Saturday, October 18, 2008

Emei Mountain Mao Jian or Hairy Tips Tea

We went to one of the bigger markets in Emei City today to buy some chocolate for Sunee to take to Thailand. Once again, I was lusting after the selection of cute little Yixing teapots. They have tripled their selection since I was there last. Sunee was not interested so I browsed the tea section. It was then that I discovered the Mao Jian which we eventually bought. Got a 100 gram bag to try. This is what we found:

Emei Mao Jian does not look anything like the Zhuyeqing we have been drinking nor the Xue Ya we just discovered. The leaves are different sizes and have funny bits of hair on them. They are also dried differently. Both the Zuyeqing and the Xueya are uniform in appearance and maintain their tea leaf appearance. As you can see from this, the leaves are distorted, curled with no uniformity in either color or shape.

If you look closely, you can see the hair on the underside of each of the leaves. I guess that is the reason it is called Mao Jian, right?

Beautiful light green and orange color. A beautiful cup of tea. How does it taste? At first, it was totally different than the Zhuyeqing with a different taste and aroma. As I drank it, though, I got the distinct feeling that is did have an up front taste of slight bitterness and the familiar sweetness in the aftertaste. Very similar "feeling" that I had with the Xueya. All three green teas are great teas.

I cannot say enough good things about Emei Shan green teas. They are special. If I had to rank the four green teas we have had thus far, my favorite would have to be the Xueya. Wow, is it magnificent. Of course, the famous Zhuyeqing is close behind followed by the Mao Jian. The Emei Shan Mao Feng would then follow the Mao Jian. The Mao Feng, though, IMHO, does not so neatly fit in with the first three. It is a different taste altogether and if there is such a thing as a "family of teas" based on tastes, Mao Feng would probably be a cousin not a brother or sister.

The main difference in these four Emei green teas would have to be price. Zuyeqing and Xueya are relatively expensive. The least expensive is the Mao Feng. We tend to drink it as our daily tea because of its pricing and value. No doubt that after today, we will be drinking a lot of the newly discovered Mao Jian, which almost matches the pricing of the Mao Feng. Living in the shadow of Emei Shan does have its benefits.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Emei Mountain Xue Ya or Snow Bud Tea

Last night we walked over to the tourist section of Baguan Village to get some Teh Guan Yin for Sunee to take to Thailand for her family. I took some interesting pictures as we went:

The Bronze Pagoda at the base of the tourist area.

This beautiful man-made waterfalls next to the bronze pagoda is very impressive at night.

Another view of the bronze pagoda at night. I fiddled with the huge incense burner to get it to show up

As we walked to the tea seller where we buy our tea, we stopped at a fairly new tea store specializing in Emei Mountain Xue Ya or Snow Buds. We had seen this for sale at Baguan Temple during the holidays and wondered what it was. It looks like it is being marketed as a "precious Emei tea." Maybe we should check this tea out. It is not cheap.

We bought a couple of bags of Teh Guan Yin and asked about the Xue Ya tea. The lady had it so we bought a little to see what it was like. This is what we found:

Xue Ya or Snow Bud tea looks a lot like Zhuyeqing but the leaves look a little smaller and more delicate. The color is almost the same as is the smell.

Fabulous looking tea! It has the familiar greenish color of Zhuyeqing and smells similar. The taste is magnificant. It seems to have all the good qualities of Zhuyeqing but the sensation lasts a bit longer. The familiar sweet aftertaste is present as well.

We tried it also in the traditional way to serve Zhuyeqing. The leaves were much more fun to watch than Zhuyeqing. They were slower but more definitive in their movement to the bottom. We had a great time watching them dance their way to the bottom. The tea is stronger than Zhuyeqing in the same steep time. I think this is because the leaves are lighter and take longer to get to the bottom. This is truly a great green tea.

Sunee plans to return immediately to the tea seller and stock up on this tea for here and for Thailand. Welcome to Emei Mountain and its wonderful teas!

Emei Gao Shan OoLong

We bought this tea a month ago from one of the tea sellers in Baguan Village. We remembered that it was an Oolong and that was all. Last night we walked to buy some more tea for Sunee to take to Thailand and we asked the name of this tea. It is Emei Gao Shan Oolang or "High Mountain Wulong." This morning I thought I would make some and see what we thought.

This tea is dark and tightly curled. It's aroma is not bad but not very impressive. From a distance, the dried leaves look almost black.

A closer look reveals that the tea is a dark green with an occasional lighter leaf. The best way to describe it is to say "tight and compressed individual leaves." Is there a special name for this?

Here is another view of the tea up close.

The tea, after about a minute of steeping, comes out a pretty good dark orange. It looks pretty good, but IMHO, it sucks. It tastes exactly like Lipton tea bags and most of the tea one buys in Thailand at the local grocery store.

The taste is not complex but in your face (or in your mouth). It has no sweet or bitter or any other sensation that we have come to expect from great teas. I cannot imagine ever being satisfied with such a lousy tea. No wonder Emei is not famous for its oolong and this stuff is relative cheap compared to the greens we buy. I bet they use the worst of the leaves, leftovers maybe, to make this stuff. We only bought a little to give it a try and we tried it. Anyone interested in some tea for free? I eventually gave this tea away to my fellow teacher, Tom, who uses it with milk and sugar.