This is a blogpost where you could learn about all the concepts surrounding new green teas: why does first flush matter? what's makes Ming Qian tea so valuable? how does time and storage affects green tea?
Before we dive into the theories, there are couple of tasting notes we noted down while testing all the samples that we have been keeping in the fridge + this year's first flush (only 2 month old).
2019 First Flush Ming Qian Long Jing, sealed, kept in fridge vs.
2021 First Flush Ming Qian Long Jing, sealed, kept in fridge vs.
2021 Long Jing, sealed
as depicted in the picture below, from left to right, up to down
The non Ming Qian tea stands out as you can clearly see the leave is way bigger. This is because tea harvested early Spring endured colder temperature, thus grows slowly. The buds are harvested before the Spring rain as well, thus leaving the leaves small but compact with flavors.
From left to right, one can clearly see the color and shape changes. High quality Long Jing should have jade green color and a flat body. The 2019 one, although stored in a fridge and sealed, still loses its color over the years. The 2021 one still remains its color, but the shape as became more tightened as the result of being in the fridge for a year.
First Flush Long Jing 2019, 2021, 2022
The standard depiction for quality Long Jing's tea soup is: golden. The 2022 one is clearly the most golden one whereas the 2021 one is too on the transparent side, and 2019 one the brown side.
The aroma from the 2022 one is so overwhelmingly stunning: roasted nut, fresh linen, the moment you open the jar. Both the 2021 ones still have the signature Long Jing nutty flavor when you smell the leaves. The 2019 one has some impurity smell in it after years in the fridge.
We leave out the taste of the 2019 one as it's not of fine drinking grade anymore. The 2021 Ming Qian tastes more reserved, doesn't have too much aroma but retains more the green tea freshness. In comparison, the 2022 Ming Qian gives a full flown nutty, buttery, vegetal taste with long umami aftertaste.
So what causes these massive differences? Here are the FAQs to these observations:
Due to the different picking times, the freshness and quality of the tea leaves are relatively different. Generally speaking, tea before Qingming is less infested by insects, the buds and leaves are delicate, the color is green and fragrant, and the taste is mellow and beautiful. The standard output is very small, so "Mingqian tea is as precious as gold".