Cloud tea is a Chinese green tea that originally comes from Nanyue Mountain. Tea enthusiasts call it so after the thick clouds surrounding the mountain peaks where the tea grows. Another common name for it is Clouds and Mist Tea. In Chinese, we refer to it as Yun Wu. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), this green tea was a tribute tea which tea producers reserved exclusively for the Emperor. Now, we can all enjoy the sweet and elegant taste of Chinese cloud tea. The great tea master Lu Yu even mentions it in his book — the Cha Jing.
Lu shan Yun Wu Clouds and Mist Green Tea is on China's Top Tea list.
Tea Processing — Cloud Tea
The processing of this interesting tea follows steps not too different from the processing of other Chinese green tea varieties.
After picking, farmers heat the leaves to stop oxidation. Then, they carefully hand-roll the tea leaves into their iconic shape with the help of big bamboo baskets. Finally, they bake the tea leaves, which gives them the ever so slightly nutty taste.
The Legends Of Cloud Tea
The first legend of Yun Wu is indeed very intriguing and unusual. The story is surrounded by Chinese mythology, making this tea interesting not only for tea enthusiasts. The legend tells of the Monkey King, who would eat peaches and drink wine on Huaguo Mountain. One day, he became tired of his usual snacks and decided to fly to heaven to try some of the Emperor's special tea. On his way up, the Monkey King noticed an unusual tea tree. It was indeed harvest season, yet the Monkey King had never harvested tea before. As he was pondering, a flock of birds flew by. Noticing that the Monkey King was in distress, they asked him what was wrong. The Monkey King said that he enjoyed Huaguo Mountain. However, he missed having some nice tea, which the mountain lacked.
Upon hearing this, the birds harvested the tea seeds and flew towards Huaguo Mountain to plant them. On the way there, however, they noticed a beautiful place — it was Mount Lu. They were so enthralled by its grandeur, the high peaks, the clouds, and the mountain creaks, that they began singing. Immediately, all the seeds fell from their beaks and onto the mountain's terrain. Soon enough, the seeds grew, and the mountain became covered with majestic tea trees. Eventually, farmers began to harvest Cloud Tea from these very tea trees.
Yet another, more humble legend speaks of a monk called Huiyuan who lived on Mount Lu. The monk took wild tea trees and planted them around his home so he could easily harvest and process the delicious tea leaves. Then, he would invite friends over for cups of the floral green tea.
The Different Types Of Cloud Tea
Lu Shan Cloud Tea
Tea artisans also call this tea Clouds & Mist Lu Shan Yun Wu Green Tea. During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), tea artisans dedicated it as a tribute tea for the Emperor, and it is still the most popular cloud tea today. As the name suggests, farmers grow this tea on Mount Lu (Lu Shan), Jiangxi Province. This mountain has an abundance of lakes and rivers, producing a thick mist that doesn't leave the mountain peaks. There, farmers grow Lu Shan Cloud Tea.
Ying Shan Cloud Tea
Farmers grow Yingshan Cloud Tea on Ying Mountain (Ying Shan) in Hubei Province.
Yuntai Shan Cloud Tea
Farmers grow this tea on Yuntai Mountain (Yuntai Shan). This variety of cloud tea is exceptionally fragrant yet very scarce. The tea trees on Yuntai Shan don't have an enormous yield.
There are also other varieties of Yun Wu, including cloud teas from Lian Yun Gang, Mogan Shan, Yandang Shan, Putuo Shan, and the Wuyi Mountains. Each tea possesses its own unique aroma and taste. Indeed, cloud tea enthusiasts often try every variety of this mesmerizing green tea that they can find.
Let's Taste Tea — Yun Wu Green Tea
The abundance of clouds and mist in the mountains where this tea grows leaves us with a very chlorophyll-rich green tea. Since the tea leaves don't receive much sunlight, the result is dark green tea leaves, similar to shaded Japanese teas like gyokuro.
The taste of this tea is refreshing and brisk, with a pleasant sweetness. Upon the first infusions, the aroma of the tea is sweet with notes of chestnuts, cookies, and stir-fried beans. The finish is a long-lasting floral scent.
How To Make Green Tea — Cloud Tea
Cloud tea, just like any other green tea, is very gentle. Be very vigilant of the water temperature and brewing time, as this tea can quickly become tannic if brewed incorrectly.
Brew cloud tea at a temperature of 175℉ / 80℃. We suggest enjoying a Gong Fu Cha session with this tea. You might especially enjoy using glass teaware, like a glass teapot or gaiwan. This way, you can enjoy watching the beautifully coiled tea leaves opening up and dancing while brewing.