The least oxidized of teas, green varietals offer flavors ranging from sweet, vegetal and cream-like to toasty, nutty, naturally sweet and clean. China produces the greatest varieties of green teas in a season that runs from March through May. Green teas will vary in name, appearance and taste from province to province and region to region. Known for their fresh flavors, the wonderfully diverse tastes of green teas are shaped by a number of factors - the traditions of the region, soil and weather conditions, the timing of the harvest and the plucking standard.
Once plucked and in the tea maker's hands, a number methods are employed for shaping the leaves - rolled, pan flattened, torn - to name only a few. Then the leaves are "fired" - a method whereby the leaves are heated, drying the leaf and stopping the oxidization process and preserving the rich colors we have come to enjoy. Firing can be accomplished by drying leaves in the sun, baking in ovens, steaming and/or working in a heated pan or wok, all of which result in partially roasted and fully roasted leaves. Each of the above steps will, in turn, create a distinct aroma and taste.
In selecting our green teas, we look at the color of the leaf, its shape and aroma, then we taste. These steps are applied for every tea we consider for purchase. In China, there is a standard or quality that each tea is crafted to meet. While these standards vary widely, a buyer should have a standard in mind and ready to apply as they source their teas. At Silk Road Teas, we adhere to the Chinese standard that the first pluckings of spring, the early harvest greens, offer the most nuanced and finest teas. A number of the green teas we select are varieties that are not generally produced for export. They are consumed locally or in the domestic market. Produced in smaller quantities, these teas tend to have a greater depth or strength and originality in their taste.
Sourced from travels in Fujian, Zhejiang and Anhui provinces and, selectively, Yunnan Province, each green leaf captures a time in spring and a flavor to be enjoyed in all seasons.