Topic: Green Tea Processing

Within two weeks I should have a chance to watch and hopefully participate in some green tea processing. The type of green tea is the flattened bud type, just like Longjing. If anyone has any questions to ask, there should be a few Longjing processing guys down from Hangzhou to help with the tea making.

a question I thought of:
Why do the buds in some green teas (like longding) all stand upright at the surface of the water? How does processing affect this characteristic?

I will also try to take some video of handmade tea and also the machinery.

If anyone has any questions or ideas, please add them here, I will try to post some interesting stuff in the next couple of weeks.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

Re: Green Tea Processing

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

Re: Green Tea Processing

I have seen people wipe the bottom of the pan with a rag or cotton glove in between batches of tea. Perhaps its the oil that comes out as pressure is applied to the buds and the moisture content dries off. I don't want to believe they add oil to the pan, but I will certainly ask.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

Re: Green Tea Processing

I was in Mei Jia Wu a couple of yrs ago, and I made a mistake by not asking this fundamental question.

My question is, how often is insecticide used on the plant?

Thanks for reading and enjoy a trip.

一杯一杯復一杯

Re: Green Tea Processing

That's a good question too. Do you think I will get an honest answer? I should think about this question more often myself. Hopefully, my tea making friend will be buying leaf from at least one garden which claims to be organic.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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Re: Green Tea Processing

brandon wrote:

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

FWIW, I once tried a quick heat up/refresh of some stale Lu An Gua Pian using Imen's method of using a folded piece of paper over a stove burner. I over-did it a bit and it tasted almost entirely nutty (though fresh!) where it didn't before.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

LaoChaGui wrote:

That's a good question too. Do you think I will get an honest answer? I should think about this question more often myself. Hopefully, my tea making friend will be buying leaf from at least one garden which claims to be organic.

chl42's question is my question too. Ask it anyway! :D

Or, you may manage to ask it in a subtle way. I remember reading about it somewhere that many teas have their spring harvests the cleanest (clean of pesticide) because there aren't many bugs yet before spring harvest. I don't know if it's true or not. But maybe you can ask them, is pesticide used less often before spring harvest than other times of the year? Well I know this sounds tricky :P

Another question I have is, I heard the manufacturers usually store new long jing in a container with lime and after a month, the long jing reaches the good state for sale. Do they really do it nowadays? If yes, how many manufacturer do this 1-month storage thing, state-owned factories, private factories or all of them? Or maybe they use more modern method but similar effects?

Then a question not directly related to tea processing, but please ask if you can :D I am interested in learning what the long jing experts think about the relatively new red/black tea long jing (long jing huang pao, 龙井皇袍). I somewhat wonder if some  professionals don't like the idea, or most of them like it.

Thanks and enjoy! Waiting to see video clips and photos! :D
-Gingko

門前塵土三千丈,不到薰爐茗碗旁

Re: Green Tea Processing

Thanks for all the questions, I will have to write them all down. I am not very good at thinking of questions myself. Even if I can't answers to all of them, I am sure it will get them talking.

I think I am learning a lot already from the questions themselves, as I hadn't heard of frying in tea oil or lime storage or the new red tea longjing.

The tea in Wenzhou seems like it is going to be really bad looking because of several drastic changes in temp. It even snowed a little. Then the temp. went way up into the 70*s/80*s last week, and now its really cold and raining a lot. Hopefully it will clear up and be good weather for tea picking by Thurs, and I will get some answers.

If anyone has any more questions - even after this weekend - please post. I should have at least 2 weekends of tea making.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

Re: Green Tea Processing

I don't know about green tea, but with hand-roasted oolongs, the wok is wiped between batches because there are natural oil/juice residue from the processing that coats the wok/pan, as well as some bits and dust that are left over. I'd imagine the same for green tea, but I'm sure you'll know for sure in a week or two. 

I'm very interested in how the processors fire & shape the leaves; please take video or provide an account of your experiences!  Even better if you can actually do it and see what it feels like, but take care not to burn your hands.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

brandon wrote:

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

Brandon, you were absolutely right. I didn't believe it when you said it, but they do put a little bit of tea oil in the bottom of the pan or in the machine before the tea is fried. The tea oil I saw was white flakes, which looked a little bit like paraffin. I think they make liquid tea oil as well, but I'm not sure. They don't add very much of it, just enough to keep the pan kind of shiny, so the tea won't scorch.

I did take one short video of the processing, if anyone is interested it is the only video uploaded by Youtube user LaoChaGui.

I asked two of the tea processors which I met about the new red tea from Hangzhou, but they evidently hadn't heard of it. They were from Anhui province, though. They do go to Hangzhou to process tea every year, but perhaps haven't heard of it yet.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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Re: Green Tea Processing

LaoChaGui wrote:
brandon wrote:

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

Brandon, you were absolutely right. I didn't believe it when you said it, but they do put a little bit of tea oil in the bottom of the pan or in the machine before the tea is fried. The tea oil I saw was white flakes, which looked a little bit like paraffin. I think they make liquid tea oil as well, but I'm not sure. They don't add very much of it, just enough to keep the pan kind of shiny, so the tea won't scorch.

I did take one short video of the processing, if anyone is interested it is the only video uploaded by Youtube user LaoChaGui.

I asked two of the tea processors which I met about the new red tea from Hangzhou, but they evidently hadn't heard of it. They were from Anhui province, though. They do go to Hangzhou to process tea every year, but perhaps haven't heard of it yet.

Watched it. Very lovely! Thanks! :D
Traditionally the tea people (especially those who directly handling the tea leaves) were mostly from An Hui. Almost all the best old tea stores in Beijing were established by people from An Hui too.
So did you put your hands on the wok too? :D

門前塵土三千丈,不到薰爐茗碗旁

Re: Green Tea Processing

I don't drink green tea often, but I heard from friends that some kind of oil was used when processing Long Jing, they were interested particularly in the type of oil. Lard was mentioned, which they tried to avoid.  Laochagui mentioned WHITE FLAKES, though I am no expert I do know that tea oil (vegetable based) should be in liquid form and not solid as in flakes.  My question is whether the oil was really tea oil or something else? No disrespect is intended with the question just wanted clarification for myself, my friends brought this up because they are vegetarians.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

In general the vegetable oil we use for cooking is in liquid state at room temperature, however, I think this has a lot to do with processing. I am not really qualified to comment on vegetable oil processing, so I will leave it at that.

I did think of lard when I saw the white flakes. I don't think it was, though. The texture was not the same. I was watching my friend clean out a tea frying pan when I asked her about the white flakes. As no one else was around, and I don't buy any of her green tea ever, I don't think she would have lied to me.

I would hope that if people used lard for tea, they would find some pure stuff. Maybe I will make a lard batch some time and send you some.

biloba wrote:

So did you put your hands on the wok too?

I still haven't tried making tea myself this year. I tried last year, but just for a couple of minutes, not long enough to complete a batch. Hopefully I will this weekend.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

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14

Re: Green Tea Processing

Sounds like a lot of fun :) Is this a dedicated trip you're taking, or something local to you that you're just able to do on your free time?

Here's the Long Jing Huang Pao - it's actually supposed to be a black tea rather than a red. To me it tastes like it's about half way in between a red and a black tea. When brewed right it has a nice floral aroma that you don't find in either :) I'm kind of surprised that they haven't heard of it, I think that it's made by the Xi Hu folks. It's too bad you're in China, otherwise I would send you some. You could always get some from TeaSpring, though, if you're interested.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

ABx wrote:

Here's the Long Jing Huang Pao - it's actually supposed to be a black tea rather than a red. To me it tastes like it's about half way in between a red and a black tea. When brewed right it has a nice floral aroma that you don't find in either :)

I've never had the long jing huang pao, but I guess the description is very accurate. Some people joked that it's making long jing into puerh :D

It's a recent technique (claimed to be redemption of some traditional technique) and the product is exclusively made by a large company (probably the company even patented the production procedure), so some freelance tea  workers (as well as many tea drinkers) may have not heard of it or paid much attention to it.

門前塵土三千丈,不到薰爐茗碗旁

Re: Green Tea Processing

Someone (I think ABx) said to me that long jing hong cha might be more like a hei cha, and by taste only, I tend to agree.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

brandon wrote:

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

I think I am going to call that myth. The top grades do have a nutty taste, however is is extremely different from the bad ones. I would not be surprised if they added sunflower or pine-nut oil to some of the bottom grades.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

Edkrueger wrote:
brandon wrote:

I have heard that the nutty flavor in long jing, which is more present in cheaper teas, is a result of tea oil used when wok firing the tea. Myth?

I think I am going to call that myth. The top grades do have a nutty taste, however is is extremely different from the bad ones. I would not be surprised if they added sunflower or pine-nut oil to some of the bottom grades.

I still think Brandon is right. I have always seen processors add a bit of oil to the pan when frying the longjing teas. It is tea oil, and I talked to a few different processors who said they all added tea oil no matter what. Otherwise the tea will scorch and taste and colour will be off.

红焙浅瓯新火活,龙团小碾斗晴窗

Re: Green Tea Processing

Interesting. My answer was more of a guess than anything. I was wondering if this tea oil is just a by product of the tea making that is saved or if it is produced in bulk as it own product. I know some tea oil is made from some low quality leaves and stems.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

I could be wrong, but I always assumed it was tea seed oil. Chinese food author Fuchsia Dunlop has a great piece about it in the Financial Times. Keep in mind that once you read the article once, it may not let you back in without signing up.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fb18611a-e9c9 … ab49a.html

Re: Green Tea Processing

Just read it from a Chinese forum that the oil is extracted from seeds of Chinese tallow (乌桕),specifically for pan frying tea. Good it know it's from a natural source :D

門前塵土三千丈,不到薰爐茗碗旁

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Re: Green Tea Processing

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovr_MeQoNQU

tea seed oil used in firing of zhejiang tea.


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Re: Green Tea Processing

Also, it should be mentioned that tea oil (Camellia oil) is not actually from the tea plant, but from another plant in the same family.

This article of Fuchsia Dunlop's is very interesting (you may get locked out after viewing it once):
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fb18611a-e9c9 … ab49a.html

Re: Green Tea Processing

Some people joked that it's making long jing into puerh.


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25 (edited by admin 2012-09-27 19:16:59)

Re: Green Tea Processing

I'm looking for genuine japanese green tea, I heard good things about  [redacted] and [redacted]. Is there any experience with these vendors? Thanks guys.

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