C is for Chun Mee

chinese-neon-2-1327991

It is also called Chun Mei, Zhen Mei, Mee Cha, and Precious Eyebrows

Chun Mee tea is a “famous” Chinese Green tea, which means that it is extremely popular and revered in China. “Famous Teas” change all the time, depending on trends within China, however, Chun Mee is a regular contender for this coveted title.  This traditional green tea from the Anhui Province, in China is, a quintessential look at Chinese green teas.  It is nicknamed “Precious Eyebrow Tea” because of the shape of it’s leaves. Originally, Chun Mee was called ‘Famous Plum’ because of its delightfully smooth, plummy flavor and also because it was first produced in a place called Shangmeizhou, whose name translates as “Upper Plum Village”.  It is said to be the daily green tea choice for most of China for over 400 years.

Eyebrow teas…

Are a group of unique green teas known for the shape of the processed dry tea leaf.  The fresh tea leaves of Chun Mei are picked under the strict requirement of one bud with one leaf or one bud with two leaves.  Leaves of a very consistent size and shape are plucked early in the year “Yu-tsien”, before the rainy season sets in (before Grain Rain), to ensure the best taste, offering a smooth, sweet aftertaste that this tea is famed for.  Any of the eyebrow teas picked “Yu-tsien” or before the rains are considered higher quality and will make a liquor that is smoother, more complex, and more fragrant.

Great skill is required to process this tea …

Temperature, length of time and hand movements must be well -coordinated. After steaming and withering, each leaf or leaf-bud set is hand-rolled into a tiny needle-like shape with a slight curve or curl in it.  It is said that the finished leaf should be as small and narrow as the eyebrows like that on the face of a porcelain doll.  The fine, taut, jade green eyebrow shaped leaves have been likened to a work of art.  Chun Mee tea is the most popular eyebrow variety.

Where it is produced…

Jiangxi1

http://www.chinafolio.com/provinces/jiangxi-province/

According to the Anhui Province Board, the direct ancestor of these teas is the Anhui green tea from the Ming Dynasty in the 1600’s.  As the hand-processing for the eyebrow shape became perfected, this high -quality tea swept through all China to become the favorite drink.  It is still one the most popular green tea varieties in China.  Originally it was produced only in the Jiang Xi province. Jiang Xi is located on the Western side of China and is surrounded by the Wuyuan mountains on three sides and sits comfortably in a subtropical climate, making it an excellent area for growing tea. Today it is also grown in Zhejiang, Anhui, Yunnan and Hunan.

Chun Mee Processing…

The way in which the leaves are shaped for different green teas is very complicated and involves several stages… Chun Mee takes 25 different steps to produce, including 10 different movements of the hands to shape, press and turn the leaves and buds during production.

This roughly translates as: Shaking, Piling Up, Holding, Pressing Down, Tossing, Grabbing, Pushing, Covering, Pressing and Rubbing.  These movements subtly change the taste, liquor color and aroma of the finished tea, as well as its shape.  The leaves are originally little fat immature tea buds, with the white downy hairs still on the bud, and the hand movements, temperature and time spent making this tea combine to make this beautiful, uniform twist to the finished tea.

Next… Chun Mee in the Cup!

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