Thick in the middle of tea bushes, Shunan takes a step toward another plant hoping to spot a tender bud. Suddenly the ground below her gives way and she begins to slide down the slope. She reaches out for the closest thing to grab on to and is saved by a near by tea branch. For such a frail looking plant, tea bushes are deeply rooted and very sturdy. Shunan pulls herself up laughing and returns to the search for wild tea.
Tea picking is a physically demanding. The plants that produce the best tea can be lower to the ground or need a little bushwhacking to get to. For a lot of tea plants newer varieties have been created that while easier to pick and produce a better yield, don’t always taste as good.
Learn more about wild teas and the difference between old and new variety check out our youtube channel.
You can try old variety and wild white tea at our tea house located at 123 E7th NYC.
Shunan sits on top of Lu Shan with a cup of tea looking over the fog which passes below her. The thick fog covers the earth below giving Shunan the feeling she could step off the mountain and walk to the peaks she sees in the distance.
The trek up Lu Shan was new for Shunan. An area she hasn’t been before, Lu Shan is one of the coldest tea regions she has visited due to the high elevation. Through the thick fog that rests on the path, you can hear the gentle crunch of ice slipping off the trees. This fog is what gives Lu Shan tea the title “fog tea”. In the past, scholars and rulers would make this trek to show their devotion to their job. A climb like this is not for the weak of heart.
Below the peak are the tea fields. The locals rate the tea by how foggy the growing area is; the foggier the better. Since the location is more north than most tea regions and at a higher elevation, the cold prolongs the tea from budding. The old variety is not picked till April 5th, which is the cut off date for picking other teas.
Lu Shan has both old variety and new variety teas. In this case though, the old variety gives a better yield then the new variety. While the government gives incentives to grow the new variety the locals secretly keep to the old variety.
To learn more about Lu Shan teas and to see the awesome view, watch our YouTube Channel and stay tuned for more trip updates.
Shunan has returned to the beautiful Huang Shan for Mao Feng.
Shunan loves Huang Shan for it’s natural beauty. Unforetunetly in recent years the tourism business has been supported by the local government more than the tea production. The tea production here is still strong and is producing lots of high quality tea.
Mao Feng has not been researched as much as other tea varieties, thus the cultivar has been left untouched. Unlike other teas like Long Jing or Bai Mu Dan that have new varieties, which while easier to grow does not taste as good, Mao Feng is still mostly its original variety.
If you remember from pervious videos Mao Feng is baked dry. This preserves the natural shape of the tea and gives it a softer taste than most green teas. The original way to bake the tea is in a basket over coal. There is a more recent method in which the leaves are placed in a tall oven, allowing for more tea to be baked at one time. For More information on the tea production and for the beautiful Huang Shan scenery watch Shunan’s newest video.
Shunan has a great relationship with the family and loves to visit them. A city girl by birth, Shunan loves the country life. From baby chickens to wooden room warmers. Check out our second video to see daily life in the Huang Shan area.
A Qing Dynasty emperor once tasted a green tea known at the time as Scary Fragrance. When the emperor tasted the tea though, he did not think the name matched the beautiful taste. He renamed it Bi Luo Chun, which means green snail spring.
Today Bi Luo Chun is one of China’s most popular teas. It considered best when sourced from Dong Ting Mountain. This is a mountain located on an island in a lake. The process of making Bi Luo Chun is very tedious because the picking is very specific. For Bi Luo Chun they use only super tiny buds. If you have a tea with a lot of large leaves is it not desired.
Bi Luo Chun is a stir fried green tea, like Long Jing, which gives it a strong taste. The leaves are rolled in the wok to not only give them their shape, but to also break the cell membrane to release flavor. The rolling process takes about 45 minutes when done my hand. The careful work that goes into making a good Bi Luo Chun is part of what makes it so expensive.
A trick to telling if a Bi Luo Chun is made well is if it sinks to the bottom of your cup as soon as you put it in water. (Remember for Bi Luo Chun you put the water in first). A quick sink is the sign of good a making technique. While this doesn’t tell you everything about the tea, usually an excellently made tea is from high quality leaves.
For more information check out our Youtube Channel where Shunan break down Bi Luo Chun right from Dong Ting!
Yunnan is most known for Pu Er, but did you know they also make red tea? (Known as black by the rest of the world for reasons we don’t understand.)
Yunnan red tea, known as Dian Hong, has a relatively short history, but it does offer an unique opportunity to taste red tea from the Assamic family. Some of them are even made with old trees similar to Pu Er.
You can learn more about Dian Hong and watch how it’s made by visiting our Youtube channel