Skip to comments.The Art of Chinese Tea: Flavor, Color and Scent Are Key to Enjoyment
Posted on 07/28/2011 7:35:33 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Nowadays, many people are able to enjoy Chinese tea such as oolong and pu'er thanks to its availability in bottles or cans. By making the tea yourself, however, tea time can be a wonderful experience as you can better understand and appreciate the scent and rich taste of the tea.
According to Chinese tea expert Naoko Iwasaki, there are more than 1,000 kinds of Chinese tea, either from China or Taiwan. Iwasaki said Chinese tea is divided into six groups, including green, white and black, and is categorized by the level of fermentation, processing, the color of the leaves and other factors. Although the most common tea in China is green tea, the way it is prepared and enjoyed is different from that in Japan.
Iwasaki, a tea arts master certified by the Chinese government, has run CHAZENsodo, a salon to share the enjoyment of Chinese tea, in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, since 2004. She also is the director of the Japan Chinese Tea Culture Association.
For beginners she recommends Chinese oolong tea, the most well-known among blue teas with moderately fermented leaves. "Taiwan oolong tea, in particular, is aromatic and doesn't have any surprises," Iwasaki said. She said uniformly shaped dark green leaves are characteristic of good tea.
The joy of Chinese tea is found not only in the flavor but also in the scent and color. In the making of authentic Chinese tea, small, purpose-built tea cups and pots are used. "With them, you can completely enjoy the scents and flavors. Tea can also be prepared in ordinary, small teapots and sake cups," Iwasaki said.
In the art of making tea, the teapot and cups are first warmed by pouring hot water in them.
(Excerpt) Read more at yomiuri.co.jp ...
chinese tea ping!
Don’t forget the plasticizers and heavy metal contamination.
No plasticizers and no heavy metal contamination on the high mountains required for good Chinese tea. The Chinese take their tea growing very seriously and the mountains are full of what is called boutique tea plantations. These are privately held pieces of tea land where the owner takes complete control of the tea plants and the process of tea making. This insures the best prices for his teas.
A tea “expert” (of which, I am NOT) and buyer, can smell a pesticide or any other contamination in a heart beat. This is not Lipton tea. Much of the green tea produced in China never leaves the area of its growth. I have had the opportunity to buy many of these local teas and . . . when one does this, one will never drink Lipton again.
The South Americans have some good ideas about teas as well. Though coffee is a favorite, ‘yerba mate’ is the big drink, and seen as just as essential as is coffee in North America. It is consumed through a metal straw with a sieve on the end, called a bomba, or bombilla.
One of their ideas that is a good idea for about any tea is that they put the dry tea in the cup first, and mix it with a little water, to moisten it. Then they add the hot water. It tends to bring out the flavor much better than just adding the tea to hot water. If the tea tends to float, a bombilla is just the ticket, except that it conducts heat quite well, and can burn the lips if the water is too hot.
If you want teas for their medicinal value, you shouldn’t add either sugar or milk to them, as it can neutralize many of the benefits.
I had Lipton for the first time in a few years last weekend. It was pretty yuck. I drink a lot of tea.
Enjoyed a tisane this evening brewed from my own peppermint. Not quite tea, but nice in the evening.
White tea is amazing.
Fantastic, a tea drinker! Spent three years living and teaching at the base of one of the premier green tea mountains in all of China (Mount Emei in Sichuan Province). I drink a lot of tea (read about tisane but never tried any) that we purchased from the tea plantations. The author of the article was wrong as there are in excess of 4000 different brands of tea all across the tea growing southern part of China. Every place with a mountain has its own tea. It is fun to try it and visit with these tea growers.
Travel to China on a tea trip before the Chinese economy goes into self-destruction mode.
#1 son got me a glass teapot for Christmas; LOVE it! I bought some “Flowering Teas”, but haven’t yet gotten around to making them. I usually just brew up a pot of Black Chai and enjoy.
What is the altitude and climate of the tea plantations? I have two camellia plants that I would like to pick for making my own tea. The deer have made it difficult, but the plants are getting a little head start this year.
I wish I knew to help you out but I’m clueless. We have a Chinese exchange student here this summer and she brought us wonderful tea as a gift.
I have several kinds of very special teas, that I prepare on special occasions. My favorite is "gunpowder" green, which is beyond description. My mother was very proper, and tea was a very special thing she taught us to prepare and drink. Loose tea is essential.
I try to drink green tea in the morning but have to be careful as sometimes it upsets my stomach. Ahhh, but what snobs we are because we found that “special” teas are really special. I always thought Lipton was the tea that everyone was drinking. Haven’t had any in years (as I turn up my nose :-).
I had heard and read of this “gunpowder green” tea and spent some time looking for it without too much luck as I collected various samples of green to drink. Suddenly, I discovered that what Westerners called “gunpowder” the Chinese call “zhu.” I had lots of this kind of tea from several different locations and did not even know it. Mmmmm, I think I will fix some that I bought from the Wawu Mountain area when we visited the mountain. Hundreds and hundreds of different kinds of this gunpowder tea.
You are probably drinking the gunpowder from Guangdong Province vicinity as it is supposed to be the best loved by Westerners. Ever try any puerh?
The best teas come from high altitudes but there are lots of tea plants being grown at the base of these mountains. The tea will not be as sweet as the high mountain teas and it depends a lot on the ground where they are grown. The taste of tea comes from the nutrients in the ground and how it is processed.
Don’t expect to just pick the leaves and stick them in boiling water as you will be greatly disappointed. Tea masters are the ones who process the tea and it takes decades to learn to do it right for each style.
I went to a “show tea plantation” in Emei City with one of my freshman classes. We learned what leaves to pick and how to pick them. Twenty four students and a teacher picking tea for about three hours did not produce enough for the tea master to process so I took all the tea home. I researched how to do it as best I could understand and then my wife cooked the tea using the directions I gave her. We were trying to do the Longjing style with each leaf very flat and not rolled. Had to hand turn them, let them cool and then do it again over a stove in a wok. She did it seven times.
I did a tea tasting with some of my fellow teachers and . . . well, the word we used to describe the tea was fresh. Nothing else but fresh and I think we were being very forgiving.
Do some research on the processing of tea in China and I think you will understand. Lipton teas come from Sri Lanka and India mostly and they are processed through huge machines tons at a time. The leaves have to be broken to release the enzymes and then cooked in the various methods. This is why Chinese teas are so special because they are all mostly done by hand using techniques thousands of years old. Not easy but certainly fun to try.
Good luck on your mini tea plantation!
Interesting how cultures tend to be similar. Chinese tea, the Chinese way, is done the same way with the cups and a pot preheated with hot water. The tea is then placed in the pot and a little boiling water is then poured over the tea and then poured out.
Check out this Chinese ceremony on YouTube if you get a chance. The Japanese tea ceremony does the same but with ridiculous rigid steps. Beautiful to watch but . . . the Chinese do it for the tea, the Japanese for the ceremony. Tea is a whole world unto itself.
I do however like Oolong tea
Thank you for the information. It’s a little disheartening..25 people picked and not enough to process!
But, I’m determined to beat the deer. I’ll do some research and homework and see what will happen.
More like a social club gathering than a true tea picking. We would all have been fired if it had been for real. The cute little guide went around and made sure everyone understood what leaves to pick. It takes a lot of leaves to get a few ounces. Made me appreciate the tea pickers that work really fast all day long.
Again, good luck on the tea.
Top three leaves...right!
I was in Taiwan on a project working on a mountain road to a scared national park in the mountains. (Something about the sunrise!?)
Hard work, hot, and my local “guide” during the day said we would take a tea break. Being a gung-ho American I didn’t want too - but she insisted.
It was great! Taking a break while the tea was being prepared, chatting, learning about the process. For some reason it was just a real nice way to relax. I suppose because the process is simple, but takes a bit of time.
I bought a local tea set with the proper pot (clay?) and cups and some of the tea shop’s local family grown tea. Had great intentions of getting my family into a new tradition.
But who the heck has time for new traditions!?
Oh well - it was very special though to go to the tea house for an afternoon tea.
Depends on what one wants as the final product. We were just picking the bud with one leaf. Different leaves for different teas. Emei Mountain had developed (since 1965) a tea called Zhu Ye Qing or Bamboo Leaf. The leaves (single medium) were rolled into the shape of bamboo leaves. When one placed them in a tall glass and poured hot water over them they would float and when filled with water would gently fall to the bottom. This is a top grade green tea that cost a lot of money. It is now being marketed in most of the big cities in China. We were surprised to find a Zhu Ye Qing store in ChongQing, Guiyang and just about every major city we visited.
A guy in a bookstore in Chengdu whispered in our ears (when he found out we were living at Mount Emei) that the locals drank a tea called bian cha that was as good or better than the heavily marketed Zhu Ye Qing. We bought some from a street vendor and that is what we ended up drinking most of the time. It was one tenth the price of the Zhu Ye Qing.
I started a tea blog while in China and occasionally have done a few blogs with it in Thailand.
My other blogs about living at the foot of Mount Emei can be found at the above tea blog. Hope to get back into blogging tea as I have a huge amount I have to drink.
Please forgive my delay in reply--computer problems for a few days.
The gunpowder I have is "Temple of Heaven" Handrolled Green Tea from Numi Tea. I haven't found if it is Puerh on the container. Just looking at the box makes my mouth water!
Go, HETTY!! (Love Linda Hunt!)
I went to the Numi website. Their gunpowder tea comes from Hubei Province near Chongqing and is processed by the Tujia minority people living in the mountains there. I had a Tujia student from there when I taught in Sichuan province. They have all been assimilated by the Han and they have never had a problem with the Han Chinese. In fact, the Han Chinese like them very much and have been encouraging them to study their culture to try to revive it.
Looks like this tea is very special! Probably not cheap either.
Do a Google search on Puerh tea. It is a black tea that may be the most beneficial to drink. Totally different kind of tea that most Westerners have never heard of. It usually comes in pressed “cakes” and aged, sometimes for twenty or thirty years before it is ready to drink. Very unusual taste.
Would love to share some of your tea with you on a cool evening (here in Thailand there is no such thing as cool evenings and everyone drinks iced tea).
It's interesting that you should mention this. About 30 years ago, I bought a 1 kilo brick of Chinese black tea at a little "health-food" store in Valdez, Alaska. I still have it, have kept it intact all these years. It is embossed on one side with a lot of Chinese script and the standard Maoist stars, and on the other with markings to divide it into smaller bricks, that look like they would weigh 2 or 3 ounces each. I have no way to know if it is Puerh.
Wow! You really do need to go research your tea brick. Thirty years ago! Probably it is a puerh but the Chinese also did Tibetan black tea that way as well so it could be transported easily.
Please Google puerh and put in something like 30 year old or even the year you bought it. If it is a puerh and good quality it is worth a small fortune! Send me to the page you find your tea on.
Forget about the gunpowder green tea I lusted after, would prefer a taste of your brick tea if it be puerh :-)!
LOL! My goodness! I never thought of any of this. I kept it intact because it was so interesting, and have always kept it wrapped more-or-less tightly to keep it from deteriorating. I will research it and keep you apprised. Thank you for the information. But I still love my sublime Temple of Heaven (so far...). I also love oolong and Ceylon.
Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!Taste it! Taste it! Taste it! Taste it!
Delighted to see this thread!
On my first visit to China, in 1984, I was immersed in the Chinese culture, the food, the language — name it. I was so excited to step on Chinese soil and my first day there I remember alot of ‘firsts’. One being the tea. My first cup of tea in China was ——— from a Lipton tea bag! LOLOL!
I am partial to two teas — the aforementioned Gunpowder, and Tie Guan Yin — Goddess of Mercy. It is an oolong tea and very pleasant.
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