Green Tea: 5 Most Unusual Varieties

Green tea has become the most popular variety among Chinese and global tea enthusiasts. This phenomenon is rooted in history and the fact that once you've tasted a good green tea, it's unforgettable. Learn about the main types of green tea in our article.

What is Chinese green tea?

Green tea encompasses the largest variety of teas, each with its own production characteristics.

Common traits of all green teas:

Minimal oxidation: Natural oxidation occurs only when the leaf is plucked from the bush.

Harvesting takes place in the first half of spring. While some varieties are also harvested in the fall, spring leaves are highly prized.

Distinguishing factors among green teas:

Geographical origin: Provinces producing the largest volume of green tea include Zhejiang, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Yunnan, Fujian, Shandong, and Guangdong.

Method of leaf fixation: Leaves can be pan-fried with constant stirring in a wok, rolled in a hot rotating drum, heated with hot air over charcoal, or treated with steam.

Rolling method: Different types of green tea exhibit distinct rolling techniques, including balls, spirals, needles, or flat leaves.

Longjing (Chinese: 龙井)

A rock star in the world of green tea. Year after year, it claims top positions in various competitions and rankings.

The history of Longjing dates back to the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD) in the Zhejiang province. Initially, it was a tea reserved for the imperial court and the elite, produced in small quantities and priced very high. Until the establishment of the communist regime in China, it remained a prestigious and relatively rare variety. With the onset of the communist era, the production of Longjing tea was nationalized, and taken over by state-owned companies. The production and distribution of Longjing tea were strictly controlled.

Today, Longjing tea in China is actively counterfeited. Relatively recently, the government established 18 officially registered zones where tea is grown, and only tea from these zones can be labeled as Longjing.

Longjing green tea always has the form of small yellow-greenish flat leaves.

Bi Luo Chun (Chinese: 碧螺春)

This tea originated in the Jiangsu province. It grows in the Dongting Mountains, which surround Lake Taihu. It started being known by its current name in the mid-17th century. According to legend, this tea was previously called "Xia Sha Zhen Xian" (Chinese: 吓杀人香), which translates to "Killer Aroma." Once, Emperor Kangxi (1662-1723) visited Lake Taihu, and a local official presented this tea to him. The aromatic tea pleased the emperor, but he found its name too provocative. After some thought, he renamed it Bi Luo Chun, meaning "Emerald Spirals of Spring".

It looks like neat green nodules with lots of buds.

The production of Biluochun using the traditional technique is surprisingly similar to that of Longjing. Fixation, rolling, and twisting are not separate stages but smoothly transition from one to another, done in a gradually cooling wok. However, the conditions for making Biluochun are different: lower temperature and a different hand movement pattern. As a result, two distinct types of green tea are produced.

Like Longjing, Biluochun is produced not only around Taihu Lake. "Emerald Spirals" are made in the provinces of Jiangsu, Sichuan, Yunnan, as well as in Thailand. Their taste differs from the tea from Taihu Lake. Usually, producers call these teas "crafted in the style of Biluochun" and add the place name, for instance, "Sichuan Biluochun."

Mao Feng (Chinese: 毛峰)

The name of this green tea translates to "Fleecy Peaks", referring to its shape: the leaves are rolled into elongated twisted strands. For making Mao Feng, the buds covered in fine hairs are selected, along with two adjoining leaves of the same length. In the case of higher-grade variations, there's only one leaf. It's important to note that the name Mao Feng isn't exclusive to green tea; it refers to the rolling style. For example, there's a well-known red tea called Dian Hong Mao Feng, which shares the same rolling style with green Mao Feng.

The production process for this tea is generally the same as for other green teas: harvesting, withering, fixing the green color, rolling and shaping, and finally drying.

 Fresh, sweet, with barely noticeable bitterness that turns into sweetness.

We have brought in three varieties of Mao Feng tea this spring at TEAFLOW:

Mao Feng "Fleecy Peaks" Green tea, spring 2023: 

An easy-to-brew everyday Mao Feng from Yunnan province. It features a soft, honey-floral taste with a subtle smokiness that smoothly transitions into a sweet, plum-like aftertaste. 

Mao Feng Zao Chun "Early Spring" Green Tea, Spring 2023:

A straightforward and delicate early-harvest green tea. It boasts a vibrant aroma with floral notes. The taste is fresh, and sweet, with a gentle, barely noticeable bitterness that turns into sweetness.

Meng Ding Mao Feng Green Tea, Spring 2023: 

Mao Feng from the Sichuan province, from the vicinity of Mount Meng Ding. It has a floral, baked, and berry aroma with hints of black currant. The taste is sweet and robust. The pleasant floral bitterness lingers into a long, enveloping aftertaste. The first spring harvest is available until the Qingming Festival. In terms of value and quality, it's one of the most intriguing teas of the Spring 2023 season.

Tai Ping Hou Kui (Chinese: 太平猴魁) 

Tai Ping Hou Kui is produced in the Anhui province. This tea is instantly recognizable due to its distinctive appearance. It has the largest leaf size compared to other green teas, resembling very long, flat ribbons.

Tai Ping can be identified not only by its long twisted leaves but also by its characteristic delicate orchid aroma. It remains unfazed by boiling water and doesn't turn bitter when brewed.

Luan Guapian (Chinese: 六安瓜片) 

"Luan Melon Seeds" is a green tea from the city of Luan in the Anhui province. This tea has a long history, with references dating back to the times of the Qin Dynasty (221 BCE - 206 BCE).

If you translate the name literally, then Guapian is pumpkin slices. However, the name "Pumpkin Seeds from Luan" stuck in the tea world.

Unlike most green teas, which use the bud and the first or second leaves, Luan Guapian is made from the second leaf on the branch. The shoot is plucked if it has a bud and 3-4 leaves. The bud and the first, third, and other leaves are used for making other types of tea. The harvest takes place quite late, at the end of April and in May.

The "Pumpkin Slices" have a fresh, intoxicating aroma with a hint of orchids and pumpkin seeds.

After the plucking of the shoots and separating the second leaves, the process involves several steps of roasting and drying. Roasting is done in a heated wok. The leaves are then moved to the next wok with a lower temperature. In this wok, the leaves are shaped through clapping and mixing. Afterwards, the leaves are dried over a wooden fire. The drying process is also carried out in multiple stages, with gradually increasing temperature and decreasing exposure time. During drying, the leaves are flipped every few seconds, and this is repeated up to 80 times.

In this article, we've described just 5 unique types of green tea in our collection. Explore, discover new things, and delve into the world of green tea in all its diversity.

May the power of green tea be with you!)

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