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From Song Tea & Ceramics

Notes of toasted rice crackers, nori, and guava.
Melon Seed, aka Lu’an Gua Pian, is a traditional Chinese green tea from Anhui Province, traditionally harvested the third week of April, using only the secondary leaf rather than bud.

We added this tea to our collection because of its richness and complexity – a departure from greens that are clean, bright and light. This tea’s depth is a result of the traditionally later harvest, and unique harvest and craftsmanship method.

Melon seed is typically picked in the second and third week of April, after the early spring leaf sprouts have matured to at least 6cm in length. Then, only the secondary tea leaves are picked – without stem or tips.

The prepared leaves are then brought indoors, withered, and roasted in small batches in wood-fired pans. Two pans and a small hand brush is used – the first to “kill green” and deactivate the enzyme that would otherwise break down the leaf, and the second to give the tea its characteristic sunflower seed shape. Once set, the tea is placed into woven baskets, and the baskets are set over open charcoal fire.

The result is a tea that has the richness and complexity of lighter oolongs, with a distinct toastiness and fruitiness that bring to mind toasted rice crackers, nori, and guava.

Our Melon Seed came from a farm near Qi Shan Village, Lu’an, Anhui. The organic garden that produced this tea sits at 700m, in an area flanked by bamboo and pine. The growing region is at the epicenter of a new movement towards organic tea production in China – one with an altogether different standard in quality than the typical organic, but low-grade teas earmarked for export. Tea leaves in this region are hand-picked, no pesticides and herbicides are used.

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