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Chinese Green Tea Varieties


Chinese green tea is a type of un-oxidized leaf tea that is named after its green colour. Indeed, green tea is the most widely drunk tea in China and is increasingly making its mark throughout the world. However, the history of green tea dates back as far as the 8th Century, when it was discovered that by steaming the leaves the green colour of the leaves remained and oxidation failed to occur. 

 

Roll forward four centuries to the 12th century and a new way of fixing’ the leaves was discovered by frying them. These methods of processing the leaves resulted in the unique taste that we associate with Chinese green tea today. Obviously, production methods have moved on significantly since – helping to improve and enhance the flavour of this increasingly in-demand brew.

 

There are a huge number of different types of Chinese green tea. Some of the most popular varieties include: Long Jing, Dongting Biluochun, Huangshan Mao Feng, Lushan Yunwu, Liu’an Gua Pian, Lo Chu Ch’a (Gunpowder Tea) and Xinyang Maoijan. While there are many different types of green tea, you’d be wrong to assume that they all look and taste the same.


The Types of Chinese Green Tea

 

Long Jing (Dragon Well Tea)


long jing


It is lauded as being the tastiest and most renowned type of Chinese green tea. Long Jing has a smooth, flat appearance – even when it’s been dried – and has a very sweet taste and absolutely no hint of bitterness – something that can afflict other varieties of green tea. It has very high level of antioxidants, which many believe are vital in battling cancer. It’s also high in vitamin c, fluoride and calcium, so can help with healthy bones and teeth. The Chinese also believe it has great anti-aging properties and helps lift your mood.

 

Huangshan Mao Feng


huang shan maofeng


Huang Shan Mao Feng also resides on the most famous teas in China list and is produced in the Anhui province in the southeast of China. The tea’s English name is Yellow Mountain Fur Peak’ - it was named thus by locals because it’s leaves are covered in a white fur and the leaves look like little mountain peaks when they’re dry. The tea is picked early in the spring and only the new buds and the leaf next to it are picked to use. Local farmers say they tea buds look very similar to orchid buds. Its flavour has been described as clean and needle-like’.

 

Lushan Yunwu Tea


Yun Wu Tea


This kind of tea is grown in the Lushan Mountains that’s located in the Jiangxi Province. The leaf picking is very tightly controlled – only the bud and the one or two leaves next to it are harvested. Once picked, the leaves form into curled, tight strips. The tea is a very vivid green when it’s been brewed and has a sharp smell, with a lingering scent of roasted chestnuts – making it almost Christmassy. The tea has a sweet taste and is usually brewed in a tall glass. Once you’ve had several brews, the leaves unfurl to reveal a soft, yellow color.


Gunpowder Tea (Lo Chu Ch’a)


gunpowder green tea


This tea is perhaps one of the best-known types of Chinese green tea. When it’s picked, each leaf is formed into a small, round pellet, that looks like grains of gunpowder. The process is quite involved – the leaves need to be withered, steamed, rolled into pellets and then dried. When you buy this tea, it is important to note the colour – the pellets need to be shiny, because then you’ll know its fresh. Big pellets are less valuable too.

 

Xinyang Maoijan


mao jian


The last tea we’re going to explore is Xinyang Maoijan. It’s also in the top ten and is produced in Xinyang County. Its leaves are much darker than other green teas and its flavour is very strong. The Chinese love to drink it after work and during the hottest weather - it’s seen as a great thirst quencher and helps them relax.

 

Liu’an Gua Pian


liu an gua pian


It is known as Melon Seed tea and comes from Liu’an City, in the Anhui province. It’s a hugely famous tea and appears in all the top Chinese tea lists. The name comes from the shape that the processed leaves take on – they are oval and look like melon seeds. This tea is harvested in a slightly different way – this doesn’t use the new bud, but rather the second  leaf is harvested. It's a laborious process, because the central vein of every leaf needs to be removed and are then fried in pans and shaped to prevent the oxidization process form occuring.

 

Dongting Bi Luo Chun


bi luo chun


This is in the top ten best Chinese teas – second only to Long Jing. History suggests that this tea was created in the Ling Yuan Temple of the Bi Lou peak. Emperor Qing named it after the peak where it was discovered – he also declared it an imperial tea. It is known for it’s beautiful fragrance. When dried, the leaves have a delicate, slightly curly appearance and are covered in the finest white down. When the tea has been brewed, the liquor is bright yellow. It has a flowery, yet nutty taste – but beware, the first brew is the strongest, leaving a long aftertaste.


Green Tea Making Process


Naturally, each type of green tea is processed in a slightly different way – however, there are some general things each type of Chinese green tea needs to go through. The most traditional method of processing the leaves is to wither them, followed by rolling them and then drying them in the sun for a couple of hours – usually on bamboo racks – before heating the leaves to prevent oxidization and keep them fresh.

 

What is the Best Green Tea & Brewing Tips


green tea brewing


It’s possible that Long Jing is the best Chinese green tea. In order to prepare the perfect brew, boil your water and then allow it to cool for a while till it’s around 80 degrees centigrade of 176F. In the meantime, fill your tea glass with hot water and leave it for a couple of minutes to warm the glass. Tip it out and cover the bottom with a shallow layer of the tea leaves. Add a little hot water and swill it around gently to ensure all the leaves are wet and then fill the glass 90% full – pop your lid on – it’s best to use a traditional gaiwan – Chinese tea glass – for this. Leave it to brew for a few minutes. It tends to be ready when most of the leaves have moved to the bottom of the glass.


Now, just relax and enjoy your tea.

 

 

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