Mengding Mountain Snow Buds
sold out for 2013
more in spring 2014
- Yellow tea
- Sichuan Province, China
- Pan-fired and ‘smothered’ during men huang (the ‘sealing yellow’ step)
- Sword-shaped bud pluck ('sparrow-tongue' style)
- Brisk , mineral-stone flavor
- Fresh, high-elevation crisp aroma
- Delicate pale jade colored liquor
Use 2 teaspoons (2-3 grams) per 6 oz of water
Steep 2-3 infusions at 2 minutes each.
Water temperature should be 160° - 170° F
Mengding Mountain is located on the Tibetan Plateau in NW Sichuan Province. It is considered by tea historians to be the birthplace of cultivated tea in China. Mengding Mountain is situated northwest of Mt Emei, one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism.
Huang Ya is a springtime phenomenon: they are ‘first-of-the-season’ compact, tender, juicy buds brimming with the vigor of tea bushes that are beginning their annual growth cycle. Yellow teas are increasingly uncommon in China because few tea makers specialize in making them any longer. The extra work involved in making yellow tea is more labor-intensive than that for manufacturing green tea and the market for these teas is judged to be dwindling.
So, we are thrilled to have this tea so that our tea enthusiast customers can experience it before the day comes when it may be no longer made.
Huang Ya begins when tea pluckers gather delicate, sword-shaped buds and carefully place them into small silk bags (rather than traditional woven bamboo tea plucking baskets) to avoid any damage to the buds. Two workers picking in this manner for one full day will gather only one kilo of fresh buds.
In the tea factory, during processing for yellow tea the fresh buds are removed from the heat while they are moist and warm. They are covered with a cloth in a smothering step ( men huan or sealing yellow). This step allows the leaf to reabsorb its own aromatics and to 'breathe'. This step allows the buds to develop a greater level of sweetness and fragrance than green tea has. When the tea is finished, the color of the buds have a yellowish color cast rather than the rich green green color of green teas.
When we visited a Huang Ya tea garden and tea factory on one of our spring tea buying trips there was fresh snow on the tea garden from an overnight storm the night we arrived. What an experience to walk past the garden's scolding 'guard' monkeys onto a famous tea mountain in the fog, ice, and snow!
This is a very elegant tea with an overall taste sensation of this tea is mineral-stone crisp, clean with a underlying layer of sweetness. Mengding Mountain Snow Buds has a cool and bracing quality that affirms its high altitude environment - terroir - and expresses the chilly early spring weather in which it flushes in the spring.