This green tea comes from one of China’s most famous mountains – the Huang Shan. This series of rugged and craggy peaks has been depicted in classical Chinese brush paintings for centuries. This microcosm of natural wonders – soaring cliffs and pinnacles, balancing stones, waterfalls, dense forests, and calling birds – has always been a place of solace and inspiration to monks, scholars, hermits and artists. At the top of these peaks vegetation is thin and sparse, and in many places pine trees cling to the sides of rocky ledges in threadbare soil, stretching towards the light. Lower down the mountain, the vegetation becomes thick and tea gardens tumble their way down to the base of the mountain.
This landscape provides a rich terroir for this tea. The tea gardens are protected and very lush. One feature that makes this tea so delicious is the daily formations of ‘clouds & mist ‘ that rise up the canyons and swirl throughout the peaks, bathing the tea gardens in nourishing moisture and providing gentle protection from the sun.
We visited the Huang Shan on our first tea-buying trip to China, and to say that this is a magical place is understating it. One can walk up a series of long, steep and crumbling stone stairs to eventually arrive at the top, or take a cable car ride from the half-way point. We opted for the cable car as the stone steps are always wet from the clouds & mist and the walkways appeared to us to be a challenging undertaking best left for those with more daredevil blood in their veins that we had. However, the cable car ride suspended us over chasms and canyons between the peaks and through dense pockets of clouds & mist. This gossamer mist creates an astonishing atmosphere of serenity and delicacy in an otherwise rugged and sometimes forbidding landscape that makes time and place disappear.
It has been many years since we had Huang Shan Mao Feng tea in the shop and we are thrilled to have it return. This tea is one of our top picks for the those looking to experience their first Chinese green tea. It is an excellent example of the easy, appealing nature of eastern Chinese green tea – it possesses delicacy, extreme deliciousness, a beautiful appearance, and sweet, vegetal aroma. It is nearly impossible for this tea to over-extract and become astringent.
This batch has been hand-shaped and dried over charcoal fire in a bamboo basket. This is the traditional way ( not all green teas are dried this way anymore ) and the style that Tea Trekker prefers. We have held this tea back for a few weeks before putting it up for sale so that the smokiness would dissipate. The slight wood smoke remaining in the flavor and aroma will become just a suggestion in the next few weeks. This tea will steep successfully several times, and by the 2nd and 3rd steeping the sweetness of the leaf with come through.