We are thrilled to see the return of an old green tea friend – Huangshan Mao Feng – from this season’s earliest harvest.
This year’s tea is a Tribute Grade – meaning that it was plucked from a careful culling of tiny leaf and buds plucked during the earliest time of the spring season – Pre-Qing Ming (Ming Qian). The attribution Tribute Tea means that the quality is so high that in an earlier time it would have been given only to the reigning emperor. In fact, Huangshan Mao Feng is one of a select small group of Famous Chinese Teas that have a long and noble history.
Huangshan Mao Feng is such a delicious tea – it is one of our top picks for instant ‘likeability’ in the cup. It is an excellent example of the easy, appealing nature of eastern Chinese green tea – it possesses an earthy, sweet vegetal aroma, extreme deliciousness, and a beautiful appearance. Huangshan Mao Feng is easy to steep and it is nearly impossible for this tea to become astringent.
Some Chinese tea enthusiasts expect a faint whiff of charcoal fire (sometimes described as a ‘toasty’ flavor or aroma) in the mao feng that they drink. We here at Tea Trekker enjoy that aroma and flavor when we drink tea in China, but we don’t find that our Western green tea customers want that flavor profile in their Huangshan mao feng.
So, Tea Trekker’s Huangshan mao feng has none of this taste – it is sweet, and clean and perfect for those who enjoy a green tea that is lush and pure.
This mao feng pluck green tea comes from the Huangshan – one of China’s most famous mountain ranges. This series of rugged and craggy peaks has been depicted in classic Chinese brush paintings for centuries, and historically has provided peaceful refuge for sages, poets, monks, artists and other solitary souls.
The Huangshan is a microcosm of natural wonders – soaring cliffs and pinnacles, balancing stones, waterfalls, dense forests, and calling birds. 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 pine and bamboo forests provide nurturing habitat for patches of tea gardens.
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 formation 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 Huangshan on our very first tea-buying trip to China, and to say that this is a magical place is an understatement. 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.
However, the cable car ride suspended us over chasms and canyons during the slow ride that carried us up over and between the peaks and through dense pockets of clouds & mist. The landscape was magical and the ride provided a nearly heart-stopping thrill.
The gossamer mist that develops here creates an astonishing atmosphere of serenity and delicacy in an otherwise rugged and sometimes forbidding landscape. The fineness of the swirling mist makes time and place disappear.
It is no small wonder that some of the finest tea in China comes from gardens in this general area.