TEA JOURNEY [2] | Top 10 Famous Chinese Teas

Jun 6, 2023

As the origin country of tea, China has a shortlist of their top teas. You may think teas may just consist of the "color" of the teas -- like green tea and black tea, but you'd be surprised that most of what makes the tea are actually green tea. Here are the criteria that the teas are judged for to make the list: 

1. Historical Background: When was the tea first produced?
2. Varietal Excellence: Does the tea have superior and representative qualities among teas with similar characteristics?
3. Representation: Is the tea produced in large quantities and easily available?

Top 10 Famous Chinese Teas:

1. Xihu Longjing 西湖 龍井 West Lake Dragon Well Green Tea

Production Area: Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
Tea Type: Green Tea (Pan-fired Green Tea)
Characteristics: This tea became famous when Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) of the Qing Dynasty visited the southern region and tasted Dragon Well tea made that year near West Lake. It is known for its clear color, subtle aroma, sweet taste, and the beautiful sparrow tongue-shaped leaves.

2. Dongting Biluochun 洞庭 碧螺春 Dongting Green Spiral Tea

Production Area: Dongting Mountain, Jiangsu Province, China
Tea Type: Green Tea (Pan-fired Green Tea)
Characteristics: Biluochun, which has a curled shape resembling a snail, is known for its delicate, furry appearance. The tea is picked from March to mid-April in spring, and prepared into the snail shell (luo) shape. To fully experience its abundant and elegant aroma, it is recommended to drink it from a glass.

3. Xinyang Maojian 信陽 毛尖 Xinyang Fur Needle Green Tea

Production Area: Xinyang, Henan Province, China
Tea Type: Green Tea (Pan-fired Green Tea)
Characteristics: It is made using the technique of Jin Jun Mei, resulting in a tea with golden-tipped leaves picked in mid or late-April. Its bright green tea tastes of chestnut aromas. 

4. Huangshan Maofeng 黃山 毛峰 Yellow Mountain Fur Peak Green Tea

Production Area: Huangshan, Anhui Province, China
Tea Type: Green Tea (Yellow-Green Tea)
Characteristics: This tea is known for its tender green color and a refreshing taste with a hint of briskness. The leaves are covered with white hairs (mao) and shaped like mountain peaks (feng), making it fitting to the famous Yellow Mountain of China.

5. Liu'an Guapian 六安 瓜片 Liu'an Melon Seed Green Tea

Production Area: Dabie Mountains, Anhui Province, China
Tea Type: Green Tea (Pan-Fired Green Tea)
Characteristics: Liu'an Guapian has a flat and simple shape, resembling sunflower seeds (or melon seeds). It has a rich floral fragrance that lingers, and its taste is fresh and refreshing. It's the only tea made from single leaves rather than buds or stalks. It's picked in mid-April about a couple of weeks before the Grain Rain (Guyu) season on April 20ish. 

6. Junshan Yin Zhen 君山 銀針 Junshan Silver Needle Tea

Production Area: Junshan, Dongting Lake, Hunan Province, China
Tea Type: Yellow Tea
Characteristics: Qunshan Yin Zhen, one of the most exotic type of tea -- yellow tea, has a green-yellow luster and abundant white fur. It's considered premium and preserves its aromas even when stored for a long time. It offers a clear and floral aroma and a smooth and mellow taste. The leaves only start to sink into the water after a couple of brews.

7. Keemun Hongcha 祁門 紅茶 Qimen Black Tea

Production Area: Qimen County, Huangshan City, Anhui Province, China
Tea Type: Black Tea (Red Tea)
Characteristics: Keemun Black Tea is a traditional black tea with a glossy, black appearance. It is known for its honey aroma, fruity notes, and floral fragrance. It has a distinct sweet taste. It's crowned the queen of black tea for its popularity in England by the Queen circa 1875. It's beautiful alone or with milk.

8. Anxi Tie Guan Yin 安溪 鐵觀音 Anxi Iron Goddess

Production Area: Anxi County, Fujian Province, China
Tea Type: Oolong Tea (Blue Tea)
Characteristics: Anxi Tie Guan Yin, with its semi-ball shape, offers a deep and long-lasting aroma with a sweet taste. After drinking the tea, a lingering fruity scent can be experienced. The tea is harvested 4 times a year in late spring, after summer solstice, once after the Great Heat, and in fall right before the White Dew in early September. Look out for the spring harvest to taste its King of Teas reputation.

9. Wuyi Yan Cha 武夷 岩茶 Wuyi Rock Tea

Production Area: Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province, China
Tea Type: Oolong Tea (Blue Tea)
Characteristics: Mu Dan Tea, produced in the Wuyi Mountain area, is known for its unique rock aroma. It combines smoky notes obtained through the roasting process with rich fragrances of orchids and fruits. The tea has a strong flavor and a rich, full-bodied mouthfeel.

10. Yunnan Pu'er 雲南 普洱 Yunnan Pu'er Dark Tea
Production Region: Pu-er County, Yunnan Province, China
Tea Type: Dark Tea (Black Tea)
Characteristics: Yunnan Pu'er Tea is produced as both Raw Pu'er Tea and Ripe Pu'er Tea. Raw Pu'er Tea has a light yellow-green color and offers a thick flavor and a mellow aftertaste. Ripe Pu'er Tea, on the other hand, has a bright reddish color with a deep and rich aroma, providing a refreshing taste. Prepared either way, the authentic pu'er (or pu'erh) tastes like an aged fine wine with its mature aromas.

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