended way to brew tippy green teas like this is to add a small amount (say 1g per 100ml water) to a tall, preferable tempered, water glass and cover with hot (185F/85C) water. Then wait and watch the dance as the liquid cools and the tea leaves drop to the bottom of the glass. Then, as your glass gets down half way, add more water until the liquid tastes more like water than tea. The only downside to this method is it is not as fast as brewing with a gaiwan, it enforces a leisurely contemplative pace to your tea drinking. Or maybe it is an upside? You also tend to end up eating a few tea leaves, which isn’t really a bad thing.
First off, the name of this tea is a little misleading, it is called “Anji Bai Cha” which means “White Tea of Anji”, but the production method is that of a Green Tea. It is called “White Tea”, because the tea buds and leaf sprouts are very light in color, pale yellow to white.
Second, because of the light color of the leaves, it is sometimes called “Golden Buds” which might lead you to think it is a “Yellow Tea”, but again, this is just referring to the color of the buds, not the production method.
Finally, the color of the tea soup, because of the light green of the leaves, is bright topaz yellow. Again, not because it is a Yellow Tea, but because of the light color of the chlorophyll in the leaves and buds. It is a green tea.
If you research Anji Bai Cha, another thing you will find quickly are health claims related to the teas’ relatively high amounts of Amino Acids.
“Bai Cha’s pale jade leaves are unique in their high amino acid content, which contributes to the sweetness and calming effect of their infusion. Some studies have estimated that the Bai Cha leaves contain approximately three to five times the amount of amino acid found in any other green tea.”
Another interesting point is that the two bushes which were found with the light buds characteristic of Anji Bai Cha, and from which all cuttings of Anji Bai Cha were taken, were only discovered in 1982! Anji Bai Cha, from Anji, is still a relatively lightly produced and thus somewhat prized and thus expensive tea.
The first time I tried the Yunnan Sourcing Anji Bai Cha, it freaked me out a bit. I may have been a bit on the high side of that temp. Brewed in a Gaiwan, I found the flavor of the Yunnan Sourcing Anji Bai Cha almost too intense. There is a creamy umami core to Anji Bai Cha that I somehow concentrated with my preparation, the flavor reminded me a bit of hard boiled egg, or Chinese 100 year old eggs. Brewed as I did, there was a bit of bitterness in the aftertaste.
The Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea anjibaicha golden buds was a much less intense flavor. While the umami/eggy core is still there, it was less intense and the flavor more balanced. There is a lasting sweet impression and length of flavor that is more apparent with this Anji Bai Cha than the other two. You usually don’t think so much about length of flavor with Green Teas, but this anjibaicha has a haunting and very pleasant after taste.
2g in 12oz insulated Glass Cup, water just starting to come to simmer, should be around 185F.
The “Ming Qian” in the name of this importer’s Anji Bai Cha, means that the tea was picked before the “Qing Ming” festival in early April. Basically, this just means it is from the first flush of tea buds, not the secondary buds later in the spring. For what it is worth, all three of these teas are first flush.
The most common way to drink bud heavy green teas like Anji Bai Cha or Dragon Well is to steep them in a clear glass, using about 1g of tea per 100ml of water.
This is a relaxing way to drink tea, you have to wait for the leaves to drop to the bottom of the glass, or at least start to drop. While you’re waiting for them to drop, you can watch the ballet of the leaves as they float down through the water. Once you start drinking, you just add a bit more hot water as you drink down your glass. You can keep adding hot water until your tea tastes more like hot water than tea.
I made the Seven Cups tea first this way, but also went back and tried all three teas this way.
All three Anji Bai Chas were good.
The Yunnan Sourcing Anji Bai Cha is the most intense in its flavor and was a bit tricky to brew in a gaiwan. It’s flavor was good when prepared in a glass.
The Seven Cups Anji Bai Cha was in the middle of the three, not as intense as the Yunnan Sourcing, but not as elegant as the Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea.
The Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea was the most elegant and had the best length of flavor. I found myself thinking about the flavor most of the day after drinking it, craving it a bit. But, it is also the most expensive of the three. (They also sell lower priced types that more or less map out to exactly the same prices as Yunnan Sourcing or Seven Cups.)
If you are interested in Anji Bai Cha, I might recommend trying a less expensive version, but be aware that it may be a bit trickier to get a good cup of tea out of it than with the smoother, higher grade.
“This is a classic “Robust” style Yunnan Bi Luo Chun (rolled) Green Tea, with a mix of 2 leaf to 1 bud plucking style.”
Which is to say, you won’t mistake Yunnan Bi Luo Chun for the classic ethereal Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu known for its tiny buds. These leaves abd buds are hearty Yunnan-style, some of them are downright huge.
This is a hearty green tea with a thick soup and pleasant outgoing vegetal character. It is relatively forgiving of careless brewing, but rewards care, exposing layers of green flavor in the main tastes and mint in the aftertaste. Gongfu style brewing, this tea will stand up to several steeps and just keep on going.
It is a great, organic, reasonably priced, perfect tea for an every day green tea drinker.
So, right from the start, this has a very distinct look! The individual spears of tea are 3-4 inches long and nearly completely flat. Another very unique, and labor intensive process, is used for this tea!
” Our Tai Ping Hou Kui is grown in Hou Gang village near Huangshan Mountain in Anhui. It was harvested in mid-April (first flush) from a decades old tea garden at about 300 meters. The tea is hand-fried in a wok for several minutes (kill-green) and the roasted in a four drawer system at progressively lower temperatures. This roasting is achieved in about an hour, after which the tea leaves are laid out by hand on a smooth piece of paper or fabric and then pressed between the paper and using wooden blocks. Finally the tea is low temperature roasted one more time to further reduce moisture content so that it can be stored sealed to maintain freshness. “
The dry tea has a distinct sweet, grass like smell. Brewed, it shows strong tarragon/mint character, with lingering sweetness and a bit of citrus and fruit in some of the later steeps.
Brewing in a gaiwan is a little odd, you kind of have to add water and then press the tea down as it softens, a bit like making spaghetti with not quite enough water. An easier way, and possibly more attractive, would just be to put some tea in a tall clear glass, then add warm water, as you would brew dragonwell.
A bit similar to Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed” Green Tea, also from Anhui, at least in the tarragon/mint character. Though, I think it is an even lighter tea, with a bit less vegetal character and perhaps more sweetness and aroma. Though, if you think about the sweetness, it is more like the sweet smell of a freshly mown field of hay, rather than sugar cane type sweetness.
Fast, strong, chest based buzz.
For the record, this tea is sometimes included as “one of the “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶)”.
Overall, another fantastic green tea which opens my eyes to the variety of shapes, smells in the tea world.
“Liu An Gua Pian (六安瓜片 also known as Lu’an Gua Pian or Melon Seed) is one of the “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶), and is grown in Da Bie Mountain Liu An area of Anhui province. (大别山六安市安徽省). Liu An Gua Pian first became popular during the Qing Dynasty.”
Liu An Gua Pian is an unusual tea in a number of ways.
The first way that it is unusual is that it is picked later than most first flush teas, so more mature leaves are used. The second way that it is unusual is that no bud or stem is included in the tea, only a single leaf is rolled.
This makes it incredibly labor intensive to produce, (Well, actually, all tea picked and processed by hand is incredibly labor intensive!)
First the stems and buds are removed from the picked tea leaves. Then leaves are allowed to wither briefly. Then they are quickly processed in an open wok-like oven to “kill green”. Then they are passed through the wok-like oven again and each individual leaf is formed into a cylinder with a brush-like device. Finally, the formed tea is repeatedly heated briefly over open flame neutral flavored charcoal to dry it.
Since it is larger leaves, the flavor is incredibly clean and light.
It’s funny, a lot of times green tea is compared to the sweet flavor of fresh asparagus, and most of the time I don’t really agree. However, on Saturday I made the first asparagus of the year with meyer lemon, olive oil, and tarragon. With Liu An Gua Pian, I totally get the asparagus thing, and even a little bit of tarragon and mint in the finish.
Definitely the perfect tea for a beautiful spring day.
I sort of thought yesterday’s “Jade Dragon” would be the highlight of the Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler, but this tea is even more interesting.
First, due to the name of the village it is grown in. “This lovely tea is grown in Mengku County of Lincang in a village called “Dofu Zhai” (aka Tofu Village).” Tofu Village!
Second, it is a special varietal local to “Tofu Village” that is a hybrid of pure Camellia sinensis var. assamica and another varietal called “Change Ye Bai Hao”.
The name, “Song Zhen,” (or “Pine Needles,”) of course, comes from the appearance of the processed tea. After the “kill green” step, they are rolled super tightly along the rib to have the appearance, for all anyone knows, of being a pile of pine needles.
But, mostly, the tea is amazing due to its flavor. It comes out of the gate with a buttery caramel-esque flavor. Seriously. Which gives way to a mild stonefruit core. Finishes with sweetness, a touch of astringency, a very pleasant buzz, and a camphor/menthol sensation that seems to evaporate from your tongue.
The term “Pekoe” in the name of this tea is a bit confusing for me. Usually, “Pekoe” refers, when combined with the word “Orange”, to a non-tippy type of broken black tea, from an obscure British/Dutch tea classification system.
The Yunnan Sourcing website says this tea is, “A robust white pekoe varietal green tea from Feng Qing area of Lincang.”
That implies that there is a Chinese tea varietal called “pekoe”?
Color me confused.
However, as soon as I taste this tea, I am far less confused. While it isn’t quite the green powerhouse that the Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai was, nor is it the mild mannered tea of either the Green Snail or the Cui Ming.
It charts a nice path right down the upper middle of the green teas I’ve tried, with very good vegetal pea/bean flavor, nice re-steepability, and a lengthy sweet after-taste. And a pleasantly zippy caffeine buzz. I could defintely drink the heck out of this one, whatever its pedigree.