I finally managed to visit Chái Lín Jūn’s tea-farm just 2 days in of this years harvest.
Here an impression of, no, not the high quality tea they produce there, but of the rubbish that was deemed unfit and discarded during the sorting.
Although the tea trees have of course been planted and are cultivated there on the farm, they are allowed to grow almost as they would in the wild. No cutting for accelerated growth nor shaping for machine harvesting. It makes it a bit harder to pick the tea but that’s well worth it.
For larger versions of all images please click them.
Chái Lín Jūn does not machine harvest nor does he produce autumn tea. The reason for that is quality. Farmers who do produce and offer autumn teas here in China almost all use pesticides, even the so called organic ones. International tea importers are well aware of that and do test samples, but please don’t let me spoil your autumn greens should you like them, as at least on the international market they are fairly save to consume. Anyways, I personally tend to avoid them here.
Once the picking is done, usually in the early afternoon hours, the sorting starts immediately followed by shāqīng also known as kill-green.
For kill green and the first pre-shaping 2 machines are used, the rest of the process is done by hand. A wood fired air-oven is preheated.
The tea looks like this when it comes out the machine that helps squeezing the leaves a little and releasing the tea oils.
From there it goes onto the heated air to be hand-rolled with distinct movements.
I grabbed a handful almost finished tea and took this shot so you can compare and see how it started to curl up, changed its color and the little white hair started to show.
A few minutes later I enjoyed the first glass and as you can see, the little white hair made it all the way in there. MMMmMMMM, so delicious.
All tea made pre-qingming (before the 5th) is rather pricey and not much of it is available as Chái Lín Jūn’s farm is not industrial scale….
….however, if someone really really wants to have some of this fine pre-qingming green in their cups email me (as long as it is for personal use in a reasonable limited amount) or check the menu on the right hand side for varieties picked a bit later.