Popular Post abcdefg Posted March 27, 2019 at 06:59 AM Popular Post Report Share Posted March 27, 2019 at 06:59 AM This lovely stuff has been trickling onto the shelves since the middle of March. This year's crop is especially fine because it was a dry but not bitterly cold winter. In Yunnan, that makes for topnotch tea and lovers of fresh green tea have been eagerly awaiting it here in Kunming. Let me take you on a short tour to buy some. Then you can read about brewing it at home in this companion article: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58173-and-heres-how-it-brews-yunnan-spring-tea-2019/ . First score was a few days ago at a retail store not far from home where I often stop for a cup and occasionally buy. The new stuff is usually marked something like this, not difficult to notice or to decipher: (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) You will usually find two main types of early spring tea, as pictured here. The one on the left with the pink sign (早春绿茶 = early spring green tea) has leaves which are fluffy and open, sometimes called 毛峰 maofeng. The tea on the right, behind the orange sign saying "manager's recommendation" 店长推荐 has been rolled into balls and is sometimes called 碧螺春, which means "green snails of spring." Here are closeups of those two common types of early spring tea, before we go any farther. The unrolled tea on the left, and the rolled tea on the right. Both are delicious, but have differences. In the case of these two, the "open" maofeng 毛峰 was milder 清淡一点 than the rolled biluochun 碧螺春。That doesn't always hold true. Ask the seller to guide you. The boss's assistant brewed me some of the open leaf tea first, since it was supposed to be milder. Wanted to progress in my tasting from mild 淡 to stronger 浓一点。She first warmed the glass with boiling hot water and let it thoroughly heat. Poured out that water. Put enough tea into the bottom of a clear drinking glass (180 to 200 ml is suggested) and shook it around so it could heat and begin releasing some aroma. Passed me the glass so I could have a whiff. Very aromatic, floral and slightly grassy. Then she slow-poured hot water in a high stream into the tea to wake it up gently and not kill the flavor by scalding it. Swirled it around and gave the leaves time to expand. Poured it into a small pitcher 公道杯 through a strainer 滤网。From there into my small drinking cup 品茗杯，which only held enough brewed tea for two or three mouthfuls. The idea behind this is to not let the tea get tepid or cool like it might if she poured me a mug. The tea leaves greened up as she worked. I was asking questions she couldn't answer and the boss soon came over to help me himself. We progressed to one of his better biluochun teas, a little more expensive than the one on display in the big bin. It was also an early spring harvest, and from Youleshan 攸乐山 in Xishuangbanna Prefecture 西双版纳州。That is one of Yunnan's traditional six famous tea mountains, located deep down in the province between the Mekong River 澜沧江 and Laos 老挝。 Here's what I wound up with. Very tasty stuff. I'll show you how to brew it once I get back home. But for now, the adventure continues since I wanted to explore more exotic offerings in the wholesale tea market. Rode the Number 25 bus about 20 minutes to get to one of my favorite places in Kunming. I will use any excuse to go there and just poke around. All the shopkeepers welcome you in to taste their wares. It's easy to spend half a day giving your kidneys an Olympic workout. Kunming has several wholesale tea markets, but this one is easiest for me to reach and has become my favorite. It's the Xiongda Tea City 雄达茶城, located north of center in the 金买小区 Jinmai Quarter. About a thousand tea stores on the north side of the street, spanning two blocks, and slightly less on the other side of the road. Several ornate entrances, like this one. My strategy is to dive in pretty deep, getting away from the shops on the main road. Rent is higher out front, as are prices. I looked for the signs advertising spring tea, just like we saw earlier. Go in and ask the shopkeeper about his or her wares. An invitation to sample usually follows. There's never an obligation to buy and I don't think I've ever felt pressured. All these shops also sell cakes of Pu'er tea 普洱茶, in fact it's far and away their main draw. Today, however, I was intent on finding spring tea and didn't want to lose focus. Tried several of them at several different shops, always following the same basic procedure. Made sure to do plenty of smelling as well as drinking. Sample several steeps to see how the flavor develops. Swirl it around well in the mouth so it gets to reach all your taste buds. Pay attention to the after-taste 后感。Always look at a few of the leaves after the tea had been brewed. Leaf appearance and structure can be very revealing. The tea above left opened up very evenly after being brewed, showing what this merchant called “两呀，没有叶”。She was putting a spin on the truth, since actually this complex is one bud and one very small leaf. I didn't argue, just nodded. Tea of this type has a very subtle flavor. Above right is a picture of one of the "double shoot" teas beside a more standard configuration consisting of one bud and two small leaves. That tea, the darker one with two leaves and one bud, turned out to be one of my favorites and I bought a small bag of it, 100 grams. It was rich and full of the mountains from which it came, deep in a different part of 'Banna. (Pasha Village 帕莎村 in Menghai County 勐海县)。It was from old trees with deep roots 古树 over 200 years old. Those leaves were too large to brew well in a glass, and she used a gaiwan 盖碗 instead. I'll tell you more about it later. Don't want to get off track. Wound around a bit more, back in the bowels of the place, passing lots of signs offering spring tea. Shops are arranged on a maze of narrow lanes, barely wide enough to allow for a single small car. Customers cannot drive in, but a guard admitted vehicles belonging to the merchants or staff. Eventually had my limit of tea, so I wandered upstairs to look at teaware 茶具。Such a lot of beautiful pieces!. Dangerous; any pretensions I may have had towards a minimalist lifestyle are quickly out the window. This time I escaped with only a couple of small items. Some stores are basic and small; others are large, artistic and lavish. Finished up, trekked back down the stairs and onto the street. Caught the same bus back home. It had been a fruitful expedition. Here's a parting look at the 雄达 Tea City from the inside. In a few minutes, I'll show you how this new tea brewed up. (Don't want this post to get too long.) ---------------- Add: Here's a link to the thread about brewing it: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58173-and-heres-how-it-brews-yunnan-spring-tea-2019/?tab=comments#comment-451545 8 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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