Thursday, March 29, 2018

Something More About Huangshan Maofeng Tea

Huangshan Maofeng , among “Top Ten Famous Teas” in China, is a green tea which came into being and became famous during Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty(1875-1908).

There are so many kinds of green tea in China. Then what green tea can be called as “Huangshan Maofeng”. A general view is that it should meet the following three points.

First, it should be produced from Huangshan. which we mean here a municipal-level administrative area, including 7 county-level administrative areas: Tunxi Qu, Huangshan Qu, Huizhou Qu, Shexian, Yixian, Xiuning, Qimen. Generally speaking, another two adjacent county-level areas, Wuyuan and Jixi should be also included because they both belonged to Huizhou which existed as as an administrative area equivalent to Huangshan City and doesn’t exist now. Huizhou seen as the old name of Huangshan City was in fact bigger than it and is still studied by scholars because of its cutural and historical significance.

Second, it should be made as a fired or baked green tea with the plucking standards of one bud with 1-3 leaves, generally speaking, harvested before “Gu Yu”(Grain Rain, around 20th April).

Third, it should be made of tealeaves harvested from Huangshan local cultivar named as”Huangshan Qunti Cultivar”. It is a sexual reproduced cultivar with genetic commingling.

Normally, Huangshan Maofeng was graded according to the plucking standards. One bud with one preliminarily extending leaf is considered as the highest grade, followed by one bud with one fully extending leaf, one bud with two leaves and one bud with three leaves. Of course, for tea produced from the same place, higher grade comes into market earlier than the lower grades. Here a precondition must be given because Huangshan is a mountainous area at an altitude between 200-1800meters. Every year, tea trees sprout at low altitude 5-15 days earlier than high altitude so it is possible that tea of low grade from the low altitude area may come into the market earlier than that of high grade from high altitude. One common misconception is that high grade guarantees good taste. In fact, plucking time can affect the quality of tea but it definitely doesn’t play the biggest role. For tea produced from the same place, tea harvested earlier normally gives more delicate taste than later one.

Then, what do we think is the most important factor in forming the unique taste and flavor of Huangshan Maofeng? We think it should be the producing place, exactly speaking, what is the natural village, even what hill or peak it is produced from. A producing place involves several vital parameters including soil, altitude, sunlight, rainfall.

There are more than 1300 natural villages and countless hills and peaks in Huangshan. Huangshan Maofeng producd from different natural villages, hills and peaks differs widely in taste and flavor. It is a challenging task to find out good producing places.

Fuxi, a Township-level administrative area, covering an area about 92.6 Square kilometers, is seen as the birthplace of Huangshan Maofeng.  It is located in the north of Huizhou Qu, adjacent to Shexian on the east, bordering with Tangkou, the Southern Gate of Huangshan Scenic Area on the north, at an average altitude of 800 meters. Fuxi Huangshan Maofeng is outstanding in taste and flavor. That is why it always enjoys the highest premium prices among Huangshan Maofeng produced from all around Huangshan. Around in 1875, Xie Zheng’an, a man of Fuxi set up a tea house and make speciality green tea with improved traditional skills. He insisted using fresh tealeaves of one bud and one leaf. The first batch of tea was sent to Shanghai and made a great success unexpectedly. In the next few years, Huangshan Maofeng became famous not only domestically but also abroad. In Fuxi, a large numbers of tea trees planted from 1875 have been more than 100 years old. They still send forth tender buds and leaves of extraordinarily high quality every year because their long and robust roots deep into the earth can absorb much more sufficient nutrition than young tea trees.

Pre-Ming Fuxi Huangshan Mao Feng

Pre-Ming Huangshan Mao Feng
The Statue Of Xie Zheng'an In Fuxi Township



In Huangshan, a few other places also produce outstanding Huangshan Maofeng although they are not as so famous as Fuxi. Wu Gong Ling is one of them. It is a village belonging to Shexian, covering an area about 1.4 Square kilometers, with a population about 2000 at an average altitude of 800 meters, featuring with terraced tea gardens about 0.82 Square kilometers reclaimed during 1960s and 1970s in high mountains. Wu Gong Ling literally means Centipedes Hill in Chinese. We are unable to figure out why it was given the name now. Wu Gong Long Huangshan Maofeng is also mellow, floral and flowering with good aftertaste.

Wu Gong Ling Huangshan Mao Feng

Wu Gong Ling Huangshan Mao Feng
Wu Gong Ling

Wu Gong Ling

Wu Gong Ling

Wu Gong Ling
We are glad to share with you more information of outstanding Huangshan Maofeng produced from different places in Huangshan in the future. Thank you!

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:


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? :)