Chinese tea. It’s just boiled leaves, there can’t be that many, right? Wrong. The practise of making and drinking tea in China is both long and varied. Depending on what region the tea originates from, the type of leaf, how the leaves were grown, how the leaves are boiled, dried, how early they’re roasted after picking, whether it’s floral, the variety of flavours are endless.
Whether it’s for health benefits or flavour, there are certain teas in certain areas that rise above the rest to become known as the best in China. Here’s a list of five of the many types of masterful tea you can find in different provinces in China. If you ever find yourself in one of these places, makes sure to take a sample of their quali-tea!
1. Pu’er, Yunnan Province
Pu’er, from Pu’er county in the southern province of Yunnan, is debatably the most popular tea in China, it is a tea with a very distinct flavour. Commonly made from cooked and fermented leaves, this Chinese tea becomes more flavoursome and odorous with age.
Although its popularity in China can’t be argued (it’s pretty much drunk every day, everywhere, in every tea house and restaurant), it isn’t a wildly welcome choice outside of China as its earthy flavour can sometimes put people off.
2. Long Jing, Zhejiang Province
Long Jing, or ‘Dragon Well’ tea is produced in the beautiful mountainside village, Long Jing in Hangzhou, where it has been picked and produced for hundreds of years. Its notable flavours are sweet, mild and buttery.
The full body of flavours this tea produces can also give it some nutty undertones and make, what is actually a very light and thin drink, taste extremely rounded. The fame and great taste of these leaves have earned them an imperial status which, unfortunately, has made them quite expensive, but that only makes them more worth it!
3. Da Hong Pao, Fujian Province
Grown in the remote Wuyi Mountains of Fujian province, Da Hong Pao, or ‘Great Red Robe’ tea has a history that has become several different legends. So it goes, the emperor’s sick mother was cured by the Da Hong Pao tea leaves, and to show his gratitude, the emperor draped a red robe over the 3 bushes that produced the miracle leaves.
The 3 mother bushes are still growing today and can be viewed in the Wuyi nature reserve. Tea from these bushes has been sold for over $1,000,000. Thankfully, the tea from younger bushes is not so expensive, and ready to be drunk!
4. Baihao Yinzhen, Fujian Province
Also called the ‘White Hair Silver Needle’, this Chinese tea is brewed exclusively in two-part of Fujian province, Zhenghe and Fuding. Named for the leaf’s stunningly white, hairy and needle-like appearance, this tea is known for being the most expensive of all the white teas produced in China. And for good reason.
White teas differ from greens through the oxidisation process. While greens are commonly pan-fried after being plucked, whites are usually left in the sun to dry out. They are sweeter in flavour with a more delicate aroma. Where green tea becomes grassy, white teas tends to be more floral. If you prefer your brews to be lighter and fresher, then white teas are for you.
Additional Tea Find: Also be on the lookout for Jasmine Silver Needle tea, which is also found in Fujian province. Less expensive than Biahao Yinzhen, jasmine flowers are used to infuse the leaves with a delicate jasmine scent. The tea has a soft and gentle flavour with a refreshing floral aroma.
5. Huangshan Maofeng, Anhui Province
Grown on the incredibly beautiful Yellow Mountains of Anhui Province, Huangshan Maofeng, or Yellow Mountain’s Furry Peak, is one of the most famous types of Chinese tea.
It’s grown wild, high in the mountains which brings another level of sweetness through the oxidisation process. But, for all it’s fame, the tea is actually very subtle. With mild floral hints, the tea is both smooth and mellow making it a great Chinese tea for lovers of flavours that aren’t too overbearing.