Just about one week to go and we’ll be back in Yixing just in time for this years tea season. I plan to pick and make as much tea as I can and I might post about it here too so stay tuned…
I finally managed to visit Chái Lín Jūn’s tea-farm just 2 days in of this years harvest.
Here an impression of, no, not the high quality tea they produce there, but of the rubbish that was deemed unfit and discarded during the sorting.
Although the tea trees have of course been planted and are cultivated there on the farm, they are allowed to grow almost as they would in the wild. No cutting for accelerated growth nor shaping for machine harvesting. It makes it a bit harder to pick the tea but that’s well worth it.
For larger versions of all images please click them.
Chái Lín Jūn does not machine harvest nor does he produce autumn tea. The reason for that is quality. Farmers who do produce and offer autumn teas here in China almost all use pesticides, even the so called organic ones. International tea importers are well aware of that and do test samples, but please don’t let me spoil your autumn greens should you like them, as at least on the international market they are fairly save to consume. Anyways, I personally tend to avoid them here.
Once the picking is done, usually in the early afternoon hours, the sorting starts immediately followed by shāqīng also known as kill-green.
For kill green and the first pre-shaping 2 machines are used, the rest of the process is done by hand. A wood fired air-oven is preheated.
The tea looks like this when it comes out the machine that helps squeezing the leaves a little and releasing the tea oils.
From there it goes onto the heated air to be hand-rolled with distinct movements.
I grabbed a handful almost finished tea and took this shot so you can compare and see how it started to curl up, changed its color and the little white hair started to show.
A few minutes later I enjoyed the first glass and as you can see, the little white hair made it all the way in there. MMMmMMMM, so delicious.
All tea made pre-qingming (before the 5th) is rather pricey and not much of it is available as Chái Lín Jūn’s farm is not industrial scale….
….however, if someone really really wants to have some of this fine pre-qingming green in their cups email me (as long as it is for personal use in a reasonable limited amount) or check the menu on the right hand side for varieties picked a bit later.
This year the tea harvest started a bit later due to the weather conditions but now finally it’s time.
In between we’ve been here though.
Fruit and other trees are grown between the tea bushes. Still without leaves this time of year but during the hot summer months their shade will protect the tea plants as well as keep them small and leaves tender.
The tea factory that produces from these fields was in Japanese hands before but has been sold back since then I’ve been told.
Inside its very roomy and clean.
Fairly modern equipment is being used to produce the tea.
Still handmade, but the temperature controlled and hot-air powered machines give an impressive result.
A whole day of picking with 140 workers on the 30th of March 2011 resulted in this much tea ->
Not exactly a lot and no one thinks they made any profit that day, but the quality is very fine indeed.
Inspired by TeaChat I’ll share what I have been drinking recently.
It was about one hour after lunch, and I had some excellent 2010 YangXianXueYa.
YangXian is the old name for Yixing and XueYa means snow leaf.
The new harvest for 2011’s YangXianXueYa is almost within reach, only a few weeks to go.