China Beauty Ring
The first and second leaves of new shoots are plucked during the end of March and early April. The leaves are allowed to wither slightly, then hand-rolled lengthwise. Then the best leaves are curled around a “beauty stick,” pressed flat, then dried in a special oven. The bottom of the new leaf is covered with new down, a symbol of the freshness and purity associated with beauty. This tea is made in only two villages in the Sichuan Province, which are holders of the “beauty sticks” that the favorite consort of a thirteenth century emperor blessed with her beauty. Infuse 5-7 rings per cup in water that is 180 degrees for about three minutes. Do not remove the leaves from the cup. Add more water as needed for about three infusions or until the flavor is exhausted.