Following our work in Hefeng County's Manyingtai Village this last Spring and Summer, we have assembled this sampler as the consumation of efforts to improve the marketabilty of local tea. In this sampler, you will find three (or four) teas, all but one of which are experimental and have never been sold before. Here's what is on offer:
-Hefeng Shoumei （10 grams）
-Hefeng Shaigan （10 grams）
-Hefeng Maojian （10 grams）
-Purple Cultivar White Tea (5 grams - sold out)
With the help of our WWOOFer Erika and the Loushuiyuan Cooperative we attempted to utilize the oft wasted autumn tea (Late August - Early September) that was available in the village to make two brand new products: Hefeng Shoumei and Hefeng Shaigan. The former product is, as the name implies, a tea picked and processed in the style of the autumn white tea grown in Fujian. 2-3 larger leaves and bud of the handsome Echa varietal were picked from the plot directly behind the Loushui Cooperative Factory. White its gentle huigan and notes of fennel, asian pear, and pollen, this tea is more delicate and mild than most Fuding Shoumei teas made with the Dabai varietal.
The autumn pick Shaigan was much more authentic than the Spring version we had made previously. It was fried, kneaded, and sun-dried without any equipment unavailable in the 1970's. The original wooden tea kneading basin used by the Wuyang Commune was brought over and cleaned for the occasion. The pick was also far later and rougher than the Shaigan we produced back in May. The resulting tea is sharp and grassy, with an almost overwhelming toasted rice flavor. We may not try to make it again this late in the year, but it is worth appreciating as a historial re-creation.
It is an especially fun ride to enjoy the Shaigan back-to-back with the fruit of modern mechanization that is Hefeng Maojian. Just like the Hefeng Shaigan and Hefeng Shoumei, it was produced from the Provincial Echa cultivar, however it was produced earlier in the year with the assistance of a modern kill-green tumbler, kneading machines, straighteners, and an electric oven. It is a comfy and simple oven-made green tea that deserves a place in your heart.
The purple tea in this sampler is perhaps the greatest curiosity in this line up. Several of the heirloom varietal bushes in the plot directly below our village home "suffer" from this natural mutation. The leaves that grow on these buses are dark and almost purpleish when young and tender. The cooperative and farmers thuus avoid these bushes at all cost, as no green tea producer in their right minds would use tea from such a plant to make Maojian. When processed as a white tea, it has a brassy flavor and citrus sour after-taste. It is a strange little mutant unlike any white tea we have had before, and it can grace your cup if you are one of the first five to buy!