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, a raw pu'er tea and a wulong tea, namely:
- 2017 Mo Lie raw black loose leaf tea (2017 勐库镇磨烈生普洱散茶), 6 gm [Awaiting release]
- 2020 Wu San Di Shuixian wulong tea (吴三地水仙), 6 gm [Unlisted]
- 2022春 黄山毛峰绿茶, 6克 [未上市]
- 2017 勐库镇磨烈生普洱散茶, 6克 [即将上市]
- 2020 吴三地水仙乌龙, 6克 [未上市]
We start this month’s tea drinking with a green tea. It is a modern royal tea, being included as an official diplomatic gift of the Chinese government. Huang Shan is situated in a larger historical tea region - Huang Shan on the south-eastern corner of An Hui province, and Huo Shan and Lu’An on the north-western corner and Jingdezhen famous for porcelain on the southern side of the province. Further northwest from Huoshan is the Xinyang in Henan province, which is famous for Xin Yang Mao Jian (信阳毛尖) - a royal tribute tea during the Tang dynasty. When tea sage Lu Yu (陆羽) was compiling his Classic of Tea (茶经) during the Tang dynasty, he included this area as one of eight tea producing regions. Surely, this tea benefits from the good terroir and processing techniques since ancient times.
这个月, 我们先喝绿茶。黄山毛峰是一款现代皇家茶，被中国外交部定为“礼品茶”。黄山位于历史名茶区 - 安徽省东南角有黄山，西北角有霍山和六安，南部有瓷都景德镇。从霍山再往西北是河南省的信阳，这里以唐代皇家贡茶“信阳毛尖”而闻名。唐代茶圣陆羽在撰写《茶经》时，将这区列为八大茶区之一。当然，这种茶得益于该地区自古以来的良好风土和制茶技术。
Before the French described wine regions by means of ‘terroir’, the Chinese have been studying the interrelationship of man and environment since Zhou dynasty, producing the I Ching (易经) and related studies of Fengshui (风水). Perhaps influenced by these ancient philosophies, ancient Chinese strive to achieve a deep understanding of nature and to present that as itself. One can better appreciate this from the ancient tea making. It is believed that the first teas made were either white or green teas. Understandably, white tea involves the least processing step – sun and air drying with minimal processing; and green tea – preserving the ‘green state’ as soon as possible by stopping oxidation fast through an early ‘Kill Green’ (杀青). This is the reason why Parchmen & Co always start with the green tea process during tea classes and we explain that other processes are deviations from this basic process.
Huang Shan Cloud and Mist Tea (黄山云雾茶) is believed to have evolved to become the Huang Shan Mao Feng green tea. Very direct in its nomenclature, ‘cloud and mist’ denotes its growing environment of high grounds, diffused sunlight and low temperature, all of which are ideal growing conditions for umami-laden, light and floral teas. Huang Shan Mao Feng in its current form was created and marketed by tea brand Xie Yu Tea Shop’s owner Xie Zheng An in 1875. He chose the most tender and fattest tea buds to make tea. A tender bud displays fine hair (‘mao’, botanically called trichomes) and the fat buds are shaped like a mountain peaks ('feng'), leading to it being called "hairy peak". It was exported to Shanghai and immediately became popular with the westerners who resided there, setting the stage for overseas export. When the author was in Paris recently and stopping by famous tea salon Mariage Frères, he ordered this tea using the Chinese accent and the young French waiter understood it immediately from the 1000 teas in the tea menu, hinting at how popular the tea is in France. This tea on feature is this year’s spring harvest and is well-sought after internationally.
黄山云雾茶被认为是黄山毛峰的前身。黄山云雾茶命名非常直接，“云雾”表示其高地、漫射阳光和低温的生长环境，所有这些都是产生鲜味和优雅花香的理想生长条件。如今的黄山毛峰是“谢裕大茶号”谢正安于1875年创造和销售的。他选择了最嫩最肥的茶芽来制茶。嫩芽有细毛，肥芽形似山峰，故称“毛峰”。“谢裕大茶号”将黄山毛峰销售至上海，广受当地洋人喜爱，奠定了外销的基础。笔者在巴黎，路过著名茶沙龙 Mariage Frères 时，用中国口音点了这款茶，年轻的法国服务员竟能马上从1000只茶的茶单上辨认此茶，暗示了这款茶在法国的受欢迎程度。此茶是今年春茶，是国际上抢手的名茶。
We used our Parchmen Tea Evaluator Set to brew the 2022 Spring Huang Shan Mao Feng, at 3 gm to 150 ml at a rather high temperature of 90°C for 45 sec, using filtered water. It brews a pale yellowish colour with sweet, floral and vibrant flavours on a syrupy mouthfeel.
我们使用我们的百茶门审评杯冲泡 2022 年春黄山毛峰，以 3 克与 150 毫升 90°C 过滤水的冲泡 45秒，汤色淡黄，带有甜美、花香和充满活力的味道，口感如糖浆。
Next, we drink a puer tea from the new producing areas of Yunnan. Tribute teas were produced at the six historical regions (故六大茶山) on the east of Lancang River (澜沧江). Since 1980s, Hong Kong and Taiwan merchants returned to Yunnan and rediscover ancient villages from these six historical regions as well as villages on the west of Lancang River which have continued to produce teas in the historical manner. These villages on the west of Lancang River are located along mountain ranges and villages that have gained international fame recently for producing teas of astronomical value - Bang Dong (邦东) which includes Xi Gui (昔归) and Bang Ma Da Xue Shan (邦马大雪山) which includes Bing Dao (冰岛/丙岛/扁岛). As a case in point, in 2018, one kilogram of Bing Dao unsorted tea from young trees are selling at SGD 600, one kilogram of Bing Dao unsorted tea from older trees of at least 50 years old are selling at SGD 1,400 and one kilogram of Bing Dao unsorted tea from ancient trees (usually 100 years) are selling at SGD 8,000. Such prices would have matched the prices of royal tribute teas of all times, if not very much overmatch.
接下来，我们喝一款云南新茶区的普洱茶。贡茶产于澜沧江以东的六大历史区域（即六大茶山）。 1980年代以来，港台商人重回云南，重新发现古茶村古茶树，除了古六大茶区以外还有位于澜沧江以西的村寨，一时造就了如今以天价茶而享誉国际的山脉和村寨 - 邦东山，其中包括昔归和邦马大雪山，其中包括冰岛（或丙岛、扁岛）。天价是什么概念？在 2018 年，一公斤冰岛幼树毛茶售价为 600 新元，一公斤冰岛老树（通常为树龄50年以上）毛茶售价为 1,400 新元，一公斤冰岛古树（通常为树龄100年以上）毛茶售价为 8,000 新元。这样的价格比起古代贡茶的价格有过之而无不及。
Not all hopes are lost that commoners do not have access to these good teas. It is interesting how the Bing Dao tea region expands for the purpose of riding on the bandwagon. The tea region extends radially outward from Bingdao village (冰岛老寨), it being authentic Bingdao or Bingdao 1st ring (冰岛一环). From here, Bingdao 2nd ring includes Di Jie (地界), Nan Po (南迫), Bai Wai (坝歪), Nuo Wu (糯伍); Bingdao 3rd ring includes Xiao Hu Village (小户赛) and Mo Lie (磨烈); Bingdao 4th ring includes Zheng Qi Tang (大忠山正气塘), Bao Mao Di (包麦地), etc. Tea in feature today is 3rd ring Mo Lie.
Mo Lie is situated at around 1,750 m with stable and cool temperature of 20°C throughout the year with high rainfall slightly lesser than Singapore. It has a good amount of ancient trees above 300 years old, thus producing a tea that has strength and energy, termed as Cha Qi (茶气). Also because of this, it carries a slight bitter base as compared to authentic Bingdao. Its aroma and sweetness seem lacking in its first brew but builds up gradually from the second brew.
When you open the tea packet and smell the fragrance, you will be hit by the surprising fragrance of dried cranberries and prunes. Using our Parchmen Tea Evaluator Set, we brew with 90°C filtered water using 3 gm of tea and 100 gm of water (2/3 cup). To experience the tea’s full energy, use 1 min brewing time. For a soft, lingering fruity aroma and sweetness, use 0.5 min. Once you empty the cup, open the lid to let the tea leaves cool down, when the brewed leaves will present the same notes of cranberries and prunes as when it is dry. In the cup, the aroma is rain and forest, signifying its wild environment and old age. The bold flavour will subsequently taper to softness as you continue to brew. No matter the profile, the flavours are a product of its unique time scale, terroir and history. It is wonderful to enjoy such a tea in the comfort of your home without the price and posh of a luxurious restaurant.
当你打开茶包，扑鼻的便是蔓越莓干和李子干的香味。使用我们的百茶门审评杯，我们使用 3 克茶和 100 克水（2/3 杯）用 90°C 过滤水冲泡。使用 1 分钟冲泡时间能充分体验磨烈的茶气。要柔和、持久的果香和甜味，使用 0.5 分钟冲泡。出汤后，打开盖子让茶叶冷却后便能闻到干茶相同的蔓越莓和李子的香气。口中的香气似雨水和森林，是野生环境和老茶树的味道。续杯后，茶气会随之变柔。不管怎样的味道，都是其独特的时间尺度、风土和历史的产物。在舒适的家中品茗此茶而无需豪华餐厅的价格，真是太好了。
The last tea this month is a shuixian wulong tea from Fujian province. Guangdong province also produces a shuixian tea, but this is a different cultivar with different history albeit the same name. Fujian shuixian is usually broader in width and shorter, while Guangdong shuixian is longer and skinnier. Historically, there are four types of shuixian teas in Fujian grouped under the two geographical demarcations of north and south - Min Bei Shui Xian (闽北水仙), meaning Shui Xian from north of Fujian (known as ‘Min’ during ancient times) includes Jian Yang Shui Xian (建阳水仙) and Wu Yi Shui Xian(武夷水仙), and Min Nan Shui Xian (闽南水仙, meaning Shui Xian from south of Fujian) includes Yong Chun Shui Xian (永春水仙) and Zhang Ping Shui Xian (漳平水仙). During the Qing dynasty, Min Bei Shui Xian was a royal tribute tea. The shuixian tea today is from Wu San Di (吴三地) as part of the production area of Wuyi Mountain.
Wu San Di is a natural village at 1,200 m elevation at the north-western part of the Wuyi Mountain protected area outside the actual mountain. It has only 60 families, with 80% having Wu as their surname. This is because they are descendants of the famous warlord Wu San Gui (吴三桂) who failed in his uprising against the Qing emperor Kang Xi. His three brothers escaped eastwards towards Fujian, hid inside the misty terrains of Wuyi Mountain and became tea farmers. Wu San Di (吴三弟) which meant the three brothers of the Wu family slowly became the present name of the area, meaning the three lands of the Wu family (吴三地).
Underlying this ancient story of 300 years is the natural stock of over 2,000 trees which are more than 100 years old in Wu San Di. These trees are of the shuixian cultivar which are semi-arbor trees, imparting an elegant wooden note to the tea produced from it. This note is even more pronounced if the trees are old. Furthermore, the village has high humidity which promotes the growth of moss on the tea trees, further imparting the characteristic ‘moss’ aroma to the tea. As such, Wu San Di is an ideal location for the cultivation of shuixian tea. This is the reason why shuixian tea from Wu San Di can be successfully sold under its own name instead of under the brand name of Wuyi Mountain. This is against the backdrop of the dominating fame and price point of Wuyi Mountain outshining other production areas such that teas from other areas are simply labelled broadly as Wuyi Mountain teas.
这个 300 年的古老故事的背后是吴三地2,000 多棵树龄超过 100 年的茶树。这些树是水仙品种，是半乔木，老树孕育了水仙茶的丛香或木质香。吴三地高湿度，茶树上长满苔藓，赋予水仙茶独特的青苔味。因此，乌三地是种植水仙茶的理想之地。这就是为什么吴三地水仙能够以自己的名义成功销售。要知道，武夷山正山的名气和价格远胜周边产区，其他产区的茶叶常以武夷山的品牌名义销售。
We brew this tea using the gongfu style at 6 gm using Authority zisha tea pot (capacity 200 ml), using 90°C for 0.5 min to a dark copper colour. It brews a caramel aroma at the start, stabilising to a roastiness accompanied by the classic wooden and mossy aroma for subsequent brews, as well as jasmine and sour plums aroma. This tea has high stamina and you can brew 7 times or more.
我们使用工夫茶的形式冲泡，用秦权壶（紫砂壶，容量 200 毫升）以 6 克茶叶和90°C过滤水泡30 秒。茶汤深铜色，始为焦糖味，火香沉水底，伴随着经典木质和苔藓香气，以及茉莉和酸梅的香气。此茶耐泡，可冲泡7次以上。
Thank you for savouring the world with Parchmen & Co!