Wednesday, December 6, 2017

An Introduction To The Whole Production Process Of Phoenix Dancong Oolong With Illustrations

Originally produced from Phoenix Mountains, Chaozhou,  Guangdong Province. Phoenix Dancong Oolong are noted for their ability to naturally imitate the flavors and fragrances of various flowers and fruits, such as orange blossom, orchid, grapefruit, almond. Often, these teas are named after what that particular harvest is reminiscent of: 'Mi Lan Xiang(Honey Fragrance)', 'Huang Zhi Xiang",‘Yu Lan Xiang’,'Xin Ren Xiang(Almond Fragrance)', etc.

Tea trees mostly are growing among Phoenix Mountains at an altitude between 400 to 1400 meters. The oldest tea trees are believed to be more than 700 years old.



It is time for harvesting the spring crops Phoenix Dancong Oolong at the beginning of April every year. The harvesting takes around one month, lasting from Qing Ming (4-5th April) to Li Xia(5-7th May). There are many cultivars of phoenix Dancong with different buds-sprouting time.  Harvesting begins from Bai Ye and Mi Lan Xiang cultivars and ends at Ba Xian and Zhi Lan Cultivars every year.






Old tea trees are high and it isn't easy to pluck tea leaves. People need to use ladders.



People should be careful and don't hurt the fresh leaves and branches.





The first step for the production process is sun-drying.  If sunlight isn't too strong, sunshade nets can be used. The time length of sun-drying depends on tea cultivars, climate and the water content of the fresh leaves. The water content should be reduced to 85%-90% by means of sun-drying.





After sun-drying, the fresh leaves are to be put on the bamboo trays to cool down in preparation for oxidation. 




Locally, oxidation is usually called“Lang Cha". Commonly, there are five times with an interval of two hours.  Each time, the oxidation extent depends on the colors and thickness of the leaves, the level of sun-drying, the temperature and humidity of the environment. The experience and skill of the tea masters play a vital role. It is usually manual work for the first four times of oxidation and machines are used last time in Phoenix Town.




After five times oxidation, the leaves are left on the bamboo trays for one night. In the next early Morning, it is time for firing. 

Leaves before oxidation:



Leaves after oxidation, Green leaves trimmed with red borders:



The temperature for firing is normally between 200-250°C.  The time is about 4 minutes. The temperature should be properly controlled. If too high, the leaves would be burnt. If too low, the color of the leaves would be dull and the end tea would produce turbid tea soup.

The aim of firing is to ruin the activity of enzymes, end oxidation and evaporate water in the leaves by means of high temperature at a weight loss of 20%-30%. At the same time, firing makes the leaves to become soft and it is easy for rolling. After firing, in fact, the essence quality of the Phoenix Oolong has been fixed.



Leaves just coming out of the stove should be stirred in order to give out heat. When leaves become not hot and still warm, it is time for rolling. Rolling lasts about ten minutes with an aim to make leaves tight and neat.




Undo caking:


Sifting:


The first time roasting. Temperature is around 110°C.  About ten minutes.




Undoing caking again, cooling and  second time roasting. The temperature of second time roasting should be slightly lower than the first time roasting. After second time roasting, the preliminarily made tea usually called maocha has been ready.


Maocha(preliminarily made tea) is mixed with yellow old leaves and stems. It is to be hand-selected and third time roasted before it becomes refinement tea(end product).


There are two selecting way, manual work and machine. Manual work can let the tea intact and pure at the cost of low efficiency. Machine is on the contrary. Generally speaking,  manual work is adopted when premium phoenix dancong oolong is selected. 



Now, the end Phoenxi Dancong oolong is ready finally. Just one look on the appearance of the beautiful leaves, i think it is delicious. Don't you think so? :)






Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Secrets of Mengding Huangya (Yellow Buds)-The Rare Chinese Yellow Tea

In a poem Qin and Tea from Baijuyi, a famous poet in Tang Dynasty wrote: with respect to Qin music, the most famous one is Lushui, as for tea, Mengshan is an old friend. Mengding Huangya(Yellow Bud) is from Mengshan(also called Mengding Mountain) of Mingshan County, Sichuan province. Since Tang Dynasty it has been widely known that Mengding tea was as precious as water from Yangzi River. The real Mengding tea has always been precious because Mengding Mountain is usually surrounded by mist and clouds throughout the year. Mengding Mountain is located in the territory of Ya'an City, Sichuan Province, southwest of Sichuan basin. High in the north and low in the south, it is about 10 km long and 4 km wide. Shaped like lotus, Mengding Mountain has five peaks, and Shangqingfeng is the top one with 1456 meters above sea level. Most tea plantations lie about 1200 meters above sea level. Each year around spring equinox when peach trees are in full blossom it is the time for picking tea leaves. 





When it comes to Mengding tea, we’d better mention Mengding Huangya, which is yellow tea. The biggest difference between yellow tea and green tea lies in the piling process. After fixation, it is wrapped with a specialized thick paper, and then undergoes the stack-cover process. As for Mengding Huangya the processing techniques will be comparatively complicated. It can be fully manual and semi-automatic. 

Mengding Huangya is made through the process of fixation, initial wrapping, second-time frying, second-time wrapping, third-time frying, stacking, fourth-time frying, and baking.

The difference of the raw material of fully manual Huangya and semi-automatically-made Huangya is as follows:

As for fully manual Huangya, only single robust bud is plucked as raw material, while for semi-automatically-made Huangya, single bud is picked out among all the plucked fresh leaves.  

Fully manual Huangya need to be fermented three times after manual fixation. Each time tea of about six to seven Liang is wrapped up with bamboo-made coarse paper and fermented for 24 hours at the temperature of around 40 degrees Celsius. The paper should be tasteless and absorptive. During this period, tea makers need to open the bag to check the color and moisture and stir to enable it to heat evenly from time to time. After 24 hours, the tea needs to be scattered, heated, and then wrapped up again with coarse paper to ferment for another 24 hours. For the third 24 hours, the tea needs to be fermented as a whole. After the first fermentation the tea is fresh and fragrant, and for the second time it becomes fragrant and sweet. During this process the experience of tea makers plays a big role.

With respect to semi-automatically-made Huangya, after fixation with machine the three-time wrapping and piling process are finished by hand. It takes 3 to 4 days.   





The techniques of Mengding Huangya making today derive from the tribute tea to the emperor in Qing Dynasty. It was recorded in Minshan County Annals that in a temple some monks were making tribute tea. Firstly they picked out the finest tender bud, and then baked it in a new pot with fire. But the fire was too fierce, and it easily got burned. Therefore they wrapped it up in paper, and then put the package in a hot pot for some time until the tea was half-withered. And later on they began to roll and dry it. After all these procedures some of the tea buds turned dry and yellowish or dark black, and could not become tributes. However, the tea-makers might think it was a pity to throw away those a bit yellow ones which could not become tributes, and hence gradually they were developed into Mengding Huangya nowadays. 

The photos of dried tealeaves, liquor and brewed tealeaves of the semi-automatically-made Mengding Huangya:









Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Difference Between Tie Guan Yin Oolong(Iron Goddess) And Huang Jin Gui Oolong(Golden Osmanthus)

Some of our customers told us it wasn't easy to tell apart Tie Guan Yin Oolong(Iron Goddess) and Huang Jin Gui Oolong(Golden Osmanthus). In fact,  some people who have been in tea business for many years are even confused by them. It is very common that Huang Jin Gui Oolong is sold as Tie Guan Yin intentionally or unintentionally. To be professional, you need to learn about them. Here we will let you know the difference between them.

At first, you should know that Tie Guan Yin Oolong is made of tealeaves harvested from tea cultivar named Tie Guan Yin while Huang Jin Gui is Huang Jin Gui cultivar. The two cultivars both originated from Anxi, Fujian, China. Now, they are widely planted in Anxi as well as other Chinese tea producing areas.  They both rank among the four most famous Anxi Oolong along with Ben Shan and Mao Xie. Tie Guan Yin cultivar belongs to shrub while Huang Jin Gui belongs to small tree(arbor).  Huang Jin Gui usually sprouts in the Mid- April, the cultivar sprouting earliest in Anxi, every year, about 20 days earlier than Tie Guan Yin.  Tie Guan Yin is commonly only used to make oolong tea while Huang Jin Gui is also used to make green tea and black tea except oolong tea.

You can easily find the difference between the fresh tealeaves of Huang Jin Gui and Tie Guan Yin.






The first photo is of Tie Guan Yin and the second is of Huang Jin Gui.  The fresh leaf of Tie Guan Yin is kinda fat with a smooth and even borderline while that of Huang Jin Gui is thinner and longer.

Compare the brewed tealeaves. It is also obvious.







The first two photos are of Tie Guan Yin and the last is of Huang Jin Gui.


 The Core Characteristic:

Tie Guan Yin Oolong (Iron Goddess):  The dried tea is heavy in dark green. The taste is complex and thick. The brewed tealeaves is elastic, fat and bright.

Huang Jin Gui Oolong (Golden Osmanthus):  The dried tea is light in yellowish green. When brewed, it smells like juicy peach or osmanthus flower. The brewed tealeaves are thin and long.

Anyway, the best way is to make comparison tasting for several time. You would know well about them.

Supplement:

A cross was mentioned between a Ti Kuan Yin cultivar and the Huang Jin Gui cultivar in the Linkedin group where the article was discussed. I think it was probably Huang Guan Yin(Gold Kuan Yin). the newest member of Fujian Oolong family, is a cross-bred/hybrid tea varietal developed by the Tea Research Institute, Fujian Academy of Agricultural in 1980s with an attempt to let it have the good qualities of both Tie Guan Yin and Huang Jin Gui. Huang Guan Yin(Yellow Goddess of Mercy) has been widely grown in the Wuyi and Anxi regions since 1990. Now, here i showed more photos of them for your reference: