shrumpkin wrote:Jade Oolongs are amazing, and sometimes I feel like the longer roasted ones, like Ti Guan Yin, which borderline on a Darjeeling taste.
Coming, literally from the land of Tieguanyin — I'm in Xiamen, South Fujian — the best Tieguanyin — by the way, it should really have the "e" as it is pronounced "tiyeh" in Standard Chinese — comes from Anxi just over the border in Quanzhou — there are three "cities" in the Minnan, South Fujian Area, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou, in all of which Tieguanyin is produced, but Anxi tea is grown at a higher elevation than those in Xiamen and Zhangzhou. Tieguanyin was developed in the 18th century, I believe, and is the origin of the Chinese tea ceremony ... I will not join in an argument over the Japanese tea ceremony being developed from that, though it is well possible, since the Japanese borrowed Chinese culture wholesale ... but the Koreans claim that much, if not the whole, of Chinese culture came originally from them!
The standard Oolong comes from the Wuyishan area, in North Fujian. Of the varieties of Oolong, you might find Dahongpao; if you do, unless very expensive indeed, it will probably be "third generation". First generation Dahongpao comes from only 6 trees, which are not picked every year, and are not trimmed into bushes. I believe they were planted for the Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century. The tea from those trees is reserved for the government to be given as a present to visiting Heads of State, but in 2006, 20 grammes came onto the open market ... it was sold for 200,000 RMB, US$30,000. Some 2,000 "mu", 300 acres, was gradually planted over the last couple of decades with cuttings from the 6 trees. In 2006, as a guest in Wuyishan of the Provincial Government, I was able to buy 1/2 pound of second generation Dahongpao, at 3,000 RMB/pound, US$450+ — prepared properly it is absolutely fabulous. Third generation is being grown on 20,000 mu, 3,000 acres, from cuttings from the second generation bushes.
Also from Wuyishan is Zhongshan Xiaozhong, known to us as Lapsang Suchong — a corruption of the local dialect pronunciation of the name. A fully fermented tea — Oolong and Tieguanyin are semi-fermented — if you don't know it, it has a delightful smoky taste.
The best green tea is reckoned to be Longjing (Dragon well) from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.
Darjeeling, as I understand was originally produced from Oolong plants smuggled out of North Fujian and cured in the Oolong style, hence the similarity in taste.
Keemun, for those who know it, is from Jimen in Anhui Province, north of the Yangtze River, near the famous Huang Shan mountains.
Kaoshan tea is actually from Taiwan Island, so the Chinese will love you for saying it's from China, and those in Taiwan might not. Kaoshan tea is highly appreciated here in Xiamen.
And the record for the most expensive tea has apparently now gone to a bit of very old Pu'er from Yunnan, whose price makes the 200,000 RMB for 20 grammes of Dahongpao look pale.
You didn't want to know all that, did you!