wild tea

It’s QingMing 2011 and we went out to have some fun. We visited a water-reservoir and walked around enjoying the sunshine. All in all a nice day already, but on our way back I was thinking about tea. To have been at Chái Lín Jūn’s 2011 harvest was already very exiting, and having stashed away some of his pre-qingming BiLuoChun for myself even more, but today … that was something different!

We stopped on the side of the road, just about 10km or so from DingShan and went up a hillside into the forest to see if we get lucky. Guess what, we did!

Did you notice the little plant near the path?

few steps further in a bigger one already, and yes, indeed, they are wild tea plants.

and more… 🙂

We intended to find some wild tea when we entered the forest, but I would have never thought it’d be so easy.

so we started picking of course.

and the leaves we found where fine. Very fine.

It was already past our usual lunchtime and we didn’t have too much time to spend, but within an hour we managed to pick this much.

Back home I had to figure out what to do with all the goodness, and so I gave it a go. My first time homemade tea. In theory I do of course know how it’s done and I have also seen it being done live but doing it myself at home was a first. Now, where to start? Shāqīng of course, to stop the leaves from oxidizing any further. That one is not too hard actually. Just in the dry wok, …..

…. and there we go.

Now after that was done, how to proceed without equipment?

Blow-Hairdryer and a kitchen strainer? … not really. I started to activate my mad MacGyver skills and invented.

I was a bit worried that the sticky-tape will give out some smell and ruin the tea, but luckily those worries where unfounded.

And in a box it went. Not all that much, so this time I can’t share any, but I am already planning to cycle out again in the next few days and pick some more. The result of my first attempt at making green tea closeup looks like this:

I handled the leaves a bit too rough I feel but all in all I’m rather pleased with myself.

THE SMELL, THE AROMA! Not that bad for a first timer.

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4 replies on “wild tea”

The first to notice is the aroma, which of course smells of tea but in a way that is hard to describe. It’s almost smelling more like tea than tea. Difficult to explain, but if you are familiar with wild European strawberries (Fragaria vesca) and compare that to the common garden strawberry, it’s a bit like that. The tea plants there on the hillside where overgrown by trees, shielding them somewhat from direct sunlight. You can probably tell from the pictures. This brought out some sweetness in the buds especially in aftertaste. Not as much sweetness as artificially covered tea is sometimes forced to produce but quite a bit. Noticeably sweeter than Chái Lín Jūn’s pre-qingming harvest which already has a good share of sweetness itself. My wife’s mom and her mom where out with us that day (3 generations) and although they did pick some tea with us for a while, their attention quickly moved towards wild goji berry plants which they collected leaves of and later also made some sort of herbal-tea from it. The goji berries leave’s smell is fairly strong, a bit like fresh hay in summer with a hint of dried bamboo shoots and it seemed to have influenced the tea too. Starting off very fruity, each refill in my little glass brought out a slightly more acerbic note. No bitterness whatsoever to start with, thanks to small and very young tea buds but also due to the limited amount of leaves I used per cup as well as very short steeping time before the next water top-up just before the leaves are not covered anymore. The bitter note is weak all the way through but seems to peak around the 5th steeping, from which it gets milder again.

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