Lu An Gua Pian, very famous chinese green tea from Anhui province, is, in many ways, a very particular tea. It grows in a mist-mountain- water (lakes, rivers…) landscape, with a very rich “terroir”. You can find all sorts of trees, bamboos and wild flowers including deeply perfumed orchids. The Lu An district is absolutely rural, with nature all around. A perfect place for tea.
Many tea gardens are located on small lake islands, you can only reach by boat, after a long country road (sometimes, finding tea is quite an adventure!). Every high quality tea grows in unique and precious environment, giving each one it’s own specific style. In Lu An county, nature is very quiet and peaceful.
On these pictures, you can see the typical Lu An landscape: mountains, water, mist, tea… In early spring, mist is always very present, making nature look mysterious. The tea bushes seem to grow where they want, harmoniously marrying the wild life.
So, what exactly makes Lu An Gua Pian so different, compared to other green teas? First of all, it presents only single leaves, no buds. They are picked on the very precise moment when the bud just opens up to become a fresh and delicate young leaf. Secondly, these new born leaves go through a special local and traditional processing.
1°) Very short withering phase on bamboo mats.
2°) First drying phase, also giving the tea leaves their specific shape.
3°) Second drying phase: the leaves will stay a few minutes on this low intensity braises, in a bamboo basket.
4°) The third and last drying phase takes place in a larger basket, on more intense braises. It requires 2 people, who will put the basket on the braises, turn themselves, put the basket off, toss delicately the leaves, then turn again to put them on the braises, and so on… They will repeat this operation about a 100 times, until the tea is perfectly ready. Then, the leaves will rest for a while, before being packed. This complex process requires a lot of patience and experience. The LAGP processed leaves have a dark green appearance, reminding high mountain pine tree forests.
It’s interesting to see how people involved in tea-making are always so concentrated in their tasks: a great lesson of implication in the present moment.
Since a few years, Lu An Gua Pian is getting more and more expensive because chinese tea connoisseurs are focusing on it. The before Qing Ming harvests offer the most delicate taste, even if LAGP is a pretty strong tea in general. Its flavors are fresh, a little fruity, and very pure.
The brewing method is the same than other chinese green teas: a simple glass, in which you can easily admire the dancing leaves. But if you feel it’s a bit strong, you can also brew it in a small porcelain tea pot (or zhong).
Tea pot brewing method:
Put a lot of leaves in the tea pot. Pour the hot water (about 90°C), and let it brew only a few seconds (1 or 2 seconds will be fine). Repeat the operation 3 or 4 times.
The liquor is bright, with a very pure and clean green color. The smell is fresh and invigorating. The taste is sharp and brisk, very “green”. Nevertheless, soft and sweet is the after-taste and very long lasting.
Lu An Gua Pian makes me feel “clean”: it can really purify body and mind, in a gentle, yet very efficient way. It also brings a lot of dynamism. A rich and powerful tea. After brewing, the leaves return to their first wild appearance.
Infused leaves always show interesting informations, specially about the plucking or the weather… things that cannot obviously be seen at first site.
Every single detail is important and can represent a clue about the whole tea’s story. That’s why we need to be focused and clear when tasting tea.
Lu An Gua Pian is an ideal tea for summer time: thirst quenching, refreshing, invigorating… Its intense flavors make it perfect for outdoor tea sessions.