Do you have any questions about Chinese tea?
Well, I feel pretty stupid. I still have a lot to learn about Chinese tea! Thanks for the answers.
No way! The cool thing about tea is that there’s always something new to learn. We all start somewhere :)
Until the next innovator produces another variety of tea, and we all have to learn even more. It’s endless.
Would you happen to have any thoughts on whether the recent changes in the Chinese economy would result in lower tea prices in future?
I’m not so sure what kind of economy changes you referred to, but I would probably say no. But I’m an economist so the answer is quite personal. In general the inflation has been going up for quite a while, everything is more expensive than before including everyday (mass-consumed low-end) teas. On the other hand, as people get richer and richer, the demand for high-end teas increases drastically. Moreover, there are capitals rushing into tea market as well due to the control over real estate market and stock market. There are other things that might lower tea prices. For example, the government is working on anti-corruption. This affects high-end tea market mostly. But I still think the tea prices won’t go down in recent future. This is really just my gut feel. what do you think?
OK thanks. I just thought that as there was some devaluation in the currency, that would mean that the dollar prices of the teas may come down, but I guess it is not anything significant to result in a major change in prices, especially if there is continued inflation as you mention.
Can you please help me understand the difference between Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong and Lapsang Souchong. I want to think that Lapsang is pine smoked and ZSXZ is not. That does not seem to hold true. Some companies seem to just randomly choose either name – I’ve seen smoked ZSXZ and non smoked Lapsang. Is this companies that just make up names? or is there a reason for it that I don’t understand. Would you please clarify how it should be.
I think that they are essentially the same tea with the smoked version getting an extra processing step. An online vendor (I think it was Streetshop88) said something about the wood they use to smoke the tea is getting rare so they often make the tea without smoking.
Agree with AllanK that the two names are the same. Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is mandarin pinyin, while Lapsang Souchong is the English spelling based on the sound of local dialect. Actually, Lapsang Souchong (Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong), the name itself indicates that it should be smoked because this is how it has been processed for centuries ever since it was invented. But nowadays it can be smoked or non-smoked. Even though the situation with pine wood is true, people’s preference sort of decides the popularity of non-smoked Lapsang Souchong. Also, it is quite tricky to smoke the tea well.
I like both the smoked and non-smoked version of this tea but it would certainly be useful if that was somehow in the name of the tea. What I do is read the sellers description to determine if it’s smoked or not.
I agree it would be useful if you could tell from the name, I guess that’s why I assumed there was a rule to it – or hoping there was.
I would really like to see a list of tea names, with all the variants. When I was starting out it took me a long time to realize that Da Hong Pao IS Big Red Robe and Bai Mu Dan IS White Peony. I obviously still have a lot to learn.
Is the story I have heard about the invention of Lapsang Souchong true? The story I have heard is several hundred years ago a farmer’s village was being attacked by someone, don’t know who. They had some unfinished tea they didn’t want to fall into enemy hands. They quickly smoked the tea hoping to finish it and burried the tea to keep the invaders from getting it. When they got back for their tea they felt it ruined but decided to try to sell it to the Dutch anyway who loved it. This is essentially the story I have heard about the creation of Lapsang Souchong. Is there any truth to it?
I read that they had to pay to their land lord/s and couldn’t wait for the tea to dry on its own, so they dried it with pine wood. Then, it turned out very well, so they continued to dry and smoke their tea.
“The story goes that the tea was created during the Qing era when the passage of armies delayed the annual drying of the tea leaves in the Wuyi Mountain. Eager to satisfy demand, the tea producers sped up the drying process by having their workers dry the tea leaves over fires made from local pines.”
The story I know is similar to the stories described above. They didn’t like the tea they made at first so they sold the tea to somewhere else in order to reduce the loss. Surprisingly, people loved the tea and with that came more and more demand. Finally in 1600s, the dutch brought this tea back to Europe. And a legend of China black tea in Europe started there. :D
Hello, @Dexter and @Ubacat. I meant to send private messages for you, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it… I’m writing a blog post regarding how Chinese teas are named. Do you mind I mention your questions in the article?
We have to be following you and you can then follow us. I just followed you. It’s okay if you want to mention my questions in the blog.
I also don’t mind using my question, I’m sure I’m not the only one that finds it confusing.
@ZhenTea if you follow them you can message them.
What must I look at when purchasing a Bai mu dan? I mean, looking at the cake, is there any way to differentiate great bai mu dan from low grade bai mu dan?
Drink all kinds of Bai Mu Dan, then you will know the answer the moment you drink it. :D
Honestly, this is a quite broad question. It is impossible to cover all the scenarios in one short paragraph. But basically there are several criteria in order to evaluate the quality of a tea: the look and the smell of the dry leaves, the liquor, and the brewed leaves; and most importantly, the taste. If you are buying this year’s Bai Mu Dan, more white and green colors in the dry leaves are preferred. A decent amount of buds also guarantees the flavour of the tea. Most white teas in the market now are not traditionally processed so that they smell and taste better. It’s great to drink it fresh, but if you are considering aging some tea, the traditionally processed Bai Mu Dan will do a better job in the long term even though it doesn’t smell or taste so delightful when it’s fresh. If you just want to have it for everyday drinking, I think the most important thing is that you like the aroma and the taste of the tea, which doesn’t have to be the best quality.
I bought 2 cakes and I waited 1 and 2 years before brewing it as I read that bai mu dan is sweeter if aged.
What do you mean with traditional processed? Hand processed?
Traditional process is sun dry which means the weather has a big impact on the final result and it’s time consuming. So lots of white tea is dried by machine, and the heat provokes the floral or fruity aroma of the tea.
oh my bad. i mistook a white tea compressed into cake to be puerh also. are there no white puerh tea?
Sorry @yssah, I didn’t mean to confuse you. It’s just sometimes the translations throw me off. For example, monkey picked oolong. I still don’t know what it is…
Thanks @Psyck for the link.
so whats the difference between the pu-ehrn white and normal? they both look very much the same
I think the idea is that there is no difference. White tea in a cake should age just as loose white tea ages. Maybe that’s all there is to it…?
I think the name pu’er white itself is quite confusing. The link that Psyck gave was more like a kind of Bai Hao Yin Zhen (Silver Needle) that are made with Pu’er leaves, in which case it is a kind of white tea. However, some people call Yue Guang Bai (Moonlight White) Pu’er white. This is actually a kind of new pu’er. The process is an innovation based on the traditional sheng pu’er process.
Just read an article about milky oolong that has really good points.
Are Milk Oolong’s a Scam? – http://t.co/vOq0eZR1cf
I finally finished the article about Chinese tea names. I break the article into two blog posts so it won’t be too long to read. Here is the first half of it and I’ll post the rest tomorrow. Please feel free to leave me any questions. http://www.zhentea.ca/the-mysterious-and-confusing-chinese-tea-names-part-1/