5. June 2017

Green Tea

Green Tea Part 1 ——- Green Tea

Chinese tea may be classified in many ways, according to processing techniques, the basic tea group and the reprocessed tea group. Basic tea group includes green, yellow, white, blue (Oolong), black and dark tea. Green tea 绿茶 [lǜ chá] is the closest to nature among all tea types, one kind of tea is the most precious treasure, 3 gram early spring dry green tea for one infusion needs to pluck more than 100 tea sprouts.

Green teas in China are also the largest yields and the richest varieties among all tea sorts, varieties are widely distributed in the Yangtze River basin and regions south of the Yangtze River. Because dry tea, liquid and residues are all green, people name this kind of teas green tea. From producing techniques, green teas are divided into five sorts, Chao Qing- pan roasted 炒青 (Photo machine fired), Hong Qing- baked 烘青, Hong and Chao Combination, Shai Qing- sun dried 晒青 and Zheng Qing- steamed 蒸青, pan roasted green teas have the largest production. Chao Qing green teas have Xihu Longjing, Wudang Green Myst (Photo), Biluochun and Mengding Ganlu etc., Hong Qing teas are Huangshan Maofeng, Wudang Silver Sword and Needle Well, Wufeng Maojian, Taiping Houkui and Liuan Guapian etc., Shai Qing includes Dian Qing from Yunnan and Chuan Qing from Sichuan etc., and Zheng Qing only has few, Enshi Yulu from Hubei etc.. Although different green teas are processed differently, main steps are de-enzyming 杀青, rolling 揉捻 and drying 干燥, the de-enzyming is the most important step, which is the key to keep the quality.

Green teas have 450 kinds of organic compounde e.g. Phenol derivatives, aromatic substances, amino acids, vitamins and tea tannin etc., inorganic minerals e.g. iron, calcium, phosphorus selenium molybdenum manganese and germanium etc., and a small amount of trace elements. Because green teas are unfermented, dry tea leaves keep more natural substances of fresh leaves, over 85% tea polyphenols and theine, about 50% chlorophyl and vitamins.




Green Tea Part 2 ——- Wudang Daoist Tea

Wudang Mountian is in Hubei Province, which has a long history of producing good tea: in the <History of Song Dynasty 宋史> recorded that in the Song Dynasty, Wudang Daoist Chen Tuan was fond of drinking tea; and in the Yuan Dynasty documents, Wudang daoists planted and produced tea by themselves; Wudang Qian Lin 骞林 tea had been paid tribute to the Ming Dynasty’s imperial court for 200 years, and in the <Collected Taoist Scriptures 道藏> , a picture called “Qian Lin Ying Xiang Tu骞林应祥图” described the grand occasion of harvesting, producing and paying tribute Qian Lin tea; the Qing Dynasty poems records that Wudang daoists brewed tea to receive guests.

In the <Ming Dynasty Xiang Mansion Tea Nunnery Inscription Record大明襄府茶庵碑记>, since in the Ming Dynasty it prevailed that, people from the whole nation went on pilgrimages to offer incense on the Wudang Mountain, these believers needed to climb up mountains to reach the golden peak, King Xiang decided to build a tea nunnery in order to serve these believers tea water. This stela now is kept in the Wudang Museum.

<Zhou Mansion Tea Nunnery 周府茶庵> of <Wudang Travel Notes Twenty-four Pictures武当纪游二十四图> was painted by Zhou Kai (Qing Dynasty) and followed by three poems, he stopped for a rest there and drank tea with a young daoist Ye Wenmei, they both were interested in drinking tea and writing poems. After his first visit, Zhou Kai revisited the nunnery another two times. This painting describes the Zhou masion tea nunnery that built by Ming Dynasty King Zhou on the ancient Wudang pilgrimage road.



Nowadays, wild ancient Qianlin tea trees have been discovered at four places in rock massifs of Wudang mountains since 2008, the biggest one, the latest finding No.3 ancient tea tree is about 10 meter high, 3.3 meter circumference and 1.2 meter diameter of the tree base. Camellia cuspidata (Kochs) Wright ex Gard. is Qianlin’s latin name, because Wudang Mountain is also called Taihe Mountain 太和山, this tea is called Taihe tea by Wudang daoists. Taihe tea made of these tea leaves is rich in amino acids, tea polyphenols, saponins, flavonoids and many beneficial trace elements (germanium, selenium, zinc, cobalt, vanadium and molybdenum). In the 1970s, tea seedlings from the Ying Mountains 英山 in the Northeast of Hubei province were transplanted and in the 1980s, Fuding Da Hao and Fuding Da Bai tea varieties were also transplanted at Wudang.


Green Tea Part 3 ——- Wudang Silver Sword – High Mountian Tea

Big White Hair 大白毫 [dà bái háo] is considered to be the best quality of Wudang Tea, also known as Silver Sword 银剑 [yín jiàn]. It must be harvested in 7-8 days before the Qingming Festival from big leaf varieties of tea tree – Fuding Da Hao and Fuding Da Bai tea varieties at an elevation of about 800m above sea level. These kind of tea tree varities in the Mont. Wudang are only used to produce Big White Hair.

The kind of teas could be called High Mountian Tea 高山茶, the tea fields’ height above sea level must be higher than 800 meters. Comparing with other teas growing at lower see levels, high mountian teas are much more special: first, high mountian tea’s tastes are more clear and sweet, because of strong root systems, high mountain tea plants could absorb more mineral substances and nutrients;

Second, high mountian tea’s textures are more smooth and soft, since high mountains surround all the year round with cloud and mist, high humidities, rich diffusion lights and big differences in temperature between the day and the night are optimal for tea plants to produce some desirable compounds;

Third, high mountian tea’s liquid is more clear and bright, because lights on high mountains are mainly blue-purple lights, which could restrain undesirable compounds to produce; Fourth, high mountian green tea‘s fragrances are much higher, longer daylight hours and relative lower temperatures are good for fresh leaves to produce aromatic compounds.


Green Tea Part 4 ——- Ming Qian Wudang Daoist Tea

Before the Qingming Festival – Ming Qian 明前 [míng qián], only tea shoots should be harvested in the Wudang Mountain, tea harvested one week later after the festival is much differenter than one havrvested before. Mainly two different tea tree varieties are used to produce tea locally, because of more hair (fragrance), higher sweetness and nicer appearance, Silver Sword as one variety of big leaves is more popular than a small leaf variety, and since big leaf tea trees are only used to produce Silver Sword and small leaf tea trees to produce more kinds (1 shoot 1 leaf Needle Well 针井 [zhēn jǐng],1 shoot 2-3 leaves 普茶 [pǔ chá] and etc.).



Green Tea Part 5 ——- Wudang Needle Well Tea – Tea Farming

Needle Well 针井 [zhēn jǐng] tea is made from tender leaves with 1 shoot 1 leaf, it should be also harvested before the Qingming Festival to ensure a good quality. Its specialty is the hand-rolling and basket charcoal-baking procedure during its process, which helps to increase more fragrances and form its beautiful tight-thin shap.

Nowdays, tea farmers use many physical ways for manual weedings and disinsections, for example, sticky boards or/and solar devices to attract insects.

Because tea plants absorb many particular elements from the earth, for instance, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and bush tea plants have relative shorter root systems than scrub and tree tea plants to take more particular nutritions in deeper and wider soils, in order to use bush tea plants to produce tea longer than 40-50 years, it is necessery to use bio fertilisers annually, plant ash, manure… before the Frost’s Descent 霜降.

Tea farmers also prefer to irrigate by collecting rain water in countainers or/and pounds.


Green Tea Part 6 ——- Differences between two harvest times

Before and after the Qingming Festival

Shoots after the Qingming Festival (雨前 [yǔ qián] before the Grain Rain 谷雨 [gǔ yǔ] Festival) are not as plump and tender as ones before (明前 [míng qián]), which could effect the appearance of dry tea. Because Ming Qian Tea has more aroma components and amino acids, less polyphenol contents (bitterness), it tastes fresh and delicious. But before the Qingming Festival, because of generally low temperatures and a limited number of germination, Ming Qian Tea doesn’t contian rich substances and an infusion-enduring taste. On the contrary, Yu Qian Tea is more enduring and has plenty of strong flavours.


Green Tea Part 7 ——- Wudang Daoist Green Myst

After the Qingming Festival, it’s time to harvest the Normal Tea (Green Myst) of 1 shoot 2-3 leaves in 15 days till the Grain Rain 谷雨 [gǔ yǔ] Festival. For example, in a 5 “亩 [mǔ] a unit of area (=0.0667 hectares)” tea field, 11 people could pick around 150- 200kg fresh tea leaves up in a period 5:00 to 18-19:00 per day. After a day time harvest, tea leaves need to be processed immediately at night time of the same day by another group of experts, 6-700g fresh leaves: 100g dry tea.


Green Tea Part 8 ——-  Ranking of Chinses Tea Regional Public Brand Value

The Chinses tea regional public brand value of Wudang Daoist Tea has raised from 1.545 billion RMB (2014) to 1.793 billion RMB (2015) then to 2.007 billion RMB (2016), from 17th (2014) to 16th (2015 and 2016) in this ranking.



Green Tea Part 9 ——-Tuan Huang

Nan Wudang – Yingshan green tea is a very famous tea in Hubei and the whole China with a long history, it has been called Yingshan Yunwu tea nowadays as one of ancient Tuan Huang – 团黄 [tuán huáng] yellow tea and offered to the Tang and Song imperial court as a tribute. The Tang litterateur, Li Zhao’s <Collating Tang Nation History> listed Yingshan Tuan Huang as the third place of 14 tribute teas, the Song litterateur and calligrapher, Su Shi was used to work as an escort to pay Tuan Huang tea tribute to the capital city and regretted, it was such a pity that he hadn’t tasted it in his life.

Green Tea Part 10 ——- Wufeng Mao Jian

Wufeng Mao Jian 五峰毛尖 originates from the Wufeng Tujia ethnic minority autonomous county in the Southwest of the Hubei Province, this county is a offset of the Wuling mountain range (the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau). This area also has a clear climate characteristics of Yangtze river valley, the soil is rich in zinc, selenium and other beneficial trace elements, which are very suitable for tea growth, big tea trees grown on both riversides are so thick that two men can get arms around. Wufeng Mao Jian is green tea, top qualities are only used tender spring sprouts or 1 shoot/1 leaf.



Green Tea Part 11 ——- Enshi Yu Lu

Hubei Enshi Yu Lu 恩施玉露 – Jade Dewdrop is a special kind of green tea, which is used the traditional Zheng Qing- steamed 蒸青 method to process tea leaves. Since the Tang Dynasty, the steamed technique was introduced into Japan from China and kept very well, the Japanese Yu Lu tea nowadays is very similar to Enshi Yu Lu. Enshi Yu Lu has a clear tea liquid as dewdrop and a tender green color as jade.

Green Tea Part 12 ——- Frying Tea Competition

Huangjin Town, Hunan Province (Tujia and Miao ethnic minority)

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