The highest grade Zhu Ye Qing that we have ever tasted with a rich, creamy and sugar peas sweet character The very first pluckings of the year from 50+ year-old heirloom cultivar tea bushes.
We have been tasting Zhu Ye Qing Green for nearly 20 years but I have never selected this tea for Mei Leaf because I often find it too green and astringent - it mostly reminds me of raw leaf rather than a crafted tea despite its huge popularity and high prices. To be honest, I had almost given up on this famous Sichuan Green and figured it was just not to my tastes.
But we pushed further and reached deeper into the inner circle of tea aficionados in Emei, Sichuan to try to see if there was a version that we could swoon over and THIS tea landed in our mailbox in early March. One taste and I was smitten. Yes it has all of the verdant, bright and Spring-like notes that I wanted but this is balanced with a rich brothiness, a smooth creaminess and an ability to be brewed hard without any of that persistent astringency.
Then I found out the price and the background of this tea (we always try to taste blind). This is the very first pluck of the year, picked in February. So these are the first buds to emerge after the winter and highly prized as you only get one chance to pick these beauties. More importantly (in my view) is that this tea is made from the Laochuan Qunti Zhong variety - this is the heirloom variety of the Bashu region (the old name of the area encompassing Sichuan). I am convinced that this variety makes all the difference, creating the spectacular balance of this tea.
You can certainly brew this 'Grandpa Style' in a tall glass with 80-85c (175-185F) water and just keep topping up as the water goes low and the tea becomes stronger. I personally prefer brewing in a half Gong Fu style (using a fair amount of leaf for 2 minute infusions) for at least the first 3 infusions and then I would move to 'Grandpa Style' or cold-brewing to get the most of these gorgeous buds (especially since they work out at over $1 per gram).
This is most definitely a 'treat' tea - it is the absolute top grade and it commands a high price but I just had to get a small qty to share with Green tea lovers out there. I advise tasting next to Sweet Dew - another first pluck 2021 Sichuan tea to understand the differences between these famous Greens.