Yuexi Emerald Orchid is a new tea from Anhui province (Yuexi Cuilan 岳西翠兰） Yuexi is a county on the border of Hubei province and this tea is a fairly new one. I had never heard of it, but a friend of mine who knows I like tea got his father to buy an extra half kilogram bag of the tea from his hometown to give to me. It was quite a thoughtful present, and great because I had never tried this tea before, and there is nothing I like better than trying a new tea. I was not sure what to expect of the tea from the package. However, It did say that it was organic on the cover, and my friend told me his father likes tea. The bag also proclaims the provincial and national recognition the tea has received. It began receiving awards in 1985, I think it was 1987 when it was declared a 'China Famous Tea' It can be found on babelcarp here
When I opened the bag I smelled the leaves right away. They smelled sweet and little bit like hay.
To brew my first gaiwan I used all leaves that had fallen on the table when I was pouring a portion of the tea out of the bag for use. I used boiling water that had been cooling for a few minutes and used all of the dry leaves pictured in a very small gaiwan. probably about 100ml or less. First poured a bit of water in to smell the fragrance. It smelled like fresh tea leaf -- a little bit like wintergreen.
First Infusion -- I infused this tea for about 45 seconds to a minute because I used few leaves. It was slightly astringent, but not unpleasant. The gaiwan lid smelled vegetal, a little bit like fresh cut grass. The chaqi was light and heady, but easily felt. This tea is certainly a green tea, but unlike the Zhejiang greens that I have been drinking (mostly Longjing and Wuniuzao.) The color of the soup was a bright green, not like the blue-green I was expecting from the description on the package.
Second Infusion -- About 1 minute. Still a little bit astringent, but very refreshing. Strong sweet wintergreen smell on the gaiwan lid. The feeling of the chaqi became more powerful, very heady. I realized during the second infusion that the flavour of this tea was most akin to fresh tea leaves than any other tea I have ever had. During a trek in the mountains last week to collect mountain spring water, my friend and I had been tasting the tea buds of wild tea trees on the path. Vegetal, somewhat evergreen and wintergreen like in flavour. This is what kept coming to mind. There is also a buttery mouthfeel flavour in the background, but the fresh tea leaf dominates.
Third Infusion -- Just over a minute. Weakening, but still refreshing. This tea has a very nice chaqi, which is refreshing, and energizing, but relaxing at the same time. I felt energized, but more mentally than physically. Could definitely feel Chazui coming on sooner than most teas, but in a very pleasant way.
Fourth and Fifth Infusions -- Used boiling water. The tea became much weaker, but was still refreshing and pleasant to drink. Wintergreen on Gaiwan lid still present. The soup in the last picture is from the fourth infusion.
The leaves were very delicate, this tea is very tippy and the leaves are less robust than Zhejiang Greens. I unfolded some of the leaves, but most of the ones that got into the gaiwan were broken, because I had used the fallen pieces. Most of the tea is not so broken up. My first impression is that the flavour of this tea is not very complex, but it is unlike any other green tea I have ever tasted. The only tea that reminds me of the fresh leaf flavour is a cheap Tieguanyin that I bought last November and stored in the freezer for the past 6 months. The Tieguanyin absorbed too much moisture because it was not properly sealed, and became very vegetal, but not in the pleasant way of this tea. It is so tippy, and the chaqi is of such a quality that I feel this tea may have been somewhat expensive. Another indication of quality is the number of infusions. I don't think I have ever gotten this much tea or chaqi out of so little green tea leaf. My friends father bought two bags and kept one. I hope he didn't spend much on me, but am flattered either way. May have to give some of it away in order to finish it before it looses these great attributes. If any of my readers really want to try Yuexi Cuilan, I would consider sending a bit, I don't know if you are allowed to mail the stuff under new Olympic China Post rules, but the regulations should be relaxed by the end of next months.