China Tea: 10 of the Best

Tea, that most elegant of restoratives. Forget coffee and its all caffeinated edginess; it is he who drinks tea that will truly find greatness. As the masterful Chinese writer, Lin Yutang said, “There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life.” And with that in mind, we here at the The World of Chinese bring you 10 of the best, classic teas:

[ Note: According to  fermentation-based qualification there are five types of tea: white, green, yellow, turquoise (oolong), red and black. In this list you will find them all.]

Ti Kuan Yin

(碧螺春 – tiě guān yīn)

Iron Goddess. Is perhaps the most famous of oolong teas.  Originating in the 19th century and harvested in North Fujian, the tea has a subtle floral bouquet and is widely known for its significant health benefits; it increases energy levels in the body; it is a  a great antioxidant, serving to boost the immune system, while fighting cancer and heart diseases;  it increases bone mineral density, providing stronger bones; and finally, it provides anti-fungal support, meaning it can re-balance the body after taking antibiotics. If the health benefits aren’t your thing, well, we think it tastes pretty damn fine. The tea should be steeped at a relatively high temperature of 185 – 205 F degrees for 3-5 minutes.

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10

Feng Qing and Dian Hong

This month’s Global Tea Hut sample is an Autumn 2013 Wild grown Feng Qing Dian Hong they have dubbed “Golden Vajra” The Flavors are smooth and malty with a sweet and dryness that can only be found from Yunnan. 

On my trip to China in the late spring of 2012, we stopped in Feng Qing not knowing what to expect. We knew there was tea but beyond that we didn’t know the extent of amazing things that were in store for us. 

As we arrived to our business hotel, we were given the instruction that we had very little time before we would eat dinner and then have tea. We barely had a breath after our 8+ hour bus ride from Kunming before we were whisked away. From this moment forward, Feng Qing is one of the best places I have ever visited in my life!

Not only were we treated to an amazing dinner with far too many courses for us to eat, we had to help our digestion with fresh Hong Cha at the local teashop. This tea shop was about the size of a passenger van and we were supposed to cram 10+ people including many big and tall Czechs in around the tea table. We managed, even in the heat to drink at least 5 fresh teas (probably closer to 10 but I can’t remember.) We drank so much tea and yet were so relaxed/exhausted that we all slept great.

What was originally going to be a stopover stay of two nights and one full day turned into three days and four nights because there was so much to see and do. On our first full day we took a trip up a mountain on one side of town to Jingxiu village with an unexpected treasure.

Feng Qing is surrounded on almost all sides but mountains of tea bushes and rice pats. After the 2 hour slightly sketchy bus ride up the mountain with tea terraces whizzing by, I was wondering why we didn’t just stop at any of the bushes if all we were there for was to look at tea plants. We were told our destination had a very old tea tree rumored to be 3200 years old!  This was unheard of. We knew of 1800 year old trees and 1000 year old trees are marketed in puer shops all over the place. 3200 years is mind-blowing. General sherman is around 2500-2700 old to give some perspective. I thought this was crazy but wanted to see what a tree of this magnitude would look like. When we pulled up to our destination we couldn’t see the tree, only terraced tea and a few small buildings. We exited the bus and headed up a staircase to a little plateau that was later turned into a marketplace for the villagers to sell us tea they made. This was followed by a marble sign explaining the shrine in progress to designate this sacred space for the tree. We see a gate at the end of the wall which opens to our first view of the tree. 

A spectacular sight! Very much like the view of the tree of life in The Fountain a big round form filled our eyeline. As we approached the tree we realized its true size. Not the tallest tea tree but certainly quite large at around 50feet tall. The trunk was around 25 or so feet in circumference. The leaves were huge, the size of my hand in many cases (I saved one in my tea journal) 

We all tried to hug the tree, climb in the tree and pose with it as any tourist does with any monument. I have no doubt that this is the oldest known tea tree in the world, I don’t know if the age is correct but it doesn’t matter to me, this is THE tree - Cha Zu: Tea ancestor.  

After we spent our time with the tree, we bought tea from the villagers then headed back into town for another huge meal and a night of drinking Hong Cha at the shop. 

The following day was a trip to the Daoist Stone Cave Temple in the mountains on the other side of town from where the Tree was. We were greeted by a priest wearing white traditional Chinese garb who led us through the grounds. We were the only visitors at the temple and even though there were 15 or so of us, it was so tranquil being the only ones to experience this sacred place. The weather was perfect, the wind was strong enough to make the bells chime and the air was crisp providing a perfect escape in the hills. 

We enjoyed a fantastic lunch, drank more tea of course, watched Payton practice Tai Chi with the Kung-Fu practicing teenage monk watching intently. There was a shrine to Guan Yin in a small cave off one of the paths and two Ancestor shrines atop the hill across from the main alter. perhaps the most interesting part of this Temple experience was having gifts we purchased for friends and family blessed by the priest and monks at the main alter. 

The following day we visited another tea farm and the Da Bai Tian Tea Factory where we saw the production of the Hong Cha we had been drinking at the shop. We drank tea in the factory showroom and talked about the various steps in producing Dian Hong. As we drank a couple of freshly made teas, one of our tour guides, a young man who was taking pictures for us, took out a bag of tea he bought from the jingxiu villagers. What he had was puer made from the Tea Ancestor! Even though this was not a 3200 year old puer, it was around 5 or so years old and had the cha qi of meditating Ent. A truly unique experience that I am unlikely to ever replicate.

For all these reasons and many more, Feng Qing holds a special place in my heart. As I drink the tea from Global Tea Hut I am called back so vividly to the experiences and images of my trip. I miss China and each cup is a small taste to keep these memories close.

4

Yunnan Gold 

Birthplace in Yunnan, China - the birthplace of tea. This tea stands out from the rest of the teas within the area because of it’s distinctive golden tips and sweet & earth flavor.

The golden tips are actually the plant’s fine leaf buds, that have a hairy golden sheen. Here are some words to explain the flavors:

Milk Chocolately / Creamy / Sweet / Peppery / Silky / Smooth / Sweet Earth / Stone Fruit /

High-Grade quality Yunnan Gold will have close to nil astringency - even if brewed for long periods of time. It also an offshoot variety of Dianhong, which encompasses several tea varieties that share the golden tip feature. 

5

Дянь Хун Мао Фэн

Регион - Юньнань

Дянь Хун Мао Фэн - яркий согревающий красный чай (черный чай) .

Настой с богатым вкусом чернослива и чайной розы, теплым фруктовым ароматом идеально подходит для холодной и сырой погоды. С первой чашки ощущаешь, как согревается все тело, расслабляются мыщцы, и появляются силы. 

Хорошо сочетается с медом и молоком. 

Именно такие чаи традиционно пили в Царской России!

GOLD STANDARD

After my break yesterday to go adventuring, my boss emailed me today essentially asking if I still existed (I work from home). Serves me right for normally being so consistent and attentive in my work! So now I’ve found myself with 5 files to complete tonight and instead of worrying about them (…or just doing them…) I’ve decided to make tea and write an excessively long post about it for no one.

Today’s choice: Golden Buds (2012) dian hong jin ya [金芽滇紅]

Type: Black (red) tea

Because: It’s amazing.

Directions: Approximately 4 grams for a ~12oz pot, boiling water, let the first one sit about 3 minutes, able to be used 5+ times- just let each subsequent infusion sit a bit longer.

image

 

Will I ever take a decent picture??

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Fresh Tracks Breakfast is our Organic Ancient Tea Tree #Yunnan black #DianHong from Camellia Sinensis var. assamica of Da yeh ( broad leaf varietal) it is a handharvested tree of full body and smooth finish with raison and chocolate notes - also it is the base for our #EarlGrey and also our #EchinaChai #tea taste the difference of Heirloom #Tea #TeaCrafters

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