The northernmost producing area in China had used to be Rongcheng Shandong (37° north latitude), since the “Introduction of South Tea to the North 南茶北引” movement had been succeeded in the 1960s. In recent years, the trial planting has been successful experimentally in Chifeng Neimenggu 41° N, it has changes the Chinese tea history again. On the other side of the earth, the inland city, Odenthal is located at 51° N in Germany, Tschanara tea garden has planted tea trees outdoor since 1999 there, is it a miracle or Camellia sinensis has more potentials to be developed?
“Introduction of South Tea to the North 南茶北引” Shandong Rizhao
“Introduction of South Tea to the North” had succeeded to cultivate cold resistant varieties in north China, tea trees start to grow at minimum 10℃, critical temperatures differ from varieties, varieties with big leaves can be damaged by freeze injury under -6℃, median and small leaf size at -12℃ to -15℃. In Odenthal, the climate is relatively good for growing cold resistant varieties, the lowest average temperature could reach 10℃ in May, January is the coldest month of the year at 1.5 °C on average, Tschanara is located at an elevation of 213 meter above sea level in forest, so the temperature in winter is much lower, the lowest had reduced to even -13°C in 2018 and -10°C in 2019.
At the beginning of July, we harvested tea leaves with 1 bud and 2 leaves to make green tea at Tschanara, because of the relative low temperature and insufficient spring sunlight of the high latitude, tea leaves did not reach an active accumulated temperature to grow big enough to harvest until May 7th, the harvest is one month later than the most tea producing areas in China, therefore, we could consider the tea we made as an early summer tea.
Normally tea leaves harvested in this season are optimal to be processed into black tea and dark tea in China, high temperatures in summer help tea plants to produce and accumulate tea polyphenols which could make summer green tea more bitter in flavour than spring green tea.
Since we wanted to make pan roasted 炒青 Chao Qing green tea and only a small amount, fresh leaves were roasted in a Korean iron pan instead of a bigger wok at 250℃, this step was mainly for de-enzyming 杀青 Sha Qing and developing nice green tea fragrances from a grass smell.
The water content at this moment could be around 60%, leaves lost water and turned soft, which made it more easy to roll leaves into shapes,
leaves were rolled by hand on a mat. Hot-rolling 热揉 Re Rou is called in Chinese, summer tea leaves are difficult to roll into strip shapes because of high cellulose contents, it is easier to roll when the leaves are still warm. Strengths need to be just right to squeeze liquid out as much as possible, but at the same time not to break the leaves too much, this step could break 45-55% leaf cells.
After rolling, tea leaves were formed into a ball shape, the ball was broken carefully up, then the leaves were cooled down immediately in case of furthering an oxidation reaction and dried at a basket.
At this time, tea leaves looked darker in color and softer in texture than before, when the leaf temperature dropped, leaves were ready for the second pan-roast,
the rolling and drying procedures were also repeated once again, the last step was to dry the leaves completely till the dry leaves could be rubbed into pieces with fingers, the water content needs to drop to 5-6% for a good preserve condition.
From dry producing techniques, green teas are divided into four sorts, pan roasted 炒青 Chao Qing, baked 烘青 Hong Qing, sun dried 晒青 Shai Qing and steamed 蒸青 Zheng Qing, so we could call this tea Pan Roasted Green Tea 炒青绿茶 Chao Qing Lü Cha.
Depending on the dry tea appearances, Pan Roasted Green Tea 炒青绿茶 could have three kinds, long pan roasted 长炒青, round pan roasted 圆炒青 and flat pan roasted 扁炒青, long pan roasted tea looks like eyebrow and also is called brow tea 眉茶, this tea should belong to brow tea.
Tight dry tea in appearance and smooth green in color with a little frostlike powder, after brewing, this tea gives bright and yellow-green liquid, surprisingly high and rich chestnut fragrances, mellow flavours with a light bitterness, tender and yellow-green tea residue.