Health conscious individuals often drink green tea, but did you know that there were many different varieties? Three of the most popular types of green tea are Lung Ching, Xinyang Mao Jian, and Putuo Fo Cha.
Lung Ching (Longjing, Dragon Well)
Lung Ching tea, one of China's most famous green teas, has been celebrated in prose and poem, including works by famed Tang poet Su Dong po. It is known for "four uniques": its green colour, mellow taste, aroma, and beautiful shape. It is considered to have a cooling effect and is frequently served in hot weather.
The flat, green leaves produce a clear, yellow-green tea with a slightly sweet, aromatic fresh flavour and a lingering aftertaste which is one of this tea's particular characteristics.
Lung Ching means Dragon Well (the dragon is the king of the waters in Chinese mythology). The home of this tea is the village of that name west of the famed West Lake in Zhejiang province. Another growing area southwest of the lake is known as Nine Crooks and Eighteen Gullies (Jiuqu Shibajian), which includes Meijia Village and Lion Peak. At Lion Peak, Qing dynasty Emperor Qian Long drank this tea at the Wugong Temple. So pleased was he that he conferred the title Imperial Tea on the produce of the eighteen tea trees growing outside the temple.
Lung Ching has some unique and wonderful features. The finest grade, Qiqiang (Flagged Spear) Lung Ching has a bud and only one leaf, thus being younger and superior to the customary "two leaves and a bud" tea. In the cup, the buds float in the water with the leaves pointing upright like spears, hence the name. The next grade, with two leaves, is known as Queshe (Sparrow's Tongue) Lung Ching.
A pound of dry Lung Ching contains 25,000 bud-and-leaf sets, each snipped off individually by skilled fingers. Lung Ching, unlike other teas, is not rolled to shape the leaves. Pan-frying the leaves requires great skill to match the temperature to the tenderness of the leaves. Lung Ching tea won the Gold Medal with Palms at the 1988 meeting of the International Institute for Quality Selection.
The best infusion of Lung Ching is made with water from Hupao (tiger Run) Spring, one of four nearby famous for their clear, sweet water. This is a fault area of the Tiyun Mountains, with plenty of quartzite rock which provides good filtration for the spring water. Visitors to Hangzhou are almost always taken to Hupao Spring for a cup of Lung Ching tea.
Xin Yang Mao Jian
Henan's Xinyang prefecture has been famous for its Maojian tea since the Tang dynasty. Today it is one of the country's most thriving areas of agricultural and sideline production, quite often visited and written about, so its tea is being sampled by more people.
Though Xinyang is on the edge of the arid North China plain, the mountainous southern and western parts, crisscrossed by streams and brooks, have plenty of the clouds and mist needed for good tea. The processed leaves are in fine, taut strips. They make a delicious tea with a chestnut flavour and a long-lasting aftertaste.
This tea has been produced with only very simple equipment. What make it different are the skilful hand movements of rolling, adjusted to the heat and softness or dryness of the tender leaves.
Putuo Fo Cha
Mount Putuo, rising like a mirage out of the sea, is one of the three hundred islands of the Zhoushan Archipelago just outside the Yangtze estuary. It is a famous Buddhist retreat and one of China's four mountains sacred to that faith. Legend has it that the bodhisattva Guanyin meditated and preached there before attaining enlightenment.
The island and its three hundred temples are maintained chiefly by monks, who grow fruit and other produce Puto Fo Cha, held to be one of the five most famous in China. Served to guests, it is sold only on the island, and is highly prized as souvenir gift. It is reputed to be a remedy for diarrhoea and lung lesions. The great Ming dynasty pharmacologist Li Shizhen wrote in his Canon of Medicinal Herbs that it was used to treat haemorrhages and dysentery.
The glossy green finished leaves are tadpole shaped, and this clear tea has an invigorating, fresh aroma.
Disclaimer: When pregnant or nursing only small amounts of green tea should be used, it may also interfere with the action of MAO inhibitors and blood thinning medication. Also the consumption of green tea may interfere with the absorption of medicines. This article is intended to be for information about the nutritional benefits of green tea only and should not be regarded as medical advice in its own right. The information has been taken from secondary sources and is given here in good faith. You should seek the assistance of a qualified physician if you require medical advice on any condition mentioned in this article or wish to use green tea in a medical context.