CloudFeather™ is one of the most special green teas that Tea Trekker will have again in 2021!
And this is saying quite a bit, because this season has once again produced outstanding examples of several of our favorite premium green teas, such as Lu’An Guapian, Tai Ping Hou Kui, An Ji Bai Cha, Mengding Mountain Mao Feng (an awesomely delicious tea!), Nepal Himalaya Shiba Green (quite possibly the finest lot of this tea that has ever been made!?!), and others yet to be sourced.
Many years ago, our good friend and tea enthusiast, the late William Merwin really wanted to name several teas for us. He appreciated that most exceptional teas were simply named for their place-of-origin, or shape, or colorway. However, being a poet (one of the best!), and an adventurist traveler, this type of name didn’t really inspire or reflect what a particular tea might offer to the drinker, (especially an artistic tea enthusiast!) and so he argued for much more interesting English names for teas. This was difficult to argue against, as some famous Chinese tea’s Chinese names are representative of a more interesting connotation, in this fashion (such as ‘guapian‘).
So we came to a middle ground regarding several teas that did not have as their place of origin anywhere exotic, or exceptional, or with a beautiful ‘shan‘ (Mountain) place name, or even one that most people would recognize. And we were fortunate enough to have William, who at that time was our in-coming Poet Laureate, name several Tea Trekker teas for us.
One of the names that he provided us with was ‘CloudFeather™‘. We do not use this name every year, and only use it to name particularly special, unique teas that we want to feature and be sure that our enthusiastic green tea customers notice. The name will not always refer to the same tea (even if in different years) but will ‘float’ among those most special and distinctive offerings that present themselves in limited quantities from time to time. William would want me to let you, the tea drinker, ruminate on why this name is an appropriate one for a Spring Green Tea, and while you do, let us briefly describe this year’s 2021 version, with its beautiful large leaf and abundance of tips.
The varietal used for this tea encourages its budset to grow quickly to a long length, develop a deep flavor, and show subtle nuance and complexity. It almost appears ‘leggy‘. So I like to think of it as the ‘Twiggy’ of the tea world: being, leaf that makes you take notice because of its unique physical profile, followed by a significant style difference from most other green teas (although reminiscent of Anji Bai Pian), and then it demands attention to detail when being appreciated for its unique visual appeal.
The elements of steeping: quantity of leaf, water temperature, ratio of leaf to water, and ‘time in the water’ are all critical for a tea such as this. It is a wonderful combination of simplicity in its purest form, like really, really great Italian or Chinese food (minimalism and simplicity: showing off purity of flavor and finesse in the cup) together with that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that a very few foods or beverages deliver, so that ultimately there is so much going on within the simplicity that the flavor seems complex, even though it is not!.
Can you grasp that we are quite fond of this tea?
Speaking for myself, I think that last year’s and this year’s CloudFeather just might be the finest Spring Green tea (Chinese) that I have tasted this century?! rjh
Traditionally-grown in the tea-growing area of Guizhou Province at the point at which the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan meet in southwestern China, the Tea Trekker 2021 CloudFeather™ green tea is most definitely from Guizhou Province. The location of the gardens is a major influence on the developed flavor of this tea, as the terroir is particularly pleasant throughout this region. We taste samples from gardens throughout the small border region and so far have liked the Guizhou garden’s results the best, but we check-to-confirm every spring!
When a perfect growing season and a tea plant’s inherent taste come together to yield what classic green tea manufacture wants a tea such as this to be, and its flavor is realized, the result is delicious, quite unique, and shows why this tea is highly-regarded in China. It has a range of delightful, almost playful tastes that release in the steeped liquid, and the aroma is just plain delightful! There is a slight woodsy-ness and earthiness in the core flavor but there is also a freshness and bright flavor (almost that of a very subtle lemongrass or kaffir lime) that balances perfectly with its full body. Is there a hint of subtle true cantaloupe melon (the present day Cavaillon melon) that rises from the steeping liquor as the tea cools?
Be mindful of the water temperature with this budset tea. Being a budset tea, it can be sensitive to overly-hot water, and the budsets do yield their best flavor when steeped with fairly cool water. So we recommend that the steeping water should be hot, but not enough to scald the budsets – then the steeped liquid tea will be perfect. This tea is also delicious when cooled, and is very refreshing.
2021 is shaping up to be an outstanding year for Asian tea…green, white, oolong, and black. It seems destined to be one of the ‘Vintage Years‘ that only come around perhaps once a decade? (during the past decade it was the 2014 harvest, and 2020 was not too shabby, but complicated by the hassles of the pandemic…fyi) So in this odd year of so much stress and change, in the world of tea, most aspects of ‘the fruit of the tea garden’ are exceptionally positive and ‘drinking well’. Perhaps the old British saying of most situations improving by ‘having a cup of tea and a sit down’ will help us this year as we work through the many challenges that are facing the entire world. We are all in this together and let’s keep up the good work that most of us are doing to be together…whether apart, or starting to be together again, supporting each other, and appreciating our mutual cups of tea.