While in Guilin, we visited the Guilin Tea Science & Research Institute, an organic tea plantation where every step of the production process is done traditionally by hand. We experienced a traditional Chinese tea ceremony and enjoyed Osmanthus tea, Liu Bao Compressed Tea, High Mountain Yellow Tea and a variety of oolongs. Do you know it takes 50,000 tea needles to make a half-kilo of white tea?
Tea serves many purposes, to quench thirst, aid digestion, fall asleep or stay awake.
The Chinese believe tea should be drunk when you are calm so that you can fully appreciate it. You should not drink it when you are busy and it should be enjoyed with few people to avoid excitement (the opposite of alcohol.)
All tea comes from the same evergreen shrub (camellia sinensis); there are some varieties of this shrub, however tea is distinguished by the time the leaves are picked and how they are treated.
I learned how much the Chinese value not only the plants, but the water used to make tea. It is said that, “water in mountains is best, in rivers is ok, and in wells is second rate.”
Here are a few tea tips that I learned while in in China:
When drinking black or oolong teas, drink from a clay pot. There are many pores that absorb the tea and after 2 years it absorbs the teas flavor. The clay also helps maintain a high temperature. Pour hot water over of the pot and when the outside is dry the tea is ready to drink. Porcelain pots are best for white and yellow teas as it cools quickly. Green tea is preferred to be drunk in clear glass so that the tea drinker can observe the tealeaves floating and sinking. Remember to always rinse the tea leaves before steeping to purify.
Tea process: manual picking of tealeaves, checking and selecting of leaves, withering tea leaves indoor, drying tea, kneading tealeaves, manual parching of tealeaves.
White Tea – These leaves are young and/or minimally processed, it includes 1 shoot and 2 leaves, it is light in flavor and good to have in the morning.
Yellow Tea – This tea is good for sleeping or for a sore throat. It has virtually no caffeine and was discovered while making green tea, the fermentation process is called “annealing yellow.”
Green Tea – Not fermented and tastes simple and elegant. It retains the original flavor of tea.
Black Tea – Fermented for 72 days, this is sometimes referred to as “red” tea due to the color the leaf turns the water.
Oolong Tea – This is somewhat of a combination of green and black tea as it uses green teas finishing techniques and black teas fermenting skill (fermented for 36 days), it is high in energy and good to have in the afternoon.
Pu’er – a specific aged and fermented dark tea produced with leaves from the Yunnan Province. It is a roll tea and is pronounced “pu’ar.”
Compressed Tea – This tea is fermented for 3 months. It is made from combining white, green, yellow, black and oolong tea. It is said that drinking compressed tea helps to burn fat and lower cholesterol. This tea is good for digestions and has no caffeine; it’s good to have after dinner. This tea comes in a brick and should be cut with a tea knife as needed. Due to it’s compact structure it will last for years.
*ps. Did you know that Japanese matcha whisks are made with a single peice of bamboo?