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Has anyone tried all Ten Great Chinese Teas?

I just learned about the so-called ‘ten great teas’ or ‘ten famous teas’ of China. Apparently these were originally the teas reserved for the emperor, although there seems to be some debate about which ten teas should be on the list. I would love to try them all, but they seem to be quite pricey. Has anyone tried all ten? If so, which have the best ‘bang for the buck’?

17 Replies

I have not tried all 10 but you can get a generous sample size for $1.00 of 3 of the top ten at our online store www.tealiciousllc.com We carry the Ti Kwan Yin (Iron Goddess), Dragon Well and the Yin Zhen

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seule771 said

I did not know that there were ten best Chinese teas. I have been fortunate to experience The Tao of Tea’s Dragonwell and I think Sencha Shinrikyu is another one. And Ti Kwan Yin (Iron Goddess) is one I am fancying on sampling. Have yet to have opportunity.

Thank you for the information.

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TeaVivre said

The following list is the Chinese top ten teas:

Dragon Well( Xi Hu Long Jing)——Green Tea

Bi Luo Chun( Dong Ting)——Green Tea

Huang Shan Mao Feng—— Green Tea

Lu Shan Yun Wu(Cloud and Mist)—— Green Tea

Liu An Gua Pian—— Green Tea

Jun Shan Silver Needle( Yin Zhen)——Yellow tea

Xin Yang Mao Jian—— Green Tea

Wu Yi Yan Cha(Wuyi Rock Tea)——Oolong Tea

Tie Guan Yin(Iron Goddess of Mercy) --Oolong Tea

Keemun Black Tea——-Black Tea

EXCELLENT!

Angrboda said

I’ve tried at least five of those. Possibly six. I’m uncertain about whether I’ve tried the Huang Shan Mao Feng or not. I think I have, but I can’t remember for sure.

Pekoe said

tie guan yin! I had it at my friends house, they always have really good oolong… and well it was amazing!!! possibly the best oolong i’ve ever had

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Yes, I’ve tried all ten. I don’t know if I’ve written reviews on all ten, but, I have at some point tried all of them. :)

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Tried about half of them so far. I’m not as familiar with the greens, which is kind of funny when I hear and read about the greens being what they’ve done best for centuries prior to the black teas and oolongs.

I guess my advice would have less to do with price than with what you’re most likely to even find without having to do a long hunt on the internet or pay to have shipped. Tie Guan Yin is a sweet/fragrant oolong and isn’t difficult to find most places. Keemun is a black tea that you should be able to walk into a reputable tea shoppe and find in different grades (Hao Ya A, for example). There are lots of decent Dragon Wells within reach, I think even Teavana has it available.

Wuyi Rock Oolong I’ve had to order online. And the other greens I’ve yet to try I will need to source online as well.
My favorite local tea shoppe does well to have about 6-8 of the list in stock at any given time, but they don’t fly off the shelves, so to speak.

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My two cents about various versions of Chinese 10 famous teas :-)
http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2010/05/chinas-famous-teas-top-10-money-and.html

Ha I like the list from the world tea expo.

Thanks for the great discussion!

Definitely agree with all the problems you raise. One more note on the World Tea Expo list.. at least now the competition includes recognition for pu’er, but I was totally shocked that flavored, sheng and shu pu’ers are all lumped together in one category. Crazy! How is a judge supposed to compare all of those and pick one winner?

The lists are, however, great indicators of the current politics, culture and values of a local tea-drinking communty. In that case, it will be really interesting to watch how the World Tea Expo list (both of top 10 teas and of the winners they judge and recognize) changes over the next decade or so.

I think I should make an addition to the post sometime soon. I kept forgetting it. Actually, later I talked with one of the leading member of the committee that selected the “10 famous tea” in world expo. Now it’s clear that each of the 10 famous tea had to “apply” for its selection with a donation of more than 1 million RMB to world expo. I am not sure of it, but guess the rank order has to do with how much money was paid for each tea. It was openly commercial activity from the beginning, although the applications were indeed strictly screened and only good tea was selected. But world expo and historical awards in world expo used to be not so commercial. So I guess although there is nothing wrong to be commercial, they should have said it clearly, with the list of 10 famous tea, that each tea had to pay this much money to enter the selection. Otherwise, it’s misleading.

On the other hand, the 1959 selection was completely non-commercial. No selection would be perfectly fair. But I believe the borderline of commercial and non-commercial should be drawn clearly.

Pekoe said

world tea expo :O that sounds awesome!!!

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To go along with Gingko here is a link that claims to have used 20 different “Top 10 lists” and complied them to see which teas occur most often.

http://chinese-tea.net/10-famous-tea.htm

I’ve seen several sites do this, probably all quoting a single source though.

Probably comes from the table and discussion currently listed on the “China Famous Tea” wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_famous_tea

The wikipedia entry relies heavily on the list released by the “Chinese Ranking Association” in 1959. Ufortunately, I tried to follow the source provided to find out more about which Chinese Ranking Association this was and what their guidelines were, but all the source links to is a standard entry from Baidu:

http://baike.baidu.com/view/5512.htm

Luckily, Gingko’s post goes into much better detail regarding sources, etc. Too bad the wikipedia entry doesn’t link there! It would be so much more helpful.

Yes sources would have been nice, which is why I qualified it as they claim to have done this. I don’t hold much stock in this list other then a gauge that top ten lists are quite varied and there is no such thing as an official Top Ten Famous teas. As you have mentioned it is influenced a great deal by the atmosphere it is tainted with.

The list I linked to wasn’t taken from the wiki article, if you compare the two lists you’ll notice that they are different. Who knows maybe they actually did an independent study.

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The teas that were “reserved” for the Chinese Emperors were known as Tribute Teas, and have a complex and fascinating history. They changed significantly depending on the era and the individual year of production. There is a good short condensed explanation of the way this worked at: Gung Sian Cha: “Imperial Tribute Tea” (http://www.oolong-tea.org/tea-tidings/issue11.htm).

The top ten famous teas page at wikipedia really could use a bit of updating (just click on the “expand this topic” link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_Famous_Tea) but is very interesting in that it shows the number of occurrences that certain teas show up on various lists.

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