Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zhejiang (and Guizhou) Green Teas

Yesterday I had a great tea day. I went to my friend's shop because he had some tea merchants from Lishui (a prefecture level division of Zhejiang province) at his shop.  They brought Anji Baicha, Xihu Longjing and Wuniuzao in large boxes and bags, altogether there must have about 200 pounds of tea. I took a blurry picture of all the boxes of tea which I won't post. (Below is a photo of some tea samples. The larger green leaves[upper left] are 'Anji baicha,' the other two are 'Wuniuzao.')
I really liked the white tea that they brought, although I thought it tasted a lot like green tea. Finally I realized that what they meant by 'baicha' was actually 'Anji baicha,' which is just a green tea from Anji in Zhejiang that is called white tea.  (Pictured below)

I drank about 4 different varieties of tea, and they were all enjoyable as green tea always is when it is new. (Pictured below is one of their 'wuniuzao' teas)

Of course, none of the teas were actually grown in the areas they were supposed to have been grown in. All were grown and processed in Lishui. It is very hard to sell green tea for a good price in many places in China if it is not a famous name. I don't drink enough green tea to really be able to tell just by looking that these teas were not real, and they still tasted good. I did notice that the tea they were calling 'Wuniuzao' did not have the dark fat 'posterior' which is common to first flush teas of that varietal.

On Friday I looked in on a new tea shop opening up near my friends, they sell only green tea from Guizhou. I tried some of their most expensive tea which was called Cuiya (翠芽, emerald buds or emerald shoots.) It was a very well made green using only very short buds, no leaves. The firing was also done well as the buds almost all stood upright at the bottom of the glass. I usually like to drink a lower end green tea with leaf/bud sets as they have a more robust flavor, but this tea had a rather full flavor. It was slightly hard to enjoy as they were still remodelling and the whole place stank of paint.

The Guizhou shop also used a lot of big names like Biluochun, Zhuyeqing, etc. They said this was just a way to describe the processing method and not an attempt at tricking people. They hadn't stocked all their teas yet so I couldn't check them all out.


Bret said...

Lucky You! I wish we had accsess to fresh teas like that. That is the greenest green tea Ive seen. I wonder does the color darken with time? Ive yet to see a tea here that was such a fresh, emerald green. Enjoy.

LaoChaGui said...

I often feel as though Japanese greens hold up pretty well, while Chinese greens not so much. I think it has a lot to do with the Japanese in general going in for things like more expensive and effective packaging and nitrogen flushing, etc.

I wish I had taken a picture of the Guizhou Cuiya, it was even greener!

Bret said...

Yeah I think all tea should be nitro flushed as it greatly prolongs the shelf life. Vacuum packing I guess is better than nothing but is no where near as effective.