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:















Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to decorate a tea room(tea house, tea cafe) in Chinese style?

If you deal with Chinese teas and wish to attract people who are interested in them, it is a good idea to decorate your tea room(tea house, tea cafe) in Chinese style or at least integrate Chinese elements. Here are some hints of how to decorate a tea room(tea house, tea cafe) in Chinese style:

1. Find a Chinese name for your tea room(tea house, tea cafe). If you can find a Chinese 
calligrapher to write the Chinese characters of the name on a piece of paper and make it mounted and framed and then hung on the wall, that would be fabulous.

2. Various kinds of Chinese gongfu tea wares are necessary including gaiwans, gongdao mugs, samples tea cups, tea trays and filters. It is excellent to exhibit various  tea pots, tea cups and tea accessories in display cases.

3. Hang Chinese calligraphy and paintings on the walls. And Chinese paper-cutting artwork and Chinese traditional Knots can be also used to decorate the walls.

4. Place potted landscape, plants and rockery. The first choices are always Plum Blossom, Orchid, Bamboo and Chrysanthemum because they collectively known as “Four Nobles of Flowers”in China, symbolize nobility and virtues in human beings. They are often the central theme or motif for Chinese poetry and paintings.

5. Statues of Chinese tea sage Luyu or carvings of Buddhas can also enhance the Chinese
style of your tea room(tea house, or tea cafe).

6. If you can find furniture of Chinese traditional style, that would be great! If you really can't, make sure that the furniture matches well with the Chinese elements. If you aren't sure about it, consult with an interior designer.

Here are the photos we selected. We wish they would help you if you wish to decorate a tea room(tea house, tea cafe) in Chinese style.




















Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Story About Mansong Pu Erh Of Yibang Tea Mountain (2)

Mansong Pu Erh tea absorbs the essence of the heaven and earth. Spring buds with small leave, really don’t look like the larger leave species, however, it has mild and delicate taste, long-lasting tea flavor. The green tea leaves in the clay pots sometimes are dancing and sometimes are quite and stand still like a leave in the deep pond. Every vegetation has its soul. I’m wondering that, was the tea leaves poetic lady falling into the earth or a wealthy and gifted gentleman wondering about all corners of the country. After all, it’s extraordinary. 
In the history, a catastrophe once happened in the Prince Mountain. In order to escape the killing of the rulers of the Qing Dynasty, a 16-year-old prince of Nanming family (Nanming is a regime founded in the Southern China by the members of the royal family and dignitaries of the Ming Dynasty escaped from Beijing) went and seek refuge from the grandchild of the king of tribute tea with the help of his servants. The grandchild of the king of tribute tea withdrew from society and lived in solitude to protect the boy. Afterwards, the grandchild of the king of tribute tea buried the prince of the Nanming regime. Then, this mountain was called as the Prince Mountain. The horizontal inscribed board with “Rui Gong Tian Chao” was burnt down before the death of the grandchild of the king of tribute tea. The glory of Mansong pu erh tea disappeared with the predestined relationship between the emperor and his officials. The ruin of Yibang was caused by a conflict between ethnic minorities. People of Youle Mountain revolted and attacked Yibang. Yibang was being burnt down after a fire lasting for about three days and nights, left nothing in ancient town built for hundreds of years.  
Tea farmers of Yibang couldn’t be traced any more. In Late Qing Dynasty, tea farmers should present 5,000 Kg tea to royal court and 10,000 Kg tea to officials with all kinds of level, which was a heavy burden to the farmers. The farmers of the Prince Mountain within an area 25 Km in circumference cannot bear the burden, therefore, they cut down the tea trees and escaped, and never returned to Mansong. The local tea farmers have left Mansong however the migrants who later came from Shiping and  Sichuan  were not good at tea-planting, thus, the annual output of no more than 100 Kg pu erh tea is taken as the legacy of Mansong tribute tea. 
There are 8 pair of leaf vain in every piece of  mature Mansong tea leaves, a kind of standard middle leaf tea species. Why is the Puer tea made from large leaf species not better than Mansong pu erh tea? I doubt it’s due to the mild nature of Mansong pu erh tea, that is, fairness and peace. The light yellow tea infusion is extremely beautiful. It tastes mellow without bitterness and astringency. Its aftertaste is sweet accompanying with aroma. There will be no regret leaving for you. Mansong pu erh tea really like Confucians, perfect showing the inner spirit of the doctrine of induced positive.


The top of the Prince Mountain


The tomb of the legendary prince of the Nanming regime


The local minority


An ancient pu erh tea tree


The End

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Story About Mansong Pu Erh Of Yibang Tea Mountain (1)

During Chenghua Years of Ming Dynasty, an unnamable local official selected the famous tea of “Six Big Tea Mountains” in order to get promoted. At last, he chose the  Pu Erh Tea produced at Mansong of Yibang Mountain due to its preferable favor and its magical upright spirit after being immersed into the hot water. He purchased a batch of this magical tea and divided into two portions: one was presented to the bigwig in the royal court, one was to the Xianzong Emperor by the bigwig. Xianzong Emperor spoke highly of this Mansong tea and appointed it as the tribute tea for the royal court.   

Yibang Tea Mountain became famous since then and Mansong Village became widely known as the “5,000 KG Tribute tea per year”. Qing Government built a bridleway from Kunming, Puer to Yibang and Yiwu Tea Mountain in 1845. Deep and shallow horseshoes imprinted in the bridleway can still be seen. Although the bridleway is now overgrown with weeds, it can still reflect the glory at that time. Some remarkable people and wonders have been passed down, contributing the mystery to the tribute Pu Erh Tea.

Mansong trubute tea in Ming Dynasty couldn’t meet the demand of royal court. In order to nearby manage the tea industry, Family Ye, one local Yibang people, was appointed as the official to be in charge of the production of Mansong tribute tea. Family Ye then ordered Family Li, one Mansong people, to be responsible for this job. Through years of hard work, Family Li developed the tea field to a large scale. The fined tribute tea was presented to the court. Xianzong Emperor was obsessed with tea. He was excited about this tea and wrote “The King Of Tribute Tea” for Family Li and awarded Li a horizontal board inscribed with four Chinese characters “瑞贡天朝” (Rui Gong Tian Chao). It’s rare for an emperor giving a plaque to a tea producer, while it’s rarer that eight pack mules died when they bore the plaque from the capital to Mansong. 
It’s for certain the Yibang Tea Mountain enjoyed the popularity for a time. The tea garden was defined as the royal tea garden during the late Qing Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty. When tea-leaves being picked, all the businessmen were forbidden to the mountain. And Monsong people were ordered to harvest tea-leaves. Royal tea-leaves were divided into bud tea, Theopsis and her tea. There were three tea-picking places: Wangzishan Mountain (Wangzi literally means Prince), Mansongshan Mountain and Beiyingshan Mountain, all belonging to the same mountain chain, among which the highest was Wangzishan Mountain (Prince Mountain), followed by Mansongshan Mountaian and then Beiyingshan Mountain. 



A overlook of the Prince Mountain, the highest one among Yibang Mountains


Climbing up the Prince Mountain


The Prince Mountain


The Prince Mountain


The top of the Prince Mountain


The tree covered in blossom

To Be Continued