Rarely has the Tea Room hosted such colourful and varied guests as this quintet of speciality Chinese green, white and oolong teas. Our Tasting Team explored a real treasure trove of flavours, each one having a name as interesting as its taste profile. Here’s what they thought of Cloud & Mist, Silver Needle, oolong and others…
A WORLD OF CHINESE TEA
The Chinese tea tradition goes back thousands of years. At one point, merchants were selling more than 8,000 different types of tea. Today, China produces 18% of world tea exports including a green, black tea, oolong and white tea. All tea comes from the same plant but the production method for each type is different, with varying levels of oxidation involved. What’s more, the conditions in which the tea is grown shape the flavour and character – the altitude, rainfall, humidity and temperature all have a bearing. Experiencing diverse flavours and aromas remains the most exciting part of the job for any Tea Taster.
JASMINE DRAGON PEARL
This curious green tea is made from young, tender leaves that are hand rolled into little balls or ‘pearls’ with tiny white tips. The leaves are scented with jasmine flowers from Fujian province, whereby a layer of flowers are placed on top of the tea and left for days. The flowers blossom overnight and fill the tea leaves with their distinctive aroma. Our Tea Tasters were fascinated by the natural fragrance and subtle sweet taste of the Jasmine Pearl – a tea rich in tradition.
EMERALD GREEN TEA
This delicate blend comes from a mountainous area known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ which lies in the northern Jiangxi province. Our Tea Taster, Dominic, was delighted with the tea’s pure green colour, freshness and ‘well-structured character’, remarking that it had ‘an aroma almost like roast chestnuts’.
CLOUD & MIST
As the name suggests, this Chinese green tea is grown in a climate of high rainfall and low cloud-cover, near Jingdezhen. With the first sip you can’t help but think of a lush mountain forest covered in ghostly mist. With the humid conditions, the tea bushes grow slowly which gives the final brew a fresh taste. The Tea Team praised this tea for its full-bodied aroma and sweet character.
Renowned for its unusual long and pointed shape, the aptly named Silver Needle is a traditional white tea from Fujian province with a delicate character – lighter than green tea. Newly sprouted single buds are picked over a few days in early spring making this tea extremely precious. Freshly plucked buds are laid out to dry in the sun. Tea Taster, Saleh, described this tea as having ‘a subtle taste of honey texture and undeniably smooth.’
Traditional Chinese oolong tea is classified as a completely distinct tea type in its own right. Unlike black tea, which is fully oxidised after plucking, and green tea, which is quickly processed to stop oxidisation, oolong undergoes a set period of oxidisation. King Oolong is a semi-oxidised tea from southern Fujian province, plucked during October, curled and twisted for a distinct shape. The Tea Team were drawn to the fruit aroma and the pleasantly sweet and refreshing taste.
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