Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: dark, long and slightly twisted
Steep time: 1 minute
Water Temperature: 194 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: bright gold
Phil and Zhen of Zhen Tea kindly gifted me a sample of this unusual tea when I ran into them at World Tea Expo. It is an oddball in that it is a Chinese green tea that was processed using a resurrected steaming method from the days of Lu Yu. We usually think of processing methods as the main difference between Chinese and Japanese green teas. It is important to keep in mind that the steaming method we associate with Japanese teas like sencha originated from China, along with the tea plant itself.
The dry leaves were surprisingly dark, especially for a green tea. A bit more green was visible once I placed them under my bright photography lights. There were some stems, but they were mostly whole with a long, slightly twisted shape. They had a slightly sweet aroma with a floral aspect that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Zhen Tea describes the smell as pastry-like, and I could definitely see that connection. Maybe fresh brioche or croissants?
Following Zhen Tea’s recommendations, I prepared this tea gongfu style in my glass gaiwan. I was glad that I chose that particular vessel because this was a really beautiful tea to look at. The leaves opened up quite a bit, revealing saw tooth edges and thin buds in a rainbow of greens. My lid had the same indistinct floral aroma that I had experienced from the dry tea.
Jie Cha brewed up a bright gold color with tons of trichomes (the little hairs that tea buds are covered in) visible in my cup. I took notice of the super soft mouthfeel even before truly tasting the tea. There was the slightest hint of astringency, but that faded into a sweet, nutty cup of tea. There was none of the grassiness that you expect from a green tea. So much so that I was reminded of a yellow tea in that respect. The overall effect was very refreshing, like taking a sip of cool spring water.
This tea is on the more expensive side because it is so rare. I am grateful for the chance to try it. Thank you, Phil and Zhen! You will not find Jie Cha from any other western facing tea vendor that I know of. Give it a try if you are a fan of yellow teas or softer, more delicate Chinese greens like Anji Bai Cha.
Have you ever tried Jie Cha? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!