Tunxi Green Tea, Huangshan
First, a word on what distinguishes green tea from its more common sister, black tea...
Tea, or the product that is plucked as leaves from the tea plant, or camellia sinensis (think of Meryl Streep in the role of Karen Blixen, the Danish-cum-Kenyan tea plantation owner during the first quarter of the 20th century in the Hollywood film, Out of Africa), is the same whether it forms the basis of green tea or black tea. The difference lies in how the product is processed. Black tea is allowed to ferment, then dried. It yields a denser flavor which, in some varieties, can please the palate of even diehard coffee drinkers, i.e., can serve as a substitute for coffee for some.
Green tea, on the other hand, is not fermented. Hence, its flavor is lighter and more delicate, and therefore green tea more easily allows the nuances of the local flavor of camellia sinesis to shine through, since tea grown in one clime will differ from tea grown in another, just as grapes grown on one mountainside will differ from those grown on another, the main determinants for growing good tea being a humid and warm climate as well as a slightly acidic soil type. Since green tea is not fermented, it it claimed that green tea retains more of its beneficial chemicals, including anti-oxidizing agents which are believed to help delay if not prevent the degeneration of cells, which process of degeneration - in some individuals - may lead to cancer.
Tunxi Green Tea, from Tunxi County, Anhui Province (home of Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain), can be divided into two, final-stage "curing" categories: ripened tea leaves that are roasted in an oven, and ripened tea leaves that are pan-fired (this is sometimes mistakenly written/ edited as "pan-fried"), i.e., "stir-fried" in a wok (fear not, no oil is used!). Pan firing is the tea-curing technique that drives out the greatest amount of moisture and hence results in a more concentrated tea with a stronger, yet subtle taste (some have said that pan-fired green tea has a nutty flavor while others have named the nut: chestnut).
Tunxi Green Tea, also known as Tunlu tea - and sometimes referred to as Green Gold - belongs to the Top 10 Chinese green tea varieties. The finished product is a tightly rolled tea leaf with a kinked appearance that suggests an eyebrow, which distinctive feature has influenced the names of some of the sub-varieties of Tunlu tea, the main sub-varieties being (in English): Eyebrow, Precious Eyebrow, Tribute, Needle, First Rain, and Green Flake.
Where to buy: