Tea: Mapo Green Tea (mǎpō lǜchá 马坡绿茶)
Type：Baked Hubei Green Tea
Harvest: Pre-Rains, Guyu, April 2023
Region: Jianshi County, Hubei
Producer: Wei Dengquan
Tasting Notes: watercress, black pepper, cedar wood, pine sap, seaweed.
This savory and vegetal green tea is comprised of many tender tea buds. This bud-dominant pick has grown in popularity over the years due to its beauty when brewed, and the sweeter notes in the liquor, as well as the energy-forward sessions.
The dry leaves have a subtle watercress, almost peppery aroma, which is rarely found in green teas. When hit with water, the small slender leaves unfurl to exude their green tea oils, filling the cup with a pinesap fragrance that is thick on the tongue. The brew is a down-laden green is deeply savory with large amounts of umami, a pleasant huigan, and a few hints of seaweed in the early infusions. Even if brewed grandpstyle with 100 degree boiling water, the astrigency hardly denies the tea's thick mouthfeel and hard-hitting chaqi that are not surpassed by any of the other green teas we offer on this site.
Made in a similar way to the Maojian, predominantly comprised of straightened 'needle' like leaves, this tea is noticeably more robust than the Hefeng Green Maojian or the Enshi Yulu. That is because it is processed using conventional baked green (hongqing) machinery, meaning the tea is dried in a large oven. One key characteristic of the tea is that it is gorgeous when brewed in glassware, with many long slender buds suspended just below the surface of the liquor; however this tea is not as friendly as the Golden Green, and can become quite astringent if overstepped, thus a more closely controlled brewing method is suggested
Mapo tea (马坡茶）is one of the lesser known Hubei Greens that have become officially recognized as a production style. It is the green tea of Enshi's Jianshi County and comes with its own pedigree as a Qing Dynasty tribute tea. It is a great example of the move away from "generic" green tea towards special localized products registered and protected under the "geo-label" system.
When we first visited Jianshi in 2019, there was still very little Mapo tea to be found in the county seat. Only a handful of street vendors and a single hole-in-the-wall shop. In this shop, Wei Dengquan a local retired air force pilot turned tea farmer, served us the Mapo tea produced in the workshop he has set up with government loans and subsidized machinery. The quality of the pick was apparent, but we nonetheless did not find a place for Mapo Tea on our site until now.