Liu An Gua Pian is considered one of China’s top ten famous teas. Its name, “Gua Pian”, is often mistakenly translated to mean “Melon Seed”, but in Chinese, Gua Pian also refers to sunflower seeds, which the dry leaves of this tea resemble.
Our Liu An Gua Pian comes from the mountains of Jin Zhai County, Liu An City, in Anhui Province. Unlike most green teas, where earlier harvest is prized, Liu An Gua Pian is picked around Guyu, a harvest festival that falls on April 20th. The later harvest is typical of green teas from Anhui, and especially for Gua Pian, where only the secondary and tertiary leaves of a three leaf combination is picked – the bud and stem are left on the tea plant. To obtain the characteristic sunflower seed shape of the finished tea, both the tip and stem edge are also slightly cropped during picking.
Once picked the leaves are withered, then crafted using two heated woks and a bamboo brush. The first wok roasts the tea and prevents further enzymatic breakdown, while the second wok is used to shape the leaf into its characteristic form. A series of coal fire bakes finishes the tea.
Liu An Gua Pian is one of the thickest and intense green teas we’ve tasted, producing a smooth and rich liquor with minimal vegetal notes. The aroma of the tea, amazingly, resembles the smell of fresh roasted sunflower seeds. The flavor is rich without astringency, and delivers a long finish with a hint of florals that remind us a little of the complexity we get from some of our Formosa oolongs.