Behind the Leaf: Chinese Green Teas

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Dearies, do you know where your green tea comes from? I did a post about popular Japanese green teas recently, and now I’m going to discuss some popular Chinese green teas. I remember traveling through China with Char. The big cities are so very interesting, and the rural areas we saw were just beautiful. Travel was a bit tough at times and I constantly worried about chips and scratches, but it helped that we were offered amazing tea everywhere we went. Chinese green teas vary depending on region and processing. Here are some of the more common types you’ll find:

Long Jing- grown in Zhejiang Province. In English it’s referred to as Dragonwell. This is the most well known tea in China, and because of that it’s also the most copied. Be careful and know your source! Why is this called Dragon well? According to legend, a Taoist monk came across a dragon hiding in a well. There was a lack of rain and drought in the area,  so the villagers prayed to the dragon to come to their aid. After the prayer it started to rain!  This tea has a flat shape. You’ll taste marine notes such as seaweed and ocean. It also has a lovely cooked veggie flavor that reminds Kat of steamed green beans. There is even a hint of sweetness in this tea. It is the most popular tea for a good reason!

Anji Bai Cha- also grown in Zhejiang. The word bai actually means white, but this is definitely a green tea. The white refers to the leaves which are so pale, they are practically white!  The leaves here are thin and long. The flavor is grassy, floral, and vegetal. It has a surprising tanginess as well. It’s a lovely, complex tea.

Mao Feng- grown in Anhui province. This pretty tea has lots of fine buds. It has a green bean fresh veggie flavor. But it’s more like raw veggies and not cooked like long jing. The freshness makes it mild and quite sweet.

Liu An Gua Pian- grown in Anhui province. This tea means ‘melon seed’ because of the shape of the leaves. They’re flat and a bit oval. This tea uses the second leaf, not the buds. Using these more mature leaves is very different from most other Chinese green teas that use the buds and young leaves. Since the leaves are a bit more mature, they have a more concentrated flavor. This tea is not delicate or vegetal. It has a toastier flavor due to being fired in the wok multiple times, with a nice floral finish.

Bi Lo chun (spring snail)- grown in Jiangsu province. These trees also produce Dong Shan tea, which is harvested after the bi lo chun season. This tea is called spring snail because it’s rolled into a spiral that looks like a snail and of course harvested in the spring. This tea has a delicate taste and floral aroma.

These are just a few of the many glorious Chinese teas you can find. All of these teas can be brewed in a gaiwan, grandpa style (loose in the cup/bowl), or also in a western style teapot. We like using a gaiwan as much as possible for these teas, as it extracts a large amount of flavor and you can get multiple steeps.

How many types of Chinese green tea have you tried? Dearies, they are all a bit different, so get out there and taste as many as you can.

Tippy Interviews Asya, the Turkish Tea Cup

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Dearies, I’ve decided it’s time to add a new series to the blog. As you know, I’m a traveling tea cup, and have been all over the world. I meet so many interesting pieces of tea ware, and it’s time that you started to learn their stories. Today, I’m interviewing Asya, a tea cup from Turkey that now lives in the US with one of Kat’s friends. I hope you enjoy!

Tippy: Please introduce yourself to my readers. Asya: my name is Asya, I am a glass lotus-shaped tea cup from Turkey. I was created in Turkey but now reside in a kitchen in the US I am a very busy tea cup, I get used all day long. I don’t have a particular saucer to call my own, my owner will pair me with whatever saucer she feels like using that day. She has quite a few colorful options. I love spending time with people, giving them lots of delicious tea to sip.

When are you used most? well, as I mentioned, I’m really busy all day long. Turks take their tea very seriously! I am used during breakfast, when company comes, for mid-afternoon work breaks, and after-dinner relaxation.

What kind of tea do you usually hold? In Turkey, lotus tea cups hold mainly bold, black tea. We refer to tea as çay. We brew our tea very strong, and then dilute it in the glass with hot water. Sugar is available as Turkish tea loves like tea sweet. We even have special tea kettles to prepare the tea.

Can you tell us a little more about the special tea kettle? Yes, we use a special double tea kettle, which is similar to the Russian samovar. It basically looks like one teapot stacked on top of a second one. Black tea is brewed in the top pot, and water is boiled in the bottom. The water is used to dilute the tea for each individual glass, so everyone can drink the tea as strong or as weak as they like.

Where do the tea leaves come from? The tea we prefer to use is grown and processed in Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea. Not many people realize that we grow tea in Turkey! We are actually the world’s sixth largest producer of tea.

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Everyone has heard of Turkish coffee, but is tea really that popular in Turkey? Yes, tea is really quite popular in Turkey. It is always offered to guests and visitors as a sign of hospitality. As I mentioned I am used multiple times a day at home, and people also consume tea in cafes.

Is the custom to drink the tea by itself, or add any milk, sugar, or anything else? We usually drink our tea without milk. As I mentioned you can add sugar, often two lumps will be sitting on my saucer ready for use. You may add the sugar to your tea, or people in some areas like to put a sugar cube between their tongue and cheek, and let it slowly dissolve with each sip. The only other thing that may be added is a slice of lemon.

Can you tell us one of your most memorable tea experiences? Well, when my owner Natalie was visiting her family in Turkey, she was taught how to brew tea using our special kettles. One afternoon she was alone in the house when a family friend dropped by. After greeting the friend, Natalie offered her something to eat, but not any tea! After a little while I was able to get her attention and explained that she must offer her guest tea. When her parents came home, she was reprimanded for not immediately offering her guest tea. It’s considered very rude not to have tea ready for guests! Everyone was laughing at Natalie’s mistake, but she was quite embarrassed. I am actually fond of this memory, because it’s the first time I was able to help Natalie out with tea time.

Thank you so much Asya for the interview! See Dearies, I’m not the only chatty teacup! I hope you enjoyed the first interview in our series. If you have any questions for Asya, let me know in the comments!