The process of making "semi-fermented" Wuyi rock tea is a masterpiece of ancient Chinese tea making techniques. As the 2023 spring tea season comes to a close and I drive back to Shenzhen from Wuyishan, it is time for my family to start the refining process. Before beginning the refining processes, I have to review and classify this year's Mao Cha. (Due to lnstagram text limitations, I will write the rest of the article in the comments section. I encourage all the curious tea lovers to read it.
This time I have brought four rock tea Mao Cha from the tea factory to share with fellow tea lovers. Feel free to get them for free on my website www.txs-tea.com, limited to one sample per person: Mao Cha
Mao Cha tasting and piling: tea leaves from the same mountain enter production at different times due to weather or quantity. This is when the tea leaves from the same batch of raw materials are evaluated, graded and selected to find the best. The main goal of the review is to analyse the deficiencies and mistakes in the initial production process for future improvement and for suitable charcoal roasting of the tea leaves at a later stage.
Mao Cha evaluation points: generally use a 120ml lidded cup, weigh 5 grams, choose water of good quality and brew with freshly boiled water, steep for nearly 2 minutes, look at the colour of the soup and smell the aroma after it is poured out. Maocha is generally brewed twice. In the second infusion the aroma should be checked after 2 minutes of brewing and the soup should be poured out after 3 minutes.
Teaware used for the evaluation: 120ml gaiwan, evaluation bowl, teaspoon, scale, timer. White porcelain teaware is usually used for tea tasting.
The quality of the tea is assessed in strict accordance with the following steps: first check the appearance of the dry tea, then assess the quality of the tea, and then grade the tea.
Mao Cha's dry leaves are evaluated mainly on their shape, colour, clarity and evenness. Mao Cha should be tightly rolled, not too loose; the colour should be moist and brown; it should be pure, the stems and yellow leaves (huang pian) should be picked out; and the size and shape should be even, avoiding broken bits.
Judging the internal quality of mao cha: soup colour, aroma, taste and the appearance of the brewed leaves. [P.S.: The tasting should be conducted in a ventilated and odourless tea room].
Soup colour: during brewing the tea leaves open up and the colour of the tea soup is the colour of their contents dissolved in the boiling water. Wuyi Rock Tea Maocha is reviewed in the first infusion, after the soup is poured, the soup colour is first quickly checked and then the aroma is smelled. The soup colour is judged according to the type of soup colour, depth, darkness, clarity and so on. The light yellow soup colour of Wuyi rock tea maocha is considered to be the standard. Avoid orange-red, which means the fermentation (oxidation in strict chemical terms) is too heavy or the drying temperature is too high.
Aroma assessment: after the soup colour, the aroma is quickly judged, completely relying on the olfactory organs in order to correctly identify the purity, type, level and persistence of the aroma. The aroma assessment is generally repeated several times. The duration is generally 3 seconds, as it should not be too long in order not to cause olfactory fatigue. The clarity of the aroma of well-made rock tea Mao Cha is high, the aroma is characteristic to the tea variety, and the aroma on the lid, in the soup, and the aroma left in the cup are clear and long-lasting.
Taste review: As different spots on the tongue have different sensitivities to taste, the tea soup should be swirled back twice on the tongue after sipping so that the tongue is fully exposed to the tea soup. The taste review is mainly based on factors such as clarity, thickness, bitterness and astringency, and the aroma of swallowed soup.
Brewed leaf evaluation: the tea leaves after brewing are evaluated by touch and sight. The leaves are graded according to their age, colour and fragmentation of the wet leaf. The brewed leaf of Wuyi rock tea maocha is best described as green with red edges.
After the Wuyi rock tea is evaluated and stored, it is then charcoal roasted and restef for several months. After the natural transformation, Wuyi Rock Tea will be available for sale in July/August 2023, when all the tea lovers are welcome to taste it.