Chinese loose tea grade system

Chinese teas are usually numbered, first being the highest grade and down from there. There's no set stopping point, but generally 7 or 9 is what most people deal with. Again, this is specific to the leaf style and shape and how perfectly that was executed in production.

In addition to numbering, you may also find reference to the season of harvest in the Chinese system. Pre-qingming Dragonwell ("before the rains") is a good example of this. Certain seasons yield better quality of flavor, in general, so where this is noteworthy, it is called out.

Chinese tea names are often poetic and descriptive of the leaf ('hairy crab', 'longevity eyebrow', 'red snail'). Some can also indicate where the tea came from - Yunnan, for example, is a well-known tea province in China, and actually, the birthplace of all tea.

Excellent tea is relatively rare to find, because the entire procedure is done by hand. Pure handmade tea has adopted a strict, machine free process along every step. The leaves are picked leaf by leaf through tea farmer's hand. Although handmade tea production is relatively low, its flavor is particularly pure and tasty. Though manufactured tea is produced a large quantity, these leaves will lose lots of nutrients and original fragrance during the process.

China, the Homeland of Tea

China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China has tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of tea plants dates back two thousand years. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha.


Tea Production

A new tea-plant must grow for five years before its leaves can be picked and, The trunk of the old plant must then be cut off to force new stems to grow out of the roots in the coming year. By repeated rehabilitation in this way, a plant may serve for about l00 years .

For the fertilization of tea gardens, soya-bean cakes or other varieties of organic manure are generally used, and seldom chemical fertilizers. When pests are discovered, the affected plants will be removed to prevent their spread, and also to avoid the use of pesticides.

The season of tea-picking depends on local climate and varies from area to area The best Dragon Well tea is gathered several days before Qingming (Pure Brightness, 5th solar term) when new twigs have just begun to grow and carry "one leaf and a bud." To make one kilogram (2.2 lbs) of finished tea, 60, 000 tender leaves have to be plucked.

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