Sunee and I have been drinking Kuding Cha now for about a year. Had no idea what it was until recently. We bought it shortly after moving here last year, tried it and found it bitter but very refreshing. Not long ago we found that it was not actually a tea from the tea plant but from the Kuding bush which grows wild in these mountains. It is supposed to be good for balancing one's yin and yang or some such thing. We were told that we should only drink it once every two or so weeks. We have been doing that for a long time now. The people of Sichuan have been drinking it for over three centuries.
Since we were turned on to tea and tea culture on our trip to Ya'an, I have been doing internet research to find out all I can about all the teas we have come into contact with. Kuding cha is no exception.
This is a close-up of the kuding sticks. "Ku" means bitter and the "ding" refers to the shape of the product and how it resembles the Chinese character "ding" (丁)
As you can see, the kuding cha looks like sticks. One is plenty for around eight to ten steepings (is this what one does to teas?).
Recently we bought some different kuding cha. The first was heavily twisted making them look like curly macaroni. The second was called Qing Shan Lu Sui or Clear Mountain Green Water. The curly kuding tastes exactly like the sticks. The Clear Mountain stuff is nice. It is not as bitter and very light with a beautiful green liquid. The stick kuding might be too bitter for many people but the Clear Mountain kuding is probably ok for most.
Curly kuding cha. This is actually more bitter than the sticks so one takes about a third of one of these curly thing for their tea
This is a close up of the Clear Mountain Green Water kuding cha. It is a very green dried product
Clear Mountain Green Water kuding cha loose leaf
The leaves open up and look exactly as they were picked. These are young leaves whereas the other kuding are mature leaves
And the liquid that results from the first steeping is absolutely beautiful
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