Monday, November 02, 2009

Harney & Sons Tea Tasting: Pan Long Yin Hao and Jin Shan

I've begun the Chinese green section of Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. I recently tasted Pan Long Ying Hao and Jin Shan.
Pan Long Ying Hao

Jin Shan

The shape of the leaves for both teas is sculpted by hand. Look at them closely! They are beautiful.

If you are new to green teas, I recommend Chinese greens as an entry point. The Chinese greens are less forward and often sweeter than the vegetal Japanese greens. Harney indicates two reasons for this. First, the best Chinese greens are picked in the spring from leaflets, which include a bud and the two leaves near it. In spring, the leaves have more sugars. Second, special techniques to "fix" the teas, heated to preserve the chlorophyll, are employed. There are many ways to fix a green tea. Common Chinese ways include pan-fired in a wok or heated in an oven.

I brewed both teas at 175 degrees for two minutes. Pan Long Ying Hao is on the left. Its liquor and flavor were both very light. In fact, I think I could have tasted it with the white teas and believed it belonged in that category. I feel quite special to be tasting this tea, because Harney points out that it is a local tea made for local drinkers. It's an obscure tea that has made it to the West. Lucky us! He doesn't even know exactly how the tea is fixed, though he expects in a hot wok.

The tea on the right, Jin Shan, was a wee bit darker in liquor. The flavor was lemony (we agreed with Harney on that) and very mildly astringent. This tea is grown in the cool mountains, in an ancient tea-growing area (between Zhejiang and Anhui). This tea is exposed to as little heat as possible, which allows it to stay sweet and light.

Harney also mentions a fascinating anecdote about the Jin Shan region. Monks from this area may have been the ones to introduce the Japanese to tea in the ninth century.


Ginger said...

thanks for sharing.

Teafan said...

I enjoy your tea reviews. Pls keep them up.

marlena said...

Nice review. I have to agree about Chinese vs. Japanese green teas. I still have a hard time with the latter, they're too biter, often tasting fishy or like spoiled greenery. But I keep trying to appreciate them. So far, most of the Chinese I like. However, it is a matter of individual taste. I know lots of people are really into Japanese green.

Angela McRae said...

I enjoyed reading this, and your photos are just lovely!

parTea lady said...

Thanks for your interesting review of these two teas.

Anonymous said...

A really sweet Chinese tea is Clouds Mist, as long as it's the real stuff and not a cheaper version with that name. It's sweet because it's grown where there's so much mist on a mountaintop that little sunlight ever reaches the leaves.