icon-account icon-glass

TEA SCHOOL | Pan Fired Chinese Green Tea, Legacy of the Ming

Posted by Pedro Villalon on

The focus of today’s post is a style of tea that is very popular in China; it is easily the most consumed tea north of the Yangtze River.
What is green tea? 
We define ‘green’ tea as tea that is unoxidized; the leaves preserve their natural green colour, just as if they were freshly picked. If you allowed these leaves to wither a bit, they would become yellowish (we call those ‘oolong’); further withering would produce dark brown leaves, which we call ‘black’ tea.
Killing the Green (杀青, or shāqīng in pinyin) is a colourful name for a critical process to keep the tea ‘green’. It boils down to applying heat to de-activate the enzymes that enable the oxidization process. The two most popular ways of doing this are:

  • Steaming: used in Japanese sencha, but also known to be used in some traditional Chinese green tea, such as Enshi YuLu (恩施玉露); note that the characters for YuLu (‘jade dew’) are identical to those for Japanese gyokuro. This process was prevented throughout most of China until the Ming Dynasty.
  • Pan-firing: used in the vast majority of Chinese green tea styles… but also in kamairicha, a style of tea that is popular in Miyazaki, Kochi, and a few other places in Japan. 

The Mind of the Ming. 
Why did the Ming China society favour loose-leaf, pan-fired tea? Consider this paragraph from Okakura Kakuzo’s most interesting book:
The cake-tea which was boiled, the powdered-tea which was whipped, the Leaf-tea which was steeped, mark the distinct emotional impulses of the Tang, the Sung, and the Ming dynasties of China. If we were inclined to borrow the much-abused terminology of art-classification, we might designate them respectively, the Classic, the Romantic, and the Naturalistic schools of Tea.

The Book of Tea
The pragmatic Ming society appreciated tea as a thirst-quenching expression of nature for everyday use. A few centuries later, billions have tea as an integral part of their daily lives. Thanks, Ming folks!
A great-great-great-great-great grandkid of the Ming, in Vancouver. 
You may have met Dylis Xu, a tea friend and sometimes guest bartender, at our tea bar. Her hometown is in HuangShan (a most fabled origin for tea), and her family owns a stunning little farm. After a long process to bring some of their 2021 tea to Vancouver, we finally have some MaoFeng at our tea bar!
It's one of our featured specials this week. 

Older Post Newer Post


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published