Feb 25, 2010

Another granny tea (or huang pian, yellow flake)

This is the second granny tea (huang pian) I've ever had. The first one was a "granny" of a king grade Shui Xian. Behind every Yan Cha product, there is "granny tea", the older leaves that are selected out. Since there are not many Yan Cha teabag products, I guess most granny tea is consumed by tea farmers, if it's still good.

Compared to the last one, this one is more interesting to me, because I happen to have the fine product of this tea, a gold medal Rou Gui. As someone who is not particularly enthusiastic about Rou Gui, I instantly fell in love with this gold medal Rou Gui. I was gifted only one 7g pack, and am still drooping for more.

The granny tea of this Rou Gui has larger, greener and yellower leaves. The leaves have not been highly roasted. After all, who will pay the effort to roast a huang pian. It looks and smells like a greener style Yan Cha. At the beginning, the look and smell of the tea leaves worried me a bit. I've seen some poorly made greener style Yan Cha that smells very good but tastes bitter, which, I guess, is due to inadequate oxidation. But it turned out pretty good.

I used a 120ml gaiwan, and moderately filled the gaiwan with tea leaves. After rinsing, time for each of the first infusions was about 10 seconds. 

Tea color of the first infusion is darker than modern greener style Yan Cha, but much lighter than normal Yan Cha, and it's a big contrast to the final product of the gold medal Rou Gui. The flavor is light fruity, with slight peppery taste. The overall aroma is not as strong as a typical fully roasted Yan Cha, and not typical Rou Gui flavor, but is quite nice and prominent. The liquor is mellow, without any bitterness or astringency. But I didn't attempt to give it long infusions, so I don't know how tolerant it can be. The following a few infusions yield mild but consistent flavors. 

Later I ran out of time and stopped after 5 infusions, although I believe it could go a little longer, not as long as a typical Yan Cha, but maybe 7-8 infusions. As a granny tea, I think its leaf conditions are admirable. The spent leaves after 5 infusions look almost like some normal product tea, very in shape and vibrant. This is indeed a generous granny tea!

I've ordered some sealable tea bags, and will make some tasty cheap tea and crushed tea leaves into teabags. This tea probably makes excellent teabag materials :D


Marlena said...

This was very very interesting. I feel I am learning a lot from your blog. Could you explain a little more what a "granny tea" is? Thanks, a fellow ATBer

Gingko said...

Thanks Marlena for your kind comments! The "granny tea" is quite new for me too and it's basically not a final product version of a tea.

The "grandma tea" (huang pian) is the older, bigger leaves selected out from the final tea product. It's often drunk by "grandmas" of tea families, hence the name. Another saying is, the leaves are older than others so that can be seen as "grandmas". Another name of it is huang pian (yellow flake) because older leaves seem generally yellower than regular leaves. I guess the older leaves of oolong are more drinkable than those of green tea. And some people even favor the "yellow flakes" of puerh.

Marlena said...

Thank you for this very clear and interesting response!