Pre-Qing Ming Tea Time Is Near!

Wild Green Tea #3 - click to see detailsThe fever has kicked in – the irresistible desire for those fresh white and green teas that will be coming soon. Yes, pre-Qing Ming Tea Time is here, although they will probably not appear on the market until the April – May timeframe. And we are salivating at the very thought. Time to see what’s so special about these teas.

Qing Ming is the festival where the Chinese people honor their ancestors, visiting their graves (or tombs), sweeping away debris, and adding decorations. For tea, this is also an important time, marking the difference in tea qualities. The pre-Qing Ming teas are the anxiously awaited first buds after Winter. They are usually considered special since the plants put forth quite a burst as soon as they can when the temperatures are warm enough and the rays of the sun hit them at the right angle. Their flavors can dance on your palate more vibrantly yet lightly.

A few teas to watch for:

3 Leaves Temple

3 Leaves Temple Green Tea

  • Area from: Anhui Province, China
  • Harvest Period: March when buds succulent.
  • Taste: Gentle astringency, slight jammy finish.
  • Preparation Hot: 1-1.5 tsps leaves, 6-8 oz water, 180°F, 3 mins, sip with leaves in cup, add water, sip, repeat until flavor is exhausted.
  • Preparation Iced: 6 tsps dry leaves, 1.25 cups of water, 212°F (100°C), 5 minutes. Fill pitcher 1/4th with cold water. Pour in hot tea, straining leaves. Add ice and cold water. (Makes 1 quart)
  • History: It is believed tea was named for the 3 kingdoms (Shu, Wu, and Wei, 184-220 AD). The area now called Anhui was under a powerful warlord (Cao Cao), founder of Wei, who sought to unite the kingdoms. This tea was created and named in honor of his vision. When infused the leaves united.
  • Monks living in monasteries in Anhui’s mountains are known for their tea. Many of their tea gardens and processing methods are centuries old.

China Beauty Rings

China Beauty Rings

  • Area from: 2 villages in Mount Meng Region, Szechuan (Sichuan) Province, China
  • Harvest Period: end of March, 1st 2 weeks April
  • Taste: Toasty, pleasant jammy-like character.
  • Appearance: bud/shoots show during infusing.
  • Preparation: 1 tsp leaves, 6-8 oz water, 180°F (90°C), 3 mins. Good for 3-4 infusions.
  • Streamed, handmade into ringlets. 1st/2nd leaf of new shoots are plucked, withered, slightly steamed, hand-rolled lengthwise, best are curled around a “beauty stick,” pressed flat, dried in a special oven.
  • Similar to Daughter Ring Green Tea and Daughter’s Ring Early Spring Green Tea.

Chun Yu

Chun Yu

  • Also called: Wu Yang Spring Rain, Wu Yi Chun Yu, Wu Yang Chun Yu High Mountain Tea, 武阳春雨
  • Area from: Wuyi County, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Harvest Period: February-March
  • Taste: slightly yellow, pure and mellow
  • Appearance: light green/slightly yellow, pine needle shaped

Daughter Ring Green Tea

Daughter Ring Green Tea

  • Area from: Simao, Yunnan Province, China
  • Harvest: end of March and first 2 weeks of April (so not all is pre-Qing Ming)
  • Appearance: 1st & 2nd leaf of new shoots from large-leaf tea trees, bottoms covered with new down.
  • Preparation: 3g dry leaves; 100 ml water; 80°C, 1 min. (delicate), 2 mins. (stronger), 3-4 infusions.
  • How made: Leaves withered, steamed, hand-rolled lengthwise, best selected, curled around “beauty stick,” pressed flat, dried in a special oven. Similar to China Beauty Rings and Daughter’s Ring Early Spring Green Tea.

Long Jing Green Tea

Long Jing 43

  • Also called: Dragon Well, Lung Ching, 新昌龙井
  • Area from: on the mountains surrounding the city of Hangzhou, around the West Lake, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Harvest Period: sprouts earlier than other tea species, usually in late March in Spring
  • Appearance: green leaves, long and flat
  • Preparation: 3-5 mins., 80-85°C, gaiwan recommended
  • Tea plant varietal is quick growing, resists cold temperatures, and suitable for making green teas and black teas. The spring buds contains 3.7% amino acid, 18.5% tea polyphenol, 12.1% EGCG and 4.0% caffeine.

Lu Jian

Lu Jian

  • Also called: Green Sword Tea, Zhu Ji Lu Jian, 诸暨绿剑
  • Area from: Longmen Mountain and Dongbai Mountain, Zhuji City, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Harvest Period: late March when bud stands, like green swords
  • Taste: clear liquid, clean aroma, mellow.
  • Appearance: Shaped like a green sword collected from the sword-leaved variation tea tree, a bud and 2 leaves, about 3 cm in length, neat uniform.
  • Awards: Won Zhejiang famous brand in Zhejiang Province and other honors.
  • Excellent quality, won praise from the tea sector.
  • A specialty tea.

Tian Mu Qing Ding

Tian Mu Qing Ding

  • Also called: Heavenly Blue Peak, Blue Green Summit, Tian Mu Yun Wu, 天目青顶
  • Area from: bamboo forests of Tian Mu Mountains, Zhejiang Province, China
  • Harvest Period: late March to early April, just before Qing Ming festival
  • Taste: nuanced, offering some nuttiness, savory yet naturally sweet, lingers, plenty of mouth feel in the finish
  • Appearance: delicate leaves, richly fresh-green color, a prized, high-mountain varietal
  • Preparation: 3g dry leaves; 100 ml water; 80°C, 1 min. (delicate), 2 mins. (stronger), 3-4 infusions.
  • Preparation: 3g dry leaves for 8-12 oz. water, 4-5g dry leaves for 12-16 oz. water; 165-185°F, 1-2 mins (longer will be more intense flavor but some astringency)

Xue Long

Xue Long Snow Dragon

  • Also called: Snow Dragon
  • Area from: Taishan (Toishan), Guangdong Province, China
  • Area from: Fuding County, upper Fujian Province, China
  • Harvest Period: mid-March to pre-Qing Ming
  • Taste: very delicate, refreshing, full, sweet, rich aftertaste; earthy aroma
  • Appearance: thin leaves with some markings of white or golden color, sometimes flat, and sometimes curled lengthwise
  • Preparation: Well below boiling, 1-3 minutes
  • The name “snow” is from the fine hairs on the leaves, making this tea sometimes classified by vendors as white and sometimes as green.

Yunwu

Yunwu

  • Also called: Clouds and Mist, 云雾
  • Area from: Zhejiang Province, China
  • Harvest Period: end of March
  • Taste: exceptional, soft, shimmering, exceedingly fresh, slightly sweet, very aromatic, wonderfully refreshing
  • Appearance: dark green leaves, well-formed with a slight twist

Zhu Ye QingZhu Ye Qing

  • Also called: Bamboo Tips, 竹叶青茶
  • Area from: Emei Mountain in Sichuan Province, China. Tea gardens are at 800-1200 meters up the mountain.
  • Harvest Period: mid March to Qing Ming (April 2nd this year). Often one of the first of such teas to appear in the market.
  • Taste: Clear liquid with a brisk, fresh taste that to some is akin to bamboo or willow bark, and a sweetish lingering aftertaste; bitter if oversteeped or the water used is too hot.
  • Appearance: unopened buds, bright green, shiny, flat, and short.
  • Preparation Hot: 1-2.5 teaspoons (2.5-3 grams) tea buds, 7.6 ounces (225ml) water, use tea ware made of glass or porcelain, rinse teacup and teapot with hot water, 1 min first and second infusion, add 10 seconds to each subsequent infusion.
  • History: This tea style was first made by a Buddhist Monk at the Wannian Temple on this mountain in the early 1960s.

Zi Sun Cha

Zi Sun Cha

  • Also called: Chang Xing Zi Sun, Changxing Zisun, Gu Zhu Zi Shu, Huzhou Zisun, Purple Bamboo Shoot
  • Area from: Guzhu village, Changxing County, Zhejiang (Chingkiang) Province, China
  • Harvest Period: Spring (First Flush)
  • Taste: clear, bright, aroma of orchids with hint of fresh fruit sweetness; light, refreshing.
  • Appearance: unprocessed leaf is partially purple; slim, narrow, resembles bamboo shoot; highest grade is buds, slight purple after infusing.
  • Preparation: using fewer leaves, infuse in glass or porcelain tea ware, rinse cup and teapot with hot water. 2g leaves, 150 ml water, 158-176°F (70-80°C), 1 minute 1st & 2nd steeping. Gradually increase time and temp. for subsequent steepings.
  • History: Famous as early as 1,200 years ago. Dates back to 8th Century CE, when Lu Yu, the famous tea master, set up a tea factory dedicated to producing Gu Zhu Zi Sun as the first tribute tea for the Tang Dynasty Emperor. Initially this tea was steamed into cakes and then ground into a powder to drink. In 1368 AD this tea was brewed using whole leaves.

While you’re waiting for these various teas and others to appear on the market, enjoy some of our other fine teas that we have in stock.

See also:
Tea Time After Qing Ming Festival and Easter Sunday
Welcoming Spring with Fresh Teas!

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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