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Mao Feng Loose-Leaf Green Tea 黃山毛峰
Mao Feng Loose-Leaf Green Tea 黃山毛峰
Savory, pea, silky but substantial
Huang Shan's beauty is reflected in its tea.
Also known as: Mao Feng Tea, Yellow Mountain Green Tea 黃山毛峰
Learn more about true Mao Feng
Huang Shan (Yellow Mountain) is one of the most magnificently beautiful and famous mountains in the world, and its tea has long been ranked among China’s best.
The history of tea in Huang Shan can be traced as far back as 1050, and the mountain has produced a number of popular varieties in past eras, including Huang Shan Yun Wu (not to be confused with the Lu Shan Yun Wu popular today) and another tea known as Huang Shan Mao Feng.
Today’s Huang Shan Mao Feng is generally considered to be a continuation of Huang Shan Yun Wu.
Mao Feng’s Terroir
Though Mao Feng green tea originated in the scenic area of Huang Shan, Anhui province; it is actually more commonly produced in Fuxi, a separate section of the Huang Shan mountain range several hours away.
In fact, many don’t believe Mao Feng is still produced in the scenic area of Huang Shan. However, Mao Feng from this location is still prized above all other terroirs.
Within this area, there are four areas known for producing Mao Feng: Nine Dragon Waterfall, Jade Valley, Stone Gate, and Phoenix Spring, the last of which has a second lot of wild tea trees located across the valley from the main lot.
The village surrounding this lot moved out over 25 years ago, abandoning the tea trees, and so the trees have been growing untended since then. These wild trees tend to produce more intensely savory teas, with a higher percentage of heirloom varietals, and because the lot is so small this variety is very rare, and so very expensive.
Huang Shang Da Ye Varietal
Most Huangshan Maofeng is made from a tea bush varietial known as Huang Shan Da Ye, an ancient clone varietal which was taken from the original heirloom varietals. This tea is comparable to the Long Jing varietal Long Jing 43, in that both varietals are clone varietals produced in an effort to reproduce the best characteristics of the heirloom varietal.
High quality Mao Feng is most well known for the shape of its dry leaves, which look “very handsome,” according to Shunan Teng of Tea Drunk.
The leaves are not intentionally shaped, but instead are allowed to shape themselves naturally, curling up slightly into a point, which gave the tea its original name: Bird Tongue.
Today it is known as Hairy Peak, named for the shape of the leaves and the hairs on the buds. However the name Mao Feng has taken on a new meaning beyond the literal one. The name is synonymous with unshaped tea leaves, to the point that the name is given to any tea produced without a shape-making process, such as Hong Mao Feng (“Red Mao Feng”), an unshaped red tea.
It is worth clarifying that while Mao Feng is considered unshaped, the larger leaves are often rolled lightly during the making process in order to ensure even heat distribution throughout the leaf.
This is considered distinct from the intentional shape-making process involved in the production of most other teas, which is its own separate step, and so these leaves are still considered unshaped.
Mao Feng is made using the bud and the first one to two leaves on the branch. Teas picked earlier in the season are lighter in color, both for the leaves and the brewed liquor, and the buds are smaller and curl more naturally due to high moisture content, all of which is desirable.
Teas picked later in the season will be darker colored, with more harsh compounds which negatively affect the flavor.
After it is picked, the leaves are picked up and dropped to fall naturally, after which they are baked dry on bamboo trays overnight, a long time for a tea to bake.
The teas are not rubbed at all during the process, allowing them to retain their hairs and making Mao Feng one of the mildest of all green teas.
As Mao Feng is baked-dry, one of the four processing methods, and is unshaped; it is characteristically the most mild of green tea.
Mao Feng is known for its savory taste, more so than any other Chinese green tea, and this savory character is even more pronounced in wild teas. The tea remains very mild however, with an unusual tenderness for its category.