Huangshan Mao Feng Tea, one of China's ten most famous green teas, was first produced in 1875 during The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in the area around Huangshan Mountain. The area features the ideal growing climate for the tea. The tea trees are grown at altitudes of over 700 meters, and the fertile soil, cool air, and adequate rain make the tea leaves large and strong which gives Huangshan Mao Feng tea its long-lasting aroma. What distinguishes Huangshan Mao Feng Tea from other Mao Feng Teas is the color of its leaves. The tea liquor is jade green in color and has a light flowery fragrance.
Huangshan Mao Feng Tea's name derives from its appearance and its growing location. The leaves look like the tongues of birds covered with silvery floss. In Chinese, "Mao" means fluffy, and "Feng" means mountain peaks. Although Huangshan Mao Feng Tea is not a scented tea, it has many properties similar to scented tea. The tea liquor has an apricot flavor and a fragrance like magnolias. No apricot trees or magnolias grow in the area, so it is unknown how Huangshan Mao Feng Tea gets its unique flavors. There are however wild peach trees that grow in close proximity to the tea plants, and that may be the cause. Huangshan Mao Feng Tea drinkers say that the first brewing is fragrant, the second brewing is sweet, and the third brewing is strong. The tea tastes clean and refreshing and lasts a long time on the tongue.
The techniques and production of Huangshan Mao Feng Tea are unique. The leaves are picked in when still buds with one unfolding leaf. The leaves, when processed, are yellow-green and covered with silvery hair. The best Huangshan Mao Feng Tea is picked early in the year in what is called pre Qingming picking, which is in early April. After picking, the tea leaves are spread out thinly in the sunlight to allow the leaves to wither. The freshly withered leaves are then pan-fried in large woks over an open fire. The pan-frying prevents the tea leaves from fermenting (oxidizing). While the tea leaves are being pan-fried, they are rolled, which causes the leaves to twist, and curl. Huangshan Mao Feng Tea production techniques strive to preserve the natural flavor of the fresh leaves, so that that flavor may be released during brewing.
There is an ancient Chinese legend surrounding the origins of Huangshan Mao Feng Tea. It is said that a young scholar and a beautiful woman who worked in a tea plantation were madly in love. One day a local landowner saw the woman and wanting her for his own, seized her and forced her to become her concubine. The woman escaped only to find that the landowner had killed the young scholar. When she found this out, she immediately went to his grave which was located high on a mountainside. She wept uncontrollably until she became the rain, and the young scholar became a tea tree. It is said this is why the area where Huangshan Mao Feng Tea grows is cloudy and humid all year. The tea orchards growing on the mountain slopes near Huangshan Mountain are beautiful any time of the year, but the best time to visit it is when the girls are out among the tea trees picking the fresh buds. It is a particularly beautiful scene. Visitors to the area at this time are able to go out among the tea trees and help in the harvesting of this wonderful tea.
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