The wait is over! We've had some gaps in our range over the past few weeks, but we are now fully stocked up with all of our Chinese green teas, each one from the 2017 harvest and freshly shipped in from our suppliers around China.
We've been tasting this year's new crop of teas, so here's a quick spotlight on three old favourites that are now back on the shelves:
Grown near the village of Xin Yang in Henan Province, our Mao Jian is an excellent introduction to Chinese green tea in general. With an accessible, naturally sweet flavour and a refreshing, clean mouthfeel, it is ideal for the afternoon or for relaxing after food.
The name Mao Jian literally translates as 'hair point', and refers to the long, thin shape of the leaves. The tea regularly appears on lists of the Ten Famous Teas, an unofficial and often varied list of the ten greatest teas in China. A list compiled by China's Agriculture Department in 1959 is often circulated as the definitive list of the Ten Teas, and lists Mao Jian specifically from the Xin Yang region.
This year's crop definitely lives up to this history and earns its place on the range of unofficial new Top Ten lists that are made throughout China.
Our high grade green jasmine tea is also back in stock. Jasmine has been used to scent green tea for centuries, with a traditional and natural process used to add flavour to the tea without the need for artificial flavourings. Green tea leaves are spread out and then covered with a layer of jasmine blossoms, which naturally open up at dusk and infuse their scent into the tea leaves. This process is left to happen over several days. Traditionally this would happen in Fujian Province, the region where most green tea used to make jasmine tea is grown. More recently, jasmine harvests in neighbouring Guangxi Province have been significantly better, so tea is now often prepared in the spring, shipped to Guangxi for scenting and then shipped back to Fujian to be sold on or distributed around the world.
High grade jasmine teas often have the blossoms painstakingly removed from the final tea, to demonstrate that the flavour has been allowed to infuse into the leaves through the traditional process and that the tea maker is not relying on the flavour of the blossoms to give the impression that the traditional process has been followed. These dragon pearls get their name from the hand-rolled ball shape, and the resemblance the leaves have to Chinese dragons when they unfurl during infusion.
This is a classic example of a Fujian Province green tea, grown in the Taimu Mountain area right on the coast. Made using only the first two leaves and the bud of the tea plant, and only from tea harvested in the first two weeks of the season, this is another high grade tea that makes for a great introduction to Chinese green teas.
There has been some controversy over exactly how to classify White Monkey, whether it should belong to the white tea or green tea category. Strictly, despite its name, it is a green tea. The categories refer to processing techniques and how oxidised the leaf is, and White Monkey sits firmly in the green tea category. The name refers to the fine white down on the surface of the leaf and the resemblance to a monkey's paw that the processed leaves are said to have.
White Monkey is well-known for its light, sweet flavour, being regarded as a particularly mellow type of green tea. We were surprised, but quite pleased, with this year's crop, which has a light smokiness to it along with the usual refreshing taste.
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