May 10 - May 20, 2023
Mr. Tang’s family are generational tea farmers in Laoshan Mountain of Qingdao, Shandong. Shandong is located in Northeastern China. It is named after Mount Lao, a magnificent mountain range recognized by its striking, slim, elongated cliffs.
The many small plots that make up Mr. Tang’s tea farm are scattered along this coastline, at the foot of Mount Lao. Some are distributed right along the beaches, exposed to the salty wind that blows off of the water, while others are tucked slightly up into the forested hills, protected by the pine trees and the mountain behind them. There is a great peace that settles over this area of Laoshan. The tranquility of Mr. Tang’s tea farm is resounding, and extends between its many parts. Following a path that connects the plots next to the ocean to the ones tucked away in the forest, the sound of the waves progressively gives way to the sound of forest birds and running springs and the scent of the ocean turns into the scent of red pines and green plum.
Laoshan is a very unique tea producing area in China. It is as far North as a tea region can be, and at the highest latitude before temperatures become too cold for tea trees to survive. The small farms in Laoshan have Mount Lao on one side, and are otherwise surrounded by ocean. The air is very humid, and it sees longer winters with more frost and snow than tea regions further South. Another special feature of Laoshan is that the water which irrigates the tea trees comes from natural springs that run through Mount Lao. This water is very pure and high in the minerals it collects from the cliffs of the mountain. It is no wonder we find that teas from Laoshan have such a distinct taste when compared with teas from Southern China. The mountain minerals and the constriction that comes with cooler temperatures give these teas a great richness, and the wet air coming off of the ocean has imparted umami and an unmistakable saline taste to them.
Because of the colder climate, the first harvest of Laoshan green tea is almost a month later than the first harvest of green teas from tea regions in Southern China. When the time comes, the leaves are hand harvested by Mr. Tang’s mother and grandmother, from their tea gardens that are scattered between Mount Lao and the Yellow Sea. Mr. Tang’s father and uncles, generational craftsmen who make this tea, have pan-fried it by hand in small batches in a charcoal-fired wok.
This year’s harvest brews a clear, bright liquor that looks sharp and distilled. The dried, curled leaves look like metal shavings and deliver a noticeable ‘upwards energy,’ reminding us of fresh japanese green teas, This harvest is less nutty and rich than previous ones, but maintains the warm foundation we expect from Northern Chinese teas that grow more slowly.
Teas from Laoshan often have a very soothing, chocolaty undertone, and this one is no exception. This provides a beautiful foundation for its sencha-like qualities. Intersting to note when comparing it to some of the Japanese green teas we carry, this tea grows right next to the same ocean as they do, only on the other side and at a higher elevation. We are appreciating the clearing aspects of this year’s harvest, and its direct expresion of its terroir.
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|Steep time||10 - 90 sec|
|No. of infusions||4