Melon Flake 2024


齐头山六安瓜片 黄片

April 2024

Qitoushan, Lu’an, Anhui 

It is always thrilling to receive a fresh harvest of this tea. There isn’t any other green tea like it, and we couldn’t compare it to anything else but itself. 

This year’s harvest is as striking visually as last years: the mottled faces of the broad, large pieces of leaf revitalize in the gaiwan. Their refreshing, smoky aroma describes the meticulous process by which they were slowly roasted over the charcoal from blue oak trees.

The taste of this harvest leans much further into the floral and saline side of Melon Flake’s complex character. Whereas last year we were struck by its tropical fruitiness, this year we are invited to admire its intertidal bouquet. All of the robust, salt-air and sun soaked flowers that grow next to the ocean are here: it’s something like a mermaid’s crown. 

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Melon Flakes is a traditional tea that originated from deep within “The Inner Mountain" of Lu'an Guapian, known as “Bat Cave.” Across from Bat Cave is Qitou Mountain, or “Flat Head,” recognizable from afar by its flattened top. This is where our Melon Flakes is from: it grows in a tea garden right on the flat top of Qitou.  

The only way to access this peak is by climbing up stone steps for roughly two hours. It is a remote and relatively cool area; after the Qingming Festival tea in Lu’an is only just beginning to sprout. When it does, the elderly women who live in the nearby village travel by foot to harvest the tea from the peak. They carry it down with them on their shoulders to where it can be processed.  

Guapian, or “Melon Flakes,”  is the only Chinese tea made entirely from leaves. There are no buds or stems in this tea, and thus it looks noticeably different from every other green tea: it is broad and flattened into flakes, with slightly upturned corners, like slices of melon – hence, the name. 

The entire process of crafting traditional Melon Flakes takes two full weeks. Considering what it takes to create it, that it is still done at all is quite miraculous. But Melon Flakes stands in a category of its own. 

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Brewing guide

The key to brewing this tea is to use boiling water, and fast infusions, starting at 10 seconds.

Tea 3 g
Water 120 ml
Steep time 10 - 60 sec
No. of infusions 6-8

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