A Prose about Exclusivity
Thank you for drinking tea with us.
"Royal Banquet" aims to bring tea drinkers into the world of very fine and exclusive teas. These teas used to be inaccessible to commoners in time gone by, but today we are able to bring it to you via our network of sourcing direct from the farms and our friendship with the producers.
The three teas on feature are a green tea and two wulong teas (one fresh, one aged), namely:
- 2022 First Pick Lion’s Peak Xi Hu Long Jing (头采西湖狮峰山龙井) [Unlisted], 6 gm
- 2021 Taiwan Oriental Beauty Wulong Tea [Unlisted], 6 gm
- 1998 Aged Wuyi Wulong Rou Gui (1998陈年武夷乌龙肉桂) [Unlisted], 6 gm
Long Jing green tea is perhaps the most famous tea within and outside China. Its history stretched back 1,300 years ago when it was recorded in Lu Yu’s Classic of Tea (Tang dynasty) that neighbouring temples Ling Yin Temple and Tian Zhu Temple produces tea. During the Song dynasty, these teas were listed as royal tribute teas. During the Qing dynasty, Qianlong emperor and the Empress Dowager made this tea further amplified its fame by ringfencing 18 tea shrubs and designating them as royal tribute tea for her. During that time, there were so many stories about the tea and the area that “Long Jing Records” was compiled. Of course, this tea is famous because it is well made and delicious. Ming dynasty records mentioned about the tea’s “flag and spear” shape. Another late Ming dynasty record mentioned the distinctive soy bean flavour from tea from “Old Long Jing” area which is the area where Emperor Qianlong ringfenced the 18 shrubs. Indeed, the area has a long history and already a tourist site since ancient times. The West Lake immediately to the northeast of the tea production area is praised for its scenic beauty. Surely, this was one of the most beautiful places in China when Hangzhou (the city) and Suzhou (capital of Jiangsu province) were compared metaphorically to heaven by Song dynasty academic Fan Cheng Da. It is said that Long Jing is best brewed using water from Hu Pao Spring. Some research tells us that Hu Pao Spring has water with low Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) and 30 micronutrients. As such, we choose to brew this tea using filtered water at 80°C with our tea evaluation set. We attained soy bean flavour, finishing with complex notes of nutmeg, frangipani and raspberry. We continued to stress the tea using 95°C but still did not detect any astringency albeit having slight bitterness.
Taiwan Oriental Beauty is heavily oxidised but non-roasted, and is valued for its unique honey flavour. This tea won the meritorious award at the 2021 Winter Season Hsinchu Oriental Beauty Tea Competition. It goes by a few names in Taiwan which started exporting wulong teas abroad towards the end of the 19th century. During that time, tea was mainly grown at low elevation in the north of Taiwan where leafhoppers attacked tea leaves during summer when tea was to be harvested. As tea value is very much dependent on the shape, size and look of the tea, it was difficult to sell the tea when that happened. One particular tea farmer in Beipu (Hsinchu county) decided to sell his worm-bitten leaves nevertheless, and was pleasantly surprised to be offered an exceptionally high price by an English merchant sourcing for the first world Expo “The Great Exhibition” in London in 1951. When he shared his encounter with other tea makers, he was misunderstood to be bragging, thus earning it the label “bragger’s tea”(Pong Hong Teh in Hokkein). This tea ultimately made its way to the Queen Victoria who officiated “The Great Exhibition”. The unique processing of the tea produced varied colours on the leaves, and with its elegant dancing in the glass, the Queen immediately praised the tea as an oriental beauty. This tea is also known as “Wu Se Cha” referring to the varied colours of its leaves. It is also known as Bai Hao wulong, referring to the white fur on the tea buds, indicating early picking. As wulong teas are made for high brewing stamina which then requires older leaves, the tippy leaves of Oriental Beauty is indeed special. We brewed the tea using filtered water at 90°C for 1 min with our zisha teapot, and we were not disappointed with the honey flavour finishing to a sugarcane sweetness.
台湾东方美人茶经重氧化不烘焙，因其独特的蜂蜜风味而备受推崇。此茶在2021年冬新竹东方美人茶大赛中荣获优良奖。它在台湾名字众多。 19 世纪末，台湾开始向海外出口乌龙茶。当时，茶区主要在北部低海拔地带，夏季采茶时经常受小绿叶蝉侵食。茶叶价值在很大程度上取决于茶叶的形状、大小和外观，被虫害侵食的茶叶基本卖不掉。北埔（新竹县）的一位茶农还是决定卖掉他的茶，却惊喜地发现一位英国商人以极高的价格，他是为1951年在伦敦举办的第一届世博会“大展”采购的。茶農向乡人提及此事，竟被指为“膨風”（指吹牛）。之后茶农发现他所说的属实，便叫此茶 “膨風茶”。在伦敦“大展”上，商人将此茶呈现于莅临开幕的维多利亚女王。茶叶的独特工艺使茶叶呈现出多姿多彩的色彩，随着它在玻璃杯中翩翩起舞，女王立即称赞它为东方美人。除这两个名称外，
这茶也被称为“五色茶”，指的是它的叶子颜色多样；又名白毫乌龙，指茶芽上的白色毛皮，显示它是早采的茶叶。由于乌龙茶特色在于耐冲泡，所以需要较老的叶子。东方美人嫩芽采摘确实独特。我们用紫砂茶壶和过滤水在 90°C 下泡茶 1 分钟，茶汤充满了浓郁的蜜香和甘蔗的甜味。
Qing dynasty scholar He Yi Xing noted that the few famous teas were none other than Long Jing in Zhejiang, Jie Tea in the south of Yangtze River, and Wuyi tea from Fujian. During the Song dynasty, the royal tea garden was located at Bei Yuan. During Yuan dynasty, another garden at the meandering Jiu Qu Brooke of at Wuyi mountain was chosen, which is now a tourist attraction site. Heavy harvesting caused the soil to be depleted and tea trees to be exhausted, causing a reduction in quality and forcing tea production to stop during the Ming dynasty. Production was resumed in the Qing dynasty. It is said that in Wuyi Mountain, there are 900 cultivars from natural mutation and crossbreeding. Today, 2 cultivars are most commonly cultivated, namely Rou Gui and Shui Xian. From The New Journal of Chong An County (Chong An being the old name for the city of Wuyi Mountain), it was recorded that the rou gui was first found at Hui Yuan Yan. Qianlong Emperor is again featured here, when he composed a poem when he was brewing tea on a winter night, praising that Wuyi tea was the best, with clean aroma and a “bump” at the throat when the tea was swallowed. Indeed, the clean aroma of flowers on a deep and thick mouthfeel is the feature of Wuyi rock tea. In Rou Gui, the floral aroma is shared with cinnamon notes, hence it is directly called Cinnamon in Chinese. We brewed this old tea at 6 gm using Authority zisha tea pot, using 95°C for 1 min to a thick amber colour. Beside the classic flavour, we detected some vanilla cream as well.
清代学者赫懿行考“茶之名者，有浙之龙井，江南之芥片，闽之武夷云”（名茶莫过于浙江龙井、江南芥茶、福建武夷茶）。宋代御茶园位于福建北苑。元代，武夷四曲溪设御茶园，现成旅游胜地。大量采摘导致山竭土枯，质量下降迫使明代时御茶园生产停止，清代恢复生产。据说，武夷山有900个自然突变和杂交的品种。今天，最普遍种植的有两个品种，即肉桂和水仙。 《崇安县新志》（崇安为武夷山市的旧称）记载，肉桂最早是在慧苑岩发现的。乾隆帝再次登场，他在《冬夜烹茶》御诗中赞叹 “武夷品最佳,气味清和兼骨鲠”。确实，清优的花香和醇厚的口感是武夷岩茶的特色。而肉桂岩茶又带有桂皮香气，因而得名。我们使用秦权壶（紫砂壶）冲泡6 克老茶，使用 95°C 一分钟至浓稠的琥珀色。除了经典风味，我们还发现了一些香草奶油的香气。