Rizhao Xueqing has become a Tea Trekker customer favorite Chinese green tea. This tea is well into its sixth year as a member of Tea Trekker’s collection of premium Chinese green teas, and we are quite pleased with its flavor profile and consistency of quality from season to season. It is one of the most delicious ‘spring’ green teas in flavor that, because of its far-northern origins, is not actually harvested until late May.. so is technically a Li Xia pluck. (The leaf for this tea is grown at a latitude that is similar to that of Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, whose spring tea season is normally much later than those of southern or western China) This longer growing season provides a depth of flavor that is unusual in a Chinese green tea.
A note about the 2021 harvest: as with most premium tea this season, the harvest began a little earlier than usual in most locations, and this was certainly true for the gardens that produce leaf for our Rizhao Xueqing. Rather than the usual late May, this year it was early May, and yet the leaf has the depth of flavor that is normal for a later pluck. It has been dry in some parts of eastern China (but more particularly Taiwan and Korea) and that also contributes to a concentration of flavor and a more full-body in the steeped tea.
Rizhao Xueqing has well-shaped, neat, compact, tightly-curled leaves that are deep green in color. The flavor is big and sweet in the cup – buttery and full – and the fragrance is stunningly fresh. This is a very impressive tea that has more ‘oomph’ than many leafy Chinese green teas, (due to the maturation that occurs during its long growing season) so for those looking for substance in the cup, we highly recommend this delicious tea. It is also a great ‘keeper’ – it is similar to a country green in terms of storage ability. Because of its longer and later harvest time, this tea will keep well for more than a year, and if kept at an even, cool temperature, much longer. (but do not freeze it!!)
This is not a complicated tea, but a tea to drink with gusto. Our Rizhao Xueqing is the same premium grade as we source every year – a ‘super-grade‘, right now from the 2021 spring harvest. It is not the usual ‘tourist-grade’ tea sold to visitors at the temple sites in this sacred, but nonetheless touristy, Buddhist region.
In a country that began to develop tea and tea culture over a thousand years ago, this tea, which was first created in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s by the China Tea Research Institute in Shandong Province, is a modern newcomer. While it has no august pedigree that connects it back to the Tang dynasty or another historical tea period, it has the distinction of being,….. well, mighty delicious and distinctive.
Starting with a rudimentary geography lesson, Shandong Province lies south of Beijing and north of Shanghai. Rizhao Xueqing is made in the Mt. Laoshan range, which is the largest coastal mountain range in China. This range consists of several mountains – Mt Fu, Mt Zao’er, Mt Shuangfeng, Mt Dading, and Mt Taizi, but is known collectively as the Laoshan. Mt Laoshan is a sacred Taoist mountain; however, meditation and solitude is optional when drinking this tea.
The highest peak lies at just under 4,000 feet above sea level and much of the footprint of the mountain mass juts out into the Yellow sea creating a coastline of bays and coves, somewhat similar to the topography of Maine in North America or Brittany in Europe. Mt Laoshan is comprised of a high percentage of granite rock, which gives the soil unique growing characteristics.
Locals say that the tea from this region has good energy. The ‘yang’ of its granite peaks and the ‘yin’ of the Yellow Sea creates good tea ‘qi’. We could not agree more! When we visited this beautiful region we were struck by the ‘oceans’ of bamboo that rustle in the mountain breezes and create a gentle background sound that is simultaneously calming and refreshing. The residents of the area are exceptionally proud and honest, with a kind heart.