July 14, 2016

Tea Cupping - Three Chinese Spring 2016 Green Teas from TeaVivre

Green teas account for more than 70% of tea production in China according to the authors of Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties. Given this statistic it makes sense that the majority of China's 10 famous teas are green teas. The actual number ranges from four to six out of 10. Also, the teas on these top 10 lists are inconsistent. However, Long Jing always makes the list and is usually listed first. Lucky for me, I received Long Jing from Teavivre as well as two other of their spring green teas, Tian Mu Yu and Lu Shan Yun Wu.

I prepared the teas tandem style but I did not have identical tea vessels. I need three identical gaiwans! The Long Jing and Tian Mu Yun Wu were infused in two different professional cupping sets (4 oz/120mL; 5 oz/150 mL). The  Lu Shan Yun Wu was steeped in a 5 oz (150 mL) gaiwan. I used 2 g of each tea, 4 oz of 175F water, with a steep time of 3 minutes. My notes today are from the first cupping of each of the teas. Don't worry, I did not discard the leaves after one cupping.

Long Jing - Premium 
Xihu, Hangzhou, Zhejiang
The brewing guide for this tea called for 185F water for 1-5 minutes but see my infusion protocol above. The dry leaves smelled sweet and of hay. They were 1" in length, flat, and in various shades of light green. The infused leaves smelled grassy. I could identify two leaves and bud. The liquor was slightly bitter. I don't think a Long Jing should be bitter but it was not unpleasant. The bitterness could be a misidentified vegetal flavor. I also detected astringency but this is common for Long Jing. The color of the tea was a light yellow green. The liquor was shiny and transparent. The various notes lingered on my tongue.

Tian Mu Yun Wu - Organic
Tianmu Mountain, Lin’an County, Hangzhou City, Zhejiang
The brewing guide for this tea called for 185F water for 5-8 minutes but see my infusion protocol above. The dry leaves were sweet and vegetal. Each twisted, wiry, dark green leaf was approximately 1". The infused leaf released vegetal smells and were emerald green and quite long. The liquor tasted vegetal, steamed asparagus came to mind, but also sweet. I was reminded of dried seaweed, too. The light green liquor was dry and had a cooling effect.

Lu Shan Yun Wu
Lushan, Jiangxi
The brewing guide for this tea called for 176F water for 3-5 minutes but see my infusion protocol above. The dry leaves were sweet and nutty. I really like this combination. The leaves are small, curly, and dark green. The infused leaves are emerald green and smell slightly roasted. The leaf stems were noticeable at this stage. The liquor also had a roasted taste. In addition, it was dry, vegetal, and sweet. So much here to like. The tea was a light green; I expected a more intense color given all these flavors emerging from this tea. The mouthfeel was round and the flavors lingered. I steeped the leaves two more times, each for 30 seconds. The second short infusion produced nutty and vegetal notes. What I was expected was the mineral note that emerged in the first short infusion.

The Lu Shan Yun Wu was neither premium nor organic but it is my favorite of these three spring teas. Did you know that Lushan is a mountain range set among clouds and mist (or yunwu)? Do you have any favorite green teas this spring?

Teas courtesy of Teavivre. You can view all their Spring 2016 teas here.

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