Green tea is the most enjoyed tea in China, Japan and Korea. It was such an important part of the culture in China that the New Year was marked by the emperor drinking his first cup of first flush green tea. While it is one of the least processed of all tea types, it still requires precise technique and knowledge to make. Huang Shan Mao Feng is one of those green teas that wonderfully portrays to us the skills of the tea masters. If made correctly, it is a sweet, refreshing tea, with notes of chestnuts and spring florals, possessing plenty of cha qi.
What Is Green Tea
For centuries, the only type of tea available was green tea.
Green teas are known for their undeniably fresh flavor. Originating in China, green tea production spread to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.
Tea farmers use a variety of methods to fire the freshly harvested leaves, preventing the natural oxidation process and preserving the fresh, vibrant green characteristics of the leaf.
Green teas are the least oxidized of all the tea categories. They are categorized by the firing method and craftsmanship technique: steamed, pan-fired, oven-baked, half-roasted, half-baked, hot-air roasted, and sun-dried.
The not so secret to a quality green tea is stopping the oxidation process as quickly as possible. Essentially oxidation begins the moment a tea leaf is picked. Without oxidation and at least a minimal form of processing (commonly pan-firing for Chinese green teas), the tea leaves are too thick to be able to infuse our brew. This means that tea shouldn't sit around for too long after picking, and the processing should commence fairly quickly. Knowing how to process the tea leaves in the most minimal way possible is key to achieving a tasty, vibrant green tea.
At times, taking a product and bringing out the best out of it, while using minimal effort, is one of the most difficult challenges.
The Brief History of Green Tea
In ancient China, the day that the emperor sipped the first cup of the newest green tea harvest — was declared the first day of spring. This, in turn, signified the New Year.
Thus, green tea can be seen as the embodiment of spring itself — light, refreshing, floral, and full of life and vitality!
Green tea holds a special place in Chinese tea culture and overall history. Many of China's top teas are indeed green teas. Their minimal processing ensures that we get the most authentic taste. Light and sweet, with an unforgettable aroma, it's hard not to be enticed by these teas! Read more on the history of green tea.
Huang Shan Mao Feng Green Tea is a special tea. It is commonly picked during Qing Ming, which is in early April. It is an essential date for tea harvest, producing some of the sweetest teas before the leaves start to develop more bitter notes.
The name translates to Yellow Mountain Fur Peak tea, the fur representing the soft fuzz that covers the tea leaves. The fur is known to be natural self-defense against bugs that may wish to feast on the sweetness of the young tea leaves. It is common amongst other tea varieties as well. It is generally known to produce a more delicate tea, which is particularly noticeable in a tea, like Silver Needle White Tea.
The landscape where this tea grows is also worth mentioning. The Huangshan Mountains of Anhui province are romanticized in many traditional Chinese ink paintings. The mountain peaks are tall and pointy, covered with clouds and fog.
How Is Huangshan Maofeng Made?
- The tea leaves must be hand-harvested
- The leaves are roasted over a high fire
- The leaves are left to briefly dry
- The leaves are gently hand-roasted over charcoal using bamboo mesh screens.
This step can be tricky, as the fire has to be low enough to not over-bake the tea leaves, and no smoke should be present as not to impart a smoky flavor on the fresh green tea leaves.
- The leaves are baked for a second time over charcoal, this time in special bamboo baskets, to ensure there is no remaining moisture
- Finally, the tea is sorted and packed
The steps for processing this green tea are relatively simple. Especially if we compare to more complicated teas like oolongs, which require precise knowledge of technique and lengthy steps. However, it is in the mastery of the simplicity that lay the secrets of this teas undeniable delicacy and unforgettable taste.
How To Brew Huangshan Maofeng Tea
- Water temperature: 175℉ / 80℃
- Rinse. Then 5sec + 5sec for each subsequent infusion (if brewing gong fu style)