Yu Hua Rain Flower
The name Yu Hua came from a Buddhist legend where a Zen master lectured around the area of Nanjing, declaring that if his teachings were true, flowers would rain from the heavens. When this Zen master taught his dharma, flowers rained! Some 50 years ago, the Chinese government awarded the people of Nanjing the right to make a tea unique to that region, and that few artisans in the country could make, to commemorate the Nanjing Massacre. Hence, this uplifting name was chosen that occasioned the gifting of this tea to the people of Nanjing: Yu Hua, the Rain Flower tea.
This tea is very prestigious, and supplied mainly to the Chinese Central Government as well as the local governments. Any remaining lots would be available to other ‘persons of importance’, mainly heads of companies for gift giving. The top premium grades are exclusively handmade, and fewer than 10 teamasters in the country have the skillset and experience to produce the shape the Rain Flower tea is known for. Called the needle shape, this is the most challenging shape to make of any green tea. Early tender buds flushed in the mornings are chosen, and an experienced tea harvester may only be able to harvest about 1 lb of raw leaves a day. Fired completely by hand in a hot, dry wok of over 100 degrees Celsius, the entire process takes about an hour. The finished shape resembles a pine needle: bulbous end, hair thin and without breakage, a straight spine on one side, a knife edge on the other side, and it all must come to a sharp needle point.