Chinese green tea categories


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Chinese green tea categories

Postby Evan Draper » Nov 23rd, '12, 18:23

Would anyone care to propound their system of Chinese green tea categorization? It has long been my understanding that Chinese green tea is a highly variable, regional affair, and every county has their own local style. Nevertheless, there are some old standbys and new innovators that seem to have lined up several imitations behind them in categories of sorts. Are there variables of plant, cultivation, and/or production that are useful to you for making sense of the Chinese green universe?
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Re: Chinese green tea categories

Postby Evan Draper » Dec 7th, '12, 12:52

Guess not.
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Re: Chinese green tea categories

Postby Chip » Dec 7th, '12, 13:01

It has been too long since I was dedicated to drinking Chinese greens ... sorry. Perhaps you can report back with any findings you come up with!
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Re: Chinese green tea categories

Postby Tead Off » Dec 12th, '12, 01:32

Evan Draper wrote:Would anyone care to propound their system of Chinese green tea categorization? It has long been my understanding that Chinese green tea is a highly variable, regional affair, and every county has their own local style. Nevertheless, there are some old standbys and new innovators that seem to have lined up several imitations behind them in categories of sorts. Are there variables of plant, cultivation, and/or production that are useful to you for making sense of the Chinese green universe?

Not sure what you mean by categorization. Other than geographical, by taste? by look?
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Re: Chinese green tea categories

Postby Evan Draper » Dec 14th, '12, 13:51

It's in the eye of the beholder, really. What do you find the most meaningful when distinguishing lucha: cultivar, manufacturing process, leaf grade/pluck, terroir...?

For example, I've heard "yunwu" used to refer to a category or style of teas. Now, does this refer only to a microclimate of misty mountain slopes, or are there other characteristics like leaf style that yunwu teas have in common? Is yunwu a useful classification, or is it simply a marketing term that gets thrown around a lot?

For teas like wulong and puerh, production is confined to a smaller geographic area, so a lot of variables line up in predictable constellations. E.g., 1) tieguanyin IS a specific cultivar, 2) IS rolled in ball-style, and 3) IS grown in a canonical area. You can oxidize/roast it several different ways, but it's still TGY. Change 3) by too much and it's likely to be called imitation TGY. Change 1) or 2) and it's likely to be called a completely different tea.

So, are we truly looking at a largely random distribution of all these variables in lucha? Are there patterns or correlations? If not, which variables are the most useful for making distinctions?

Every time I make a post like this I anticipate all the people who are thinking, "just drink it, dummy," and/or "no amount of book learning can substitute for tasting it." So let me reiterate that I agree that the taste experience is the ultimate truth, but I think learning some conceptual categories before/while tasting will give you "taste understanding" that you may never have gotten in a lifetime of drinking. And please consider charitably that this belief is a necessity for those of us who can't afford a jin of everything.... :roll:
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Re: Chinese green tea categories

Postby Tead Off » Dec 15th, '12, 01:21

I think yunwu is just a descriptive term for teas grown in this type of climate. I've never paid that much attention to cultivars so can't answer you on that level. But, from the visual point of view, there are some very different types of lucha that look nothing like each other, for example:
Longqing
Tai Ping Hou Kui
Bi Luo Chun
Sparrow's tongue

These are just 4 green tea types that look very different from each other and taste differently. I am using the term Sparrow's tongue to denote a group of green teas made in different parts of China that show leaves of a small, delicate shape. Many provinces have their own versions and grades of this tea. I'm not even sure that the Chinese have inventoried all the different types of green tea grown there. I've drunk green teas I've never seen offered for sale from the more visible online vendors. This is a very deep area and green tea is probably drunk more than any other type of Chinese teas by the Chinese, I think.
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Re: Chinese green tea categories

Postby debunix » Dec 15th, '12, 14:46

I suspect that my first response to your post was similar to many others--Chinese green teas are so diverse and my exposure to them so limited that I don't feel qualified to say anything systematic or definitive about it.

I've discovered teas I just love, and then tried teas that sounded and looked similar and not found anything like the same flavors. And they change so quickly over time that sampling then buying a larger quantity of the same exact tea does not guarantee that the initial enjoyment will be sustained at the same level. So I read the descriptions, buy teas from vendors whose descriptions I can translate pretty accurately into whether or not I'll enjoy a tea (this advantage is one of the reasons I tend to order over and over from some of the same vendors), try not to overbuy no matter how good the tea sounds, and then mostly I can figure out ways to enjoy the tea I get.
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