You’re alive during the golden age.

Newsletter Archive Aug. 27, 2021

Three porcelain lotus dishes holding the dry leaves of three different green teas.
Three of 2021’s most refined green teas: Mountain Forest Huangshan Maofeng (left), Huang Jin Ye (center), and Yu Qian Mogan Green (right).

Have you tasted this season’s green tea micro-lots? Now is a good time to try them. We still have Mountain Forest Huangshan Maofeng, Yu Qian Mogan Green, and Huang Jin Ye (Golden Leaf), all of which might not return next year.

Believe it or not, teas like this haven’t been available for very long at all.

In the late 1990s, after nearly a century of conflict, political tumult, and economic strife, China’s tea market was in an altogether different state than it is today. Officials at the time expressed anxiety over the possibility that Chinese tea could be cast aside with tastes shifting to imported coffee and cola. Fortunately, it’s the exact opposite that happened. Chinese green teas have entered a golden age, a change made possible by surviving traditional tea making skills, new scientific research, unified quality standards and thriving domestic demand.

There’s now way more variety to green tea than many realize. In fact, even among the teas of one producer, there’s way more than most people might expect.

Limp but still bright green tea leaves spread on the top of a woven bamboo drum with a heat source underneath it.
Mountain Forest Huangshan Maofeng’s pristine leaves being carefully roasted over a covered charcoal fire.

On this side of the supply chain,we often only see one or two teas from a producer. From this alone, it’s easy to mistake a tea producer’s annual production to be much smaller than it actually is. Many tea producers, in fact, make tens of different styles in possibly hundreds of different lots. Some teas are sold directly, some are sold in wholesale agreements, some are one-off lots, bespoke to customer specification. There’s way more tea out there than we can ever tell the story of. This micro-lot program is, at least, a way to share a bit more.

This weekend’s micro-lots are a cross section of things that make modern Chinese green tea so dynamic and exciting: unusual origins, new cultivars, and exacting hand-made production. This is the golden age. We’re here for it. You’re here for it. Let’s have a cup of tea and take in the moment.

Looking down into a gaiwan brewing very crisp, clean and even green tea leaves with a delicate pale infusion.
The small one bud-two leaf pluckings of Yu Qian Mogan Green, rehydrated into the image of its fresh spring leaves.