Spring Light by Ms. Qiong
The first time we tried Ms. Qiong’s tea was almost four years ago. Mr. Tang, one of our favorite tea artisans from Jinggu, Yunnan told us enthusiastically about her remarkable story. The sensation of drinking her tea for the first time lingered with us for a long time. I don’t recall ever drinking a tea quite like it; the pureness, the soft yet piercing energy. Since then, we have been asking Ms. Qiong every year for her teas, but she just could not produce enough. Last year, for the first time ever, she sent us an extremely small amount of her white tea, and we have been waiting patiently for it to age one year to share it with you.
Read the full story and origin of Ms. Qiong's journey in natural farming here.
Unlike most tea craftsmen, Ms. Qiong’s foray into tea making was not for the love of tea. Her intention was to restore and enhance the vitality of the soil and land in her hometown village.
Ms. Qiong’s hometown is Xiufeng Village in Fu’an County of Fujian Province, where the history of tea cultivation spans hundreds of years. She grew up watching her father and mother harvest and make tea. She says the tea farming practices of today are vastly different from what they were when she was young. “When I was young, our tea trees were not sprayed with pesticides and we did not use chemical fertilizers. There were not many pests. I just think that our present day farming practices are too destructive for the Earth. I hope the soil and earth can return to its natural, balanced state.“
She firmly believes the key to our future lies in reconnecting ourselves with nature: living and farming in accordance with nature’s principles. Guided by this pure intention, she adopted natural farming methods to care for her tea garden and the crafting of her teas. She simply wants to make use of the decades old deserted tea garden that her father left her to make clean, radiant and delicious tea.
Her teas are made with faith and conviction, yielding a tea that is simple, clean, and soft with an unwavering stamina.
In the spring season, she harvests during the daytime and crafts the tea at night. It is extremely labour intensive, but it is the only way she wants to make her tea. Since she tends to the tea garden all by herself, she is only able to produce a very limited amount of tea each year.
The tea plants of Spring Light are Fuyun No. 7, a cultivar that was developed in the 1960’s by the Tea Research Institute of Fujian Academy of Agriculture. It is a hybrid of the Fuding Dabai varietal and Yunnan Daye varietal. The picking standard is one-bud-two-leaves. These semi-wild leaves are large and rustic, full of vitality. Some have insect-bitten holes, but nevertheless, some of the most beautiful tea leaves we have seen.
The leaves are withered naturally on bamboo trays for 72 hours in a well ventilated room indoors. Then, depending on the degree of dryness, the tea leaves are either dried naturally or baked at a low temperature.
The resulting tea is simply remarkable. Once steeped in water, the leaves turn emerald green and the stems turn a rich brown, bursting with energy. The clarity of the tea is such that the sweetness is so clear and distinct that it's hard to believe it's just from the infusion of tea leaves.
The mouthfeel is exceptionally silky and round. It has delicate and elegant floral aromatics. On the palate, it has notes of peach blossoms, almonds, and oat milk. It is creamy and sweet, with umami and depth. The whole journey of this tea lasts 15 infusions or more.