E'Mei High Mountain Green First Harvest 2022
March 26, 2022
Hualong Village, Heibaoshan, E'Mei, Sichuan
First Harvest Green Tea, called 明前绿茶 in Chinese, is the most prestigious and precious harvest of green tea each year. Tea connoisseurs eagerly anticipate the arrival of these teas that lift us out of Winter. The Chinese name for First Harvest, 明前绿茶, translates to “Pre-Qingming,” meaning they were harvested before Qingming. Qingming, or “Pure Brightness,” is a solar term in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. There are 6 solar terms for the Spring season, starting in early February: “The Beginning of Spring”, “Rain Water”, “The Waking of Insects”, “Spring Equinox”, “Pure Brightness”, and “Grain Rain.”
This year, Pure Brightness falls on April 5th and Grain Rain starts on April 20th. Green teas harvested before Pure Brightness, “Pre-Qingming,” are considered the most precious because the weather is still notably cooler, meaning the tea leaves grow more slowly, and the number of buds are less. The trees have been dormant all Winter; these are the first sprouts of the year. These leaves will have the most nutrients in them, which intensifies the complexity and depth of their taste.
After Pure Brightness the weather grows warmer, it rains more in the mountains, and as such the tea leaves grow more quickly.
First Harvest teas offer a very special encounter with tea in its youth: with its intense greenness, and uplifting qualities.
There is a mythical mountain in Sichuan province. For many people, it is a household name that, when spoken, evokes an air of the otherworldly. This place is called E’Mei 峨眉.
There are four sacred buddhist mountains in China, E’Mei being one of them, and the highest peak. It is home to more than seventy ancient temples and is regarded by Buddhists as the place of enlightenment. Many people will know it for the well established community of monkeys that reside amongst the temples and engage with visitors of the mountain.
Tea cultivation on E’Mei dates back to the Tang Dynasty, when fresh teas from its peak were delivered to the imperial palace as Tribute Teas to the Emperor. Our High Mountain Green comes from Heibao Mountain, near Haulong Village at upwards of 3200 ft above sea level. This area, central to E’Mei, is the primary area for producing tea on this mountain – almost all the tea gardens here consist of old tea trees, planted generations ago.
The soil in Heibao is formed from porous volcanic ash, providing ideal minerals and drainage for tea trees. The elevation means that Haulong Village and the surrounding area is nearly always covered in rain or fog. It is a place that, while feeling quite unchanged, has some enchanting adaptations. 20 years ago many fruit trees were planted in and around the tea gardens here. Now the tea grows in the dappled shade of fragrant loquat and peach trees. However unusual this is, the tea benefits from their proximity, and is said to smell like flowers on account of it.
This tea is made from leaves from the first picking of the season, consisting of one bud and two leaves. This results in a richer taste – in this case, deep in flavours reminiscent of flowers and seeds – which is in line with local preference. Regionally, this tea is simply referred to as 炒青 “pan-fried green.”
In the gaiwan High Mountain Green appears dark emerald and tightly bound, before unwinding in the water into spindly, pale green leaves. This quick transformation is in line with the energy it brings with it: it is articulate, and without hesitation.
|Steep time||5 - 90 sec|
|No. of infusions||8