4 Great Chinese Teas to Enjoy Now!
The season turns: the days extend, sunshine warms up the earth and wakes the tea trees. In the great Chinese terroirs, excitement is in the air. Farmers are eager to see the first buds flushing. This is the finest plant material of the year. Grown with care and transformed with attention, they will express unequaled freshness and the mastery of Chinese tea culture. Producing the most prized grand crus.
Every year we travel to the gardens to witness this budding. We have to be quick as time is short. This first season only lasts a few weeks and competition is harsh for buyers. We search for the best lots, visiting gardens and reconnecting with our favorite producers. This moment marks the beginning of spring arrivals in our shops. This wave of new teas is hard to miss. Bought in various quantities for the year to come, they are at their best when they arrive.
In our shops it is the perfect time to purchase grand crus at the peak of their freshness. Unlike most everyday teas, those precious lots are not available all year. Transformed and harvested manually (according to different regional Chinese traditions), they are produced in small quantities to be enjoyed immediately while their tasting experience is at its best. Tasting them in this season we understand why they stand above many of the other teas in the catalogue.
For amateurs of freshness, here are four great Chinese teas to taste this spring:
Praised for the beauty of its steeping leaves and the fresh chestnut scents they give off, Long Jing is the most famous green tea in China. Harvested in Shi Feng (original terroir), Zhejiang, this small production (20kg) is masterfully created by the Tang family, with whom we have been working since 2003. Complex aromas and smooth liquor, this grand cru combines aromatic richness and finely balanced flavors.
Not so long ago, it still took an hour by boat to reach the Tai Pink Hou Kui tea gardens. Today, even though a new road connects Hou Keng village (original terroir), the tea it produces has kept all of its mystical status. Made from unique artisanal techniques, this large leaf tea presents an impossible to reproduce aromatic profile. Sweet scents, bewitching aromas (green vegetables), liquor loaded with aromatic oils, this tea trails down your throat like thick syrup, lingering in the breath and warming the heart. Gao Tiao cultivar, the highest grade of Tai Ping Hou Kui.
Made from a local wild cultivar (Jingning Bai), this tea is M. He’s masterpiece. Its skillfully rolled small leaves give off scents of fresh vegetables, citrus zest and flowers. Thick in mouth, it reveals great balance between bitterness and sweetness resulting from a rare ability in transformation. Delicious fresh asparagus and peas aromas, complete the profile with a light floral touch (lilacs).
Produced in Du Yun Mountain (Guizhou), Bi Luo Chun tea is made from extremely fine plucking where tender young buds make up most of the harvest. Skillfully transformed by M. Li’s hand in traditional woks, these tiny rolled shoots give off surprisingly intense fragrances. Deep herbal aromas in a full-bodied brew, this rich and tasty tea possesses a unique balance between body and finesse.
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