Popular Post abcdefg Posted March 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM Popular Post Report Share Posted March 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM Here's a look at how this fresh tea brews up. (This article is a companion to one about shopping for spring tea. You can read that one here: https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58172-hello-spring-tea-2019-早春茶/?tab=comments#comment-451546 .) It's the biluochun 碧螺春茶 from Youleshan Mountain 攸乐山 in deep south Xishuangbanna 西双版欸州。A two hundred-gram bag of it cost me 25 Yuan and will probably last me until the end of the year. This is plenty beaucoup cups of good tea. It's even enough that I can give a little to a good friend or two as well so they can try it at home themselves. (Please click the photos to enlarge them.) Biluochun 碧螺春 is the one below left, rolled into tidy little pearls. It's the one we will be using today. An open leaf maofeng 毛峰 from last year is shown below right for comparison. If you want one insider tip before surfing away to take care of other more pressing matters, it's this: Use a glass to brew these light green spring teas 早春绿茶。You get to enjoy the visual treat of the process along with the aroma and taste. Using that heavy old crockery teapot you inherited from Aunt Martha, the one with the tacky flowers, would be a crime against nature. You could get away with a gaiwan 盖碗 but a plain, clear glass of 180 to 200 ml capacity is the choice of the pros. Try it at least once and you'll see what a difference it makes. Fill the glass about half full with boiling water. Let it stand half a minute or so to allow the glass to get hot. Pour out that water. Drop the tea leaves into the glass and shake them around well. Smell the aroma; let the aroma sink in. Drinking tea is about pleasing the eye and the nose as well as the mouth. How much tea should I use? People who do this all day just drop it in by eye. I generally use enough to loosely cover the bottom of the glass, as shown above right. If you have a small scale, start with 5 grams the first time. Depending on factors having to do with how your tea was produced, you might need to use 4 grams or 6. Adjust it to taste after that first time. Either pour in hot water in a high, thin stream or put it into a small pitcher as a first step before adding it to the dry tea leaves. This lets it cool off a little. Water which is too hot will "kill" this delicate green tea and demolish its flavor. If in doubt, err on the side of less hot instead of too hot. Don't fill the glass completely full; that makes it difficult to handle without burning your fingers. Leave the top quarter or third empty. If your tap water is funky or full of chemicals, use some from a bottle. The tea masters say that "the leaves are father of the finished cup of tea, but water is the mother." Let the tea leave steep undisturbed until most of them fall to the bottom of the glass and you can see them expand. That takes less than a minute. It won't really hurt if you want to swirl the glass gently while reciting a Tang Dynasty poem. Just don't stir it madly with a spoon. It's also not a big deal if you can't wait and drink it a little too soon. It won't be the end of the world. The second brewing and the third will probably be better than the first one. These leaves are good for maybe 4 or 5 steeps before they become weak and insipid. Discard them and start over if you and your guests are still in a tea drinking mood. Pour it through a strainer 落网 into a small pitcher or beaker 公道杯 gongdaobei。You have warmed this ahead of time with plain hot water. Decant it straight away into your small drinking cup 品茗杯 and that of your guests. I'm sure you have pre-wamed these as well. Do lots of sniffing along the way. Be sure to smell the glass after you have poured off the tea. Smell the gongdaobei once it is emptied. Pass them around. This is my setup, above. It's a simple one but fine for two, three or even four people. A larger tea tray 茶盘 would be better for more. Even this small one has a drain hole where you attach a rubber hose to lead the spilled liquids away into a plastic discard pail on the floor. It's time now to play with the leaves. You don't need to be psychic. Spread some out on a plate and have a close look. The pickers just snap off the last little bit of new growth on the tea plant, usually one bud 一芽 and one or two leaves 两叶。They work fast but carefully, often getting their start in early morning just after a quick breakfast of porridge 稀饭/粥 with a fried egg on top. The work is made tough because in these far south Yunnan tea hills, pickers must stand on an incline all day, working their way through the bushes and small tea trees, most of them a little bit over head high. These aren't flat, well-groomed plantation fields like you see in the postcards. Notice that some of the leaves are darker than others. This is an indication that this tea has been processed by hand instead of by some computerized machine. The leaves have been hand-fried in a large hot wok that is set over a wood fire. This "kills the green" 杀青 and keeps the tea leaves from .oxidizing and turning brown. They are then roughly rubbed and rolled against an irregular pan in such a way as to break up inner cellular partitions a bit, releasing flavors that would not come to the fore if the leaves were left completely intact. These and the other steps involved in making this tea require experience and good judgment. It's an art. This light spring Yunnan biluochun tea 碧螺春 and its cousins will keep its charm pretty well for a year if stored away from direct sunlight. Put it into a cupboard where it isn't too hot. It doesn't actually "go bad" after a year in terms of becoming unsafe to drink; it just looses it's zip and becomes boring. Don't put it in the fridge. That doesn't work because as the refrigerator cycles, the tea gets damp and becomes musty, develops off flavors. If you can store it in a crockery jar or one made of clay, that's perfect. Best not to keep in the the plastic bag that came from the store. You can enjoy this tea art if you get on the next plane to Yunnan. Well, actually ladies and gentlemen, you can order some from your favorite purveyor by mail. Might not be quite as fresh as mine, but I'll bet it will still be real good. Refreshing plus all sorts of outrageous health benefits. Everything from curing cancer to weight loss and stopping the ageing process dead in it's tracks. Try it and see what you think. Warning: It's hard not to like it. 6 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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