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HIGHEST MASTERY TEA

I dedicate this article for those of you, who’s just starting his journey into this beautiful world of Highest Mastery Tea. Here you can find some basic information, which will help you to appreciate this noble drink more properly.
Camellia Sinensis growing wild high in the mountains of Ha Giang province, Vietnam.

TEA IN CHINA

Since ancient times, Chinese people have been drinking tea as a medicine, due to its beneficial properties. Since Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) tea slowly got status of self-sufficient drink and tea culture started to develop very fast.

All teas are made from one plant called Camellia Sinensis. Herbs, flowers are completely different thing, and I will speak about them later in other articles.

High quality teas are made from pure buds, or combination of a bud and few top leaves. Teas made only from buds, usually very tender and sweet. Teas made from mature leaves have deep complex tastes. Most common combination is one bud and one/two leaves, which guarantee tender, sweet and deep taste.

There are 8 main tea producing steps, commonly used to produce tea.
Withering is controlled wilting, when tea leaves loose moisture and become flexible.

TEA PRODUCING STEPS

CULTIVATING

There are two main varietals of Camellia Sinensis.

Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis (Small size leaves)
Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica (Large size leaves)

There are a lot of different varietals due to different climatic conditions, altitude and soil chemistry as well as cultivars, cultivated in different tea-producing countries to create a better version which will gives better harvests, will be strong against local diseases and weather conditions.

HARVESTING

Highest quality teas mostly are harvested and produced in spring. There are some nature factors, which effects on harvest time, but usually it lasts from first dates of March till late May, and speaking about tea grown on the high altitudes, even June. But there are also summer, autumn and winter harvesting periods which lasts till late November.


In China, it is considered that the highest quality tea buds and tea leaves are grown during Ming Qiang (before “Qing Ming” (“Pure brightness”)) period, from March 6 till April 5! This tea material is most tender and provides sweet, exquisite tea. Period after Qing Ming till Gu Yu (“Grain rain”) April 20 is also very important period, when producers produce high quality teas. There is one more period called Yu Hou (“After rain”) made after Gu Yu.


As I said before, there are a lot of nuances due to weather changes. Speaking about tea grown high in the mountains, harvesting periods comes later, due to the fact that tea leaves grow slower. It also effects on a quantity and number of crops.

WITHERING

Withering is controlled wilting, when tea leaves loose moisture and become flexible. Sometimes, if the withering is too long, tea leaves start to oxidise and it becomes a part of oxidation process.

CONTROLLED OXIDATION

Changes in the chemical composition of the tea leaf, under the influence of human or nature, from the moment of picking to the moment of brewing are called Oxidation. But if we speak about oxidation, as a part of tea leaf processing, this is controlled chemical changes inside the tea leaf to achieve needed flavours and tastes.

There are some main processes like “Make green”, “Wet-reddening” and “Wrap-yellowing” commonly used in China to control this process.

FIXING

Fixing also called “Kill green” is very important step to stop or slow down oxidation. There are some methods like “Wok frying”, “Steaming” and “Roasting” commonly used for this purpose.

ROLLING

This step is used to enhance the oxidation process and to turn leaves into different shapes for beautiful visual appearance.

DRYING

This step is done to stop further oxidation. But it’s important to understand that even after tea is dried and packaged, oxidation truly never stops as long as tea leaves are exposed to oxygen.

With some teas like wulongs and red teas, drying is a very important, when thanks to roasting (kind of drying) this step adds additional aroma and taste notes.

SORTING

After tea is ready, producers take off flowers, seeds and stems as well as sort tea leaves into different grades by size and quality.
Depending on process, it is possible to produce 7 different types of tea from the same material, but usually, tea producers work with specific cultivar, depending on the tea they specialize in.
Tea classification due to the oxidation or fermentation level.

TEA CLASSIFICATION

GREEN TEA

Most common production process: harvesting - killing-green – rolling – drying.
This type of tea has bright, refreshing infusion with grassy and nutty notes.

WHITE TEA

Most common production process: harvesting – withering – drying under the sun.
This type of tea has light, fresh infusion with floral and fruity notes.

YELLOW TEA

Most common production process: harvesting - killing-green – rolling - wrap-yellowing – drying.
This type of tea has bright, refreshing infusion with nutty notes and silky texture.

WULONG (OOLONG)

Most common production process: harvesting – withering - making-green - killing-green – rolling - drying. This type of tea has deep taste with floral and honey notes.

RED TEA (Western BLACK TEA)

Most common production process: harvesting – withering – rolling - wet-reddening – drying.
This type of tea has rich and deep taste with chocolate notes.

HEI CHA (DARK/FERMENTED TEA)

Most common production process: harvesting - killing-green – rolling - wet-pilling – drying.
This type of tea has intense, complex, deep taste with woody and milky notes.

PU'ER

SHENG PU'ER (naturally aged)

Most common production process: harvesting - killing-green – rolling – drying.
This type of tea has very deep, multifaceted taste with notes of dried fruits and wood.

SHU PU'ER (artificially aged)

Most common production process: harvesting - killing-green – rolling - wet-pilling – drying.
This type of tea has intense, complex, deep taste with woody and nutty notes.

Each of these types have different styles, due to different regions and cultivars.

Less oxidized teas like green, white and yellow are better for the first half of the day and preferred in hot season. Oxidized teas can be drunk even late evening and warms body during cold season.

CHINESE TEA REGIONS

There are more than 20 provinces with over 1000 countries that produce tea in China. Due to a specific climate and other geographical characteristics in different parts of China, there were developed different styles of tea leaf processing what divided China into four major 'Cha Qu' (tea regions).

GAO YUAN CHA QU - Sichuan, Yunnan (North), Guizhou, Chongqing, Tibet - Southwestern part of China known for its subtropical monsoon climate, warm winters and cool summers. This region is considered as an oldest tea region with a lot of hundreds and even thousands of years old ancient tea trees.

HUA NAN CHA QU - Yunnan (South), Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Hainan - Southern part of China known for its warm and wet climate, perfect for growing tea leaf almost whole year long.

JIANG NAN CHA QU - Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Fujian, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang - The biggest tea region in China known for its clear divide between four seasons of the year and mountainous area.

JIANG BEI CHA QU - Shaanxi, Henan, Hubei, Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Gansu - Northern part of China known for its high temperature differences between day and night as well as less rain. This climate effects on a quality of a tea leaf what makes it more fragrant and richer.

An Shim Tea "Checking the quality" of a tea material before being pressed into the cakes. Ha Giang province, Vietnam.

WHAT MAKES AN SHIM TEA SPECIAL

FRESH TEA


Most non-fermented or lightly fermented teas like green, white and yellow are best when they are fresh. It is generally accepted that such tea retains its beneficial properties during 1-2 years. At the same time, the aroma and taste also fade away and become less intense and bright. I have such tea in very limited quantities, so as not to keep it for more than one year. As a result I always have fresh tea, trying to get highest quality, first spring harvest.


ORGANIC TEA


Despite the fact that most of the tea today produced using chemical pesticides, I am very concerned about having a truly noble drink. All my teas are 100% organic and gone through all necessary certifications. Such tea is produced in a limited quantities and I'm very proud to share with you all these treasures.


P.S. There are few aged teas without such relevant information due to their age!


AUTHENTIC TEA


Tea market is constantly changing. As elsewhere, the old is replaced by the new and it becomes more difficult to understand what the story is about. Thanks to my friendship with farmers, producers and tea experts from different countries, I have opportunity to obtain the highest quality teas made using traditional methods. These people pay special attention to the quality of a raw material, tea plant varietals or cultivars and the nuances of the production technology. One of the main goals is to give people a correct idea of why these teas have become loved by millions all over the world.


STORAGE CONDITIONS


There is a separate world in tea industry called "AGED TEA". Special tea is being aged under special conditions for years and even decades to help tea develop into more complex and interesting drink. These storage conditions play a key role. All aged teas in our collection have been stored in special environment what changes tea taste in a right way. It is very important for me that my friends drink a high-quality and noble product!


It took more than 6 years to assemble this unique collection of tea. Each of these teas deserve special attention.

AN SHIM TEA - 'CHINA CLASSICS'

Don't miss to try one of the best Chinese classics from AN SHIM TEA COLLECTION
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