Harvest: Spring, 2011
Varietal: Tie Guan Yin
Growing Region: Anxi County, Fujian
Our Shade Grown Tie Guan Yin is a green style Anxi Tie Guan Yin that was harvested and processed* in the Spring of 2011, but the way it was grown makes the mouthfeel and particularly the aftertaste quite different from traditionally grown Tie Guan Yin. Our Shade Grown Tie Guan Yin was grown very much like Japan’s Kabusecha (a partially shade-grown green tea). It was grown in full sun like a regular Tie Guan Yin until 2-3 weeks before harvest. At that point, a cover/net was rolled out directly on top of the tea plants to block about half of the sunlight. The reduced exposure to sunlight increases amino acid & chlorophyll levels in the leaves, resulting in a finished product with a fuller mouthfeel and an exceptionally rich, penetrating and mouth-coating bittersweet aftertaste.
This tea’s leaves are tightly rolled with a color that ranges from deep, forest green to more of an emerald shade. The aroma of the dry leaves is very much like a traditional Tie Guan Yin in that it is fresh and clean with a vegetal sweetness and hints of flowers. The liquor is a very clear yellowish green with a lovely floral aroma reminiscent of lilac and orchids.
In my experience, when steeped gong fu style, the first infusion of this tea tends to present itself very much like a more typical green style Tie Guan Yin with a slightly thicker mouthfeel. After the leaves begin to open up more in subsequent infusions, however, is when this tea starts to give up the rich, full aftertaste that comes from growing under shade.
While on my Spring buying trip this year, I had the opportunity to taste many different Anxi Tie Guan Yin oolongs, and this particular one was the only one that really grabbed my attention. It is definitely a green style Tie Guan Yin, but I feel that the experience of drinking this tea is more well rounded. Traditional Anxi Tie Guan Yin has a floral and sweet finish that lingers nicely but tends to be a bit thin in the mouth, but this shade-grown version has a robust richness that makes it quite special…and I can’t stop drinking it!