Liu An Gua Pian also known as Lu’an Melon Seed and Lu’an Leaf, is a green tea from Lu’an City, Anhui Province, China. It is a celebrated green tea and is listed on virtually all lists of famous Chinese teas. Liu An Gua Pian Tea has as a long history and rich cultural connotation.
According to historical texts…
Liu An Gua Pian enjoys a long and illustrious history as one of the most prized teas since the Tang Dynasty. It was first recorded in The Classic of Tea. The Classic of Tea was the first book about general tea knowledge. It was written by Lu Yu (if you remember Lu Yu was my L entry) during the Ming Dynasty. It was widely used to prevent sunstroke by the Chinese. Lu’an Melon Seed Tea was also a type of gong cha – a tribute tea. Qing Empress Dowager Ci Xi demanded 14 taels (about 37 grams per tael) of Guan Pian tea monthly for her personal consumption. This exemplary green tea was presented to Mr. Putin as a gift during his visit to China.
Where in China…
Liu An Gua Pian comes from the mist bound Qiyun mountains of Jin Zhai County, Li An City, in Anhui Province. Most of the tea growing areas are on the high slopes, all above 500 m and are surrounded by natural forests and peaks. The warm weather, abundant rainfall and rich soil texture all make for the best environment for growing tea. Green teas from Anhui Province have a “something special” about them because of the lush mountain areas in which they are grown. Unlike most green teas, where earlier harvests are prized, Liu An Gua Pian is picked around Guyu, a harvest festival that falls on April 20th, waiting until the buds mature and unfold. This later harvest is typical of green teas from Anhui, and especially for Gua Pian. Only then will they get individually picked. For this tea only, the pure leaf is used, no stems, no buds – only the secondary and tertiary leaves of a three-leaf combination is picked – the bud and stem are left on the tea plant. To obtain the characteristic melon seed shape of the finished tea, both the tip and stem edge are also slightly cropped during picking.
Once the tea leaves are withered a bit and become pliable, they are fired in woks to stop the oxidation. During the final step — the fire drying, the leaves get roasted directly over a wood fire. The use of an open fire is a uniquely vigorous step. It is physically demanding for the tea makers, who must move the tea leaves over the fire for only seconds at a time. Once the tea roasts for a few seconds, it is briefly lifted off to cool. Then the process is repeated. Altogether, this on-and-off drying requires about sixty repetitions. Note…The name references the flat, oval shape of the leaf which is said to look like a melon seed. However, that shape is more evident before the manufacturing of the tea than after. Sometimes one still might recognize the seed shape in the final product. All of these factors and techniques put together result in this seriously complex green tea.
Next… Liu An Gua Pian in my cup