Looking back on my journey through the world of green tea, I quickly discovered that its charm goes beyond the common notion that the fresher, the better. Breaking away from the stereotype, I came to realize that the universe of green tea unfolds as a delightful mosaic of diverse experiences, with some requiring a measure of patience.
Today's focus is on Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain), a renowned terroir in Anhui province that has 9 distinct teas listed on 'China’s most famous teas' short-list established since the beginning of modern China (circa 1940). Some of these have a long history, and were preserved through dynasties, while others disappeared, only to resurface later through careful research and historical records. Today’s subject from the list is called Huang Shan Mao Feng. A green tea dating back from the Qing dynasty when emperor Guang Xu was ruling (1875-1908). This Hong Qing Lu Cha (roasted green tea) is obtained from the Huang Shan Da Ye Zhong cultivar and boasts a robust profile. Yes, robust. In fact, we could use wine as an analogy here and consider that while some green teas, like Bi Luo Chun or Zhu Ye Qing are delicate Margaux appellation. Huang Shan Mao Feng definitely belongs to the bolder Pomerol AOC.
The sample for this little experiment is from mid-May 2023, but didn’t make my list at the time because a noticeable sharpness in the mouth was affecting the liquor's smoothness and roundness. Time to see if the 8 months of storage have addressed the not-so-perfect texture concern.
Aging in storage for this grade 1 (1 bud, 2 leaves) results in distinct brownish spots on the tea. The unmistakable hallmark of authentic Huang Shan Mao Feng remains evident, with the characteristic ivory bud easily discerned within two yellowish leaves.
Toasty chestnut aromas, a subtle floral note, and crisp, invigorating freshness reminiscent of young pea shoots. Oily, round body, swift and persistent fresh finish.
I'm uncertain whether the robust nature of this green tea contributed to its endurance. Perhaps. Nevertheless, the tea ultimately produces a well-rounded and balanced brew, with no sign of sharpness indicating that the storage was indeed beneficial.
This encounter fuels my curiosity to explore the evolution of green tea over time and I already know the next specimen that will help me in my quest. One that could easily be considered as a truly rare green tea and that I have held in my collection since 2004.