Tai Ping Hou Kui

Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from Anhui, Spring, 2018 via @yunnan_sourcing.

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. “

Yunnan Sourcing

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.

#Tea #Cha #GreenTea #YunnanSourcing #TaiPingHouKui #AnhuiTea

Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed”

Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed” Green Tea from Anhui via @yunnansourcing.

“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.”

Yunnan Sourcing

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.

#Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #YunnanSourcing #GreenTea #LiuAnGuaPian #LuanGuaPian

Yunnan “Pine Needles” Green Tea from Mengku, Spring 2018

Yunnan “Pine Needles” Green Tea from Mengku, Spring 2018 from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

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.

What a wild ride!

#Tea #Cha #GreenTea #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing

Feng Qing “Jade Dragon” White Pekoe Green Tea, Spring 2018

Feng Quing “Jade Dragon” White Pekoe Green Tea, Spring 2018, from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

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.

#GreenTea #YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun, Spring 2018

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun.

Yunnan Green Spring Snail Bi Luo Chun, Spring 2018, from Yunnan Sourcing’s “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

There are a group of teas, or type of teas, which are classically called, “China’s 10 Famous Teas” (or sometimes 8 famous teas).

This classification goes back to before the communist revolution, at least late 1800s or early 1900s, maybe earlier.

The list slightly varies a bit from source to source, but it is usually about half green tea.

At the time, among those green teas, Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail Spring from Suzhou, Jiangsu, was often considered the best of the best.

Suzhou is in the Central Eastern province, Jiangsu, near Shanghai.

This isn’t Lake Tai/Dongting Green Snail.

It is from Yunnan, which is a province in Southern China, bordering Myanmar, Laos, and Vientam.

The tea grown in the Jiangsu area tend to be on small leafed bushes. The tea grown in Yunnan area tend to be on big leafed, well, actual trees. Distinct varieties of tea are grown in each area, due to the differences in climate.

I haven’t had actual Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu, so I can’t tell you how much this one resembles the other, but given the differences in regions, I don’t actually expect that this Yunnan Green Snail Bi Luo Chun tastes much like the real thing, from Jiangsu.

However, another distinguishing factor in “Green Snail” tea is how it is formed. As I mentioned, after the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually formed into shapes which allow it to be stored without damaging the leaves.

In the case of “Green Snail” the tea is formed into a sort of double coil. First the leaf is rolled vertically, then it is rolled horizontally. The shape is said to resemble a snail which has been cooked and pulled out of its shell. Well, which you can see from the picture, it does. Yum.

While this tea may not be real “Bi Luo Chun” from Jiangsu, it is a very solid green tea.

I find with these assortments from Yunnan Sourcing, there is usually a couple exceptional teas, one unusual tea, and one that is just a solid, well priced example of the classification. A daily drinker, if you will.

This tea seems to be the daily drinker in this bunch. It is a super solid example of Yunnan green tea. Good clean flavor, forgiving of careless brewing, stands up to multiple brews, but doesn’t require it. I took it to my Mom’s house over the holiday and drank it every day.

#YunnanSourcing #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #GreenTea

Cui Ming Premium

Cui Ming Premium.

Cui Ming Premium Yunnan Green Tea * Spring 2018 from the Yunnan sourcing Yunnan “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

This is an unusual green tea.

First it’s a bit odd that it isn’t formed. Second, it is ridiculously light, almost a White Tea, or the ghost of a green tea.

Oh, but we haven’t talked about that yet.

White tea production is the simplest, the tea is picked, withered slightly, and dried. That’s pretty much it.

Green tea is slightly more complicated.

First, in general, white tea contains a slightly larger leaf to bud ratio than most White teas.

Second, after withering, the green tea undergoes something which is usually called “Kill Green”.

“Kill Green” refers to quickly heating the tea to stop the enzymatic action from changing the green color. Usually this is done, at a more rustic level, in something that looks a bit like a large wok, or at a more industrial level, in something that looks like a cross between a clothes dryer and a cement mixer. Alternatively, sometimes the tea is steamed, though this is more common in Japan.

After the “Kill Green” step, green tea is usually, (and I say usually, because obviously this tea has not,) formed into a some sort of shape that will prevent it from breaking in transport. A spear shape, or a roll, or a pearl shape, etc. There are different styles in different regions.

The tea is then dried at a low temperature.

This tea looks basically like White Peony (Bai Mudan) which has undergone a kill green step.

According to the Yunnan Sourcing this tea is grown from a specific varietal and picked very early in the spring.

It is super light in flavor, in almost every way the complete opposite of the robust late harvest Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai I drank yesterday. There is an earthy vegetal nutty character and a lingering sweetness. A bit of astringency in the middle steeps reminds you it is green tea, and not a white tea. But it has quite a nice, and subtle aftertaste.

#YunnanSourcing #GreenTea #CuiMingPremium #Cha #Tea #DrinkTea

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai Yunnan Green tea

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai

Teng Chong Hui Long Zhai Yunnan Green tea * Spring 2018 from the
Yunnan Sourcing “First Flush” Spring 2018 Green Tea Sampler.

I’m starting a new project in the new year. After spending the last few months drinking White Tea, I’m going to immerse myself in Green Tea for the next bit of time.

I started by ordering a Green Tea sampler from Yunnan Sourcing which includes Five 50g portions of various teas from Yunnan.

If you aren’t familiar with metric portioning, ordering teas in metric amounts can be a bit daunting, (but, frankly, ounces are way worse).

To make things easier, think about it like this. A typical teaspoon of tea is about 2g, which is a single British/American portion of single steep, broken tea.

But, you say, “Erik, you just ordered 250g of green tea, that’s 125 servings of tea. How on earth are you going to drink that?”

Well, let’s just say, I use more than 2g of tea per serving.

A typical amount used for a single serving of multi-steeped, whole leaf, Chinese tea is more like 5g (or 7g, if you’re really working it), which is really just 50 servings. A month and a half, if you only drink one batch of tea a day.

Anyway, this is a very nice tea, though not a green tea for wall flowers.

It has a nice early vegetal aroma, chewy but not overwhelming bitterness, and a very long lasting sweet aftertaste. Appetite building! A bit like a slightly less assertive Raw (Sheng) Pu-Erh. Oh, and a pretty zippy caffeine content! Scott from Yunnan Sourcing says it is a good morning tea, and I agree.