J is for Jiu Qu Hong Mei

Jiu Qu Hong Mei is an exceedingly rare and celebrated tea from the Zhejiang Province of China, first developed in 1926. “Jiu Qu Hong Mei” literally translates as Nine Winding Red Plum. It is so called because of the “red plum”/”Hong Mei” color of the brew that it produces. Jiu Qu Hong Mei is an exceptional tea that rivals other high -quality teas since it is picked by the “two leaves and a bud” principle. Zhejiang Province has approximately 28 types of notable teas and they are almost all green teas (such as Dragon Well Longjing, etc.). Jiu Qu Hong Mei is the only black tea. Jiu Qu Hong Mei and Longjing tea are called “one green and one red” or “emerald (Longjing tea) and agate (Jiu Qu Hong Mei)”. The tea finally achieved notice worldwide in 1995, when it was mentioned in Wang Zufeng’s popular novel, “A Magnificent Tree of the South.”

The West Lake Region Climate

Jiu Qu Hong Mei mainly grows in the towns and mountains around the West Lake region of the province. There the climate is warm, humid, and foggy, which we know are ideal conditions for the growth of tea trees. There, the trees are untampered and minus city pollution, which characteristically produces a taste that is pure, crisp, and refreshing, much unlike many tea garden teas.  The sandy soil is deep and fertile, with good permeability. This unique ecological environment contributes to the formation and accumulation of amino acids, proteins, and aromatics that are present in tea. The best picking season and processing is before the Chinese Qing Ming Festival. Qing Ming Festival, also called Tomb Sweeping Day or, literally, ‘Pure Brightness’ Festival in English, is a traditional Chinese festival and an important day for most people (including the Han Chinese and some of China’s 55 other ethnic minorities) to go and sweep tombs and commemorate their ancestors. On this day, tomb sweeping is one of the most important and popular activities to show respect to ancestors. It usually falls on April 4 or 5. In 2021, the festival falls on April 4, the same day as Easter. The Public holiday in China is from April 3rd to April 5th, 2021. It is an unusual black tea as it comes from the Long Jing Cultivar but is a fully oxidized black tea.

Next… Jiu Qu Hong Mei in my cup.

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