What Do Eyebrows Have to Do with Tea?

The word “eyebrow” pops up time and again in the world of tea. This can seem strange at first. After all, what do eyebrows have to do with tea? The answer is simpler than you might think.

Ming Mei (Lady’s Slender Eyebrow)

A lot of tea names are translated from Chinese, which does not use the alphabet used by the Romance Languages (Italian, French, etc.) as well as German and English. This means they have to be “Romanized,” that is, rewritten using our alphabet (a, b, c, d, etc.). Sometimes a phonetic translation is done, attempting to imitate how the original name is pronounced. In this case various spellings can come up, such as “Chun Mee” and “Chun Mei.” In other cases, the Romanized name is a translation based on the meaning of the original name, such as “Tribute Eyebrow.” So, some teas named “Eyebrow This” or “Eyebrow That” are literal translations. They are usually named this for a fairly obvious reason, once you get to know the tea: the dry leaves are in a shape that to some looks like eyebrows. Ta da! Mystery solved!

Some “Eyebrow” Teas:

Xiaobu Yan tea (小布岩茶) — a green specialty tea produced in the town of Xiaobu in Ningdu Country, Jianxi Province, China. The leaves are usually picked in early March and consists of buds in an early stage of development, 3-3.5 cm in length. The dry leaves are shaped like curly eyebrows.

Golden Eyebrow Lapsang Souchong (Jinjunmei) — a black tea made completely of tea bud tips (buds) that are tight, slender and ranging in color from golden yellow to black. They have a shape like a curved eyebrow.

Huaguoshan Yunwu tea (花果山云雾茶) — a green specialty tea produced in Lianyungang City, Jiangsu Province in China. The leaves are a bud or a bud and two leaves and have the shape of an eyebrow when fully processed.

Imperial Lapsang Golden Eyebrow (正山小种) — the rarest Lapsang Souchong black tea in the world, picked from a rare and primitive species of wild tea growing at 1500-1800 meters altitude in the Wuyi Mountains. They have a curved eyebrow shape and are gold-yellow to black in color and covered in fine tea hairs.

Erui tea (峨蕊茶) — a specialty roasted green tea produced in Emei Mountain area of the Sichuan Province in China. The picking standard is a bud and a leaf, and is refined by hand. The finished leaves are shaped like eyebrows.

Jiangxi Imperial Ming Mei (Lady’s Slender eyebrow) — a famous green tea from Jiangxi Province, China. The dry bud-and-leaf combos, grown in high mountains in Wuyuan county, are in a shape like a lady’s slender eyebrows (thus the name) and covered with fine tea hair.

Wuyuan Ming Mei tea(婺源茗眉) — a specialty green tea named for the shape of the dry leaves, which is like a woman’s eyebrows. It’s produced in Wuyuan County in Jiangxi Province, China.

Chun Mee (珍眉) — a famous green tea produced in most counties of Zhejiang Province in China. Also called Chun Mei, Zhen Mei, Mee Cha, and Precious Eyebrows. The leaves are bud-and-leaf or bud-and-two-leaves combos. There are several quality levels — the high grade have a very consistent size and shape, and any picked before the Grain Rain are considered to be a higher quality. The highest grade is 41022, then 9371, 9370, 9369, 9368, 9367, 9366 (lowest grade), and 9380 (leftover fannings from the production of the other grades). The dry leaves have a thin, eyebrow-like shape.

Nanshan Shoumei tea (南山寿眉) — a green specialty tea produced in Lijiayuan of Liyang Country, Jiangsu Province, China. The leaves are usually the bud-and-leaf combo and about 1.5-2.5 cm in length. After processing, they are flat, fairly even, and in the shape of eyebrows.

Longevity Eyebrow (Shou Mei) — a fruity tasting white tea produced in Fujian Province and Guangxi Province in China. The dry leaves are furry and a mix of tips and upper leaves, giving it a stronger flavor more similar to Oolong than other white teas. It is the 4th grade of white tea and is plucked later than Bai Mu Dan, so the tea liquid may be a darker color. It is

Tribute Eyebrow (Gong Mei) — a white tea that contains a low amount of buds and mostly young leaves plucked after Silver Needle and White Peony was harvested.

Tunxi (祁红屯绿) — a green tea produced in the same Huangshan area as Keemun tea. Also known by these names: Tunlu tea, Tunlv tea, Twankay, Twankey, and Green Gold. The finished leaves are tightly rolled and kinked similar to an eyebrow. This appearance is the reason for the name of some of the sub-varieties: Precious Eyebrow, Tribute, Needle, First Rain, and Green Flake.

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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