Nan Jing Yu Hua Cha is a particularly unique green tea that comes from the city of Nan Jing in the Jiangsu Province, China. Nan Jing is one of China’s tea capitals, with specialist tea markets brimming with hundreds of aromatic varieties. Nan Jing Yu Hua Cha translates to Rain Flower Tea and is so called because the tea leaves are harvested from within the Rain Flower Terrace area. Rain Flower Terrace is a major tourist spot in Nanjing and is rich in historical monuments as well as natural scenery. A grand Nan Jing Yu Hua Tea Festival is held every April, to publicize this very special Rain Flower Tea. It stands out from various kinds of green tea in China for its elegant name, extraordinary taste and unique charm.
Legend has it, a legendary monk, Yunguang, preached the doctrines of Buddhism here. The monk was so eloquent that the heavenly God was moved by his preach and rain flowers like a shower, hence the name “Rain Flower Terrace”. Nan Jing Yu Hua holds a special place in Chinese society and it is traditionally given as a gift and it is the tea of choice for many government officials.
This region, Jiangsu Province is subtropical and very suitable for tea growing, with its mild climate, fertile soil, and abundant rainfall. Nan Jing Yu Hua is processed very carefully and is totally handmade and there are fewer that ten tea masters in the area that have the necessary skill set and experience to produce the namesake shape of the tea. The pine needle shaped leaves are considered a challenging shape to make of any green tea. Early tender buds flushed in the mornings are chosen, and an experienced tea harvester may only be able to harvest about one pound of raw leaves a day. The newly plucked leaves have to be properly kept to avoid sunshine. Fired completely by hand in a hot, dry wok of over 100 degrees Celsius, the entire process takes about an hour. Only a certain type of cultivar of fresh leaf will form to this tea’s shape. It takes a master to form the shape without breaking the leaf or burning the tips or any of the other problems that can ruin fresh leaves if they are handled improperly. The finished leaves – their appearance and taste truly show the terroir of the tea and the influence of experience and craft on the finished tea.
Today, rain flower tea wins great popularity at both home and abroad, especially in Japan and Southeast Asia where people give it as a precious gift to relatives and friends.
I found a poem that offers the criteria for a perfect Nan Jing Yu Hua tea.
Straight spine blade-like taper,
Thin and pointy like hair,
White fuzz and green balance each other,
Round bottom like one end of the pine needle.
Next…Nan Jing Yu Hua in my cup