First Harvest 2020 Green Peony 头采绿牡丹
March 23, 2020 - April 10, 2020
The Green Peony is a very special tea to us; made by a tea maker we highly respect, Mr. Tang. In 1999, he decided to leave his job in the big city of Kunming to start a small tea farm in Jinggu. With the help of a few villagers, he planted hundreds of tea trees. He insisted on following organic farming methods, without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. His insistence on doing everything himself extends to the manure he uses for his tea trees - he now raises around 40 sheeps and makes sheep manure himself. When we visited his tea farm in April of last year, we immediately fell in love. It was the most serene, clean and beautiful tea farm we have visited thus far.
The Green Peony—which Mr. Tang named himself—is a first harvest white tea, handpicked from the leaves of his Jinggu Dabai tea trees which are 14 years old this year. Each year, he is only able to make limited amounts of it, depending on the weather and the number of tea pickers he could find to help him with harvesting.
The season for this tea only lasts around 2 weeks a year. The picking and processing has to be finished before the Qing Ming Festival, which is usually in the beginning of April - when the climate is drier, and the moisture content in air is lower. The hotter and drier climate leads to a shorter withering time for the fresh leaves, and is what gives Green Peony its distinct and pronounced floral notes. The leaves are then withered indoors for 60 hours and when the moisture content reaches 20-30%, the leaves are scattered thinly on bamboo mats, and dried under the sun for a few hours each day when the sunlight is not strong.
Finally, the dry tea is aged in large ceramic vessels for two weeks - this process takes away the astringency.
Mr. Tang was only able to make 15kg of Green Peony this year due to the ongoing drought in Yunnan. But the tea is delicious as usual - the liquor is thick with a slight broth and syrupy texture. It has notes of fresh apricots, plum blossoms, and finishes with a honey sweetness. The aromas are refreshing and floral - like taking a walk with the many blossoms in mid-spring.