金骏眉 (Jin Jun Mei)
Tongmu Guan, Wuyishan, Fujian
Brought to us by the Cheng Ming Cha Ye group, this tea is highly prized due to its exclusive inclusion of buds (think silver needles but fully oxidised), its limited yearly harvest and processing complexities.
It’s one with a long and guarded history, currently, the production is led by none other than the 24th generation inheritor of this native Zhengshan Wuyi Qi varietal, Jiang Yuanxun. He has the privileged rights to tend this tea amongst the rocky terrain of the protected Wuyishan Nature Reserve. The entire process is done by hand - for every Chinese catty (500g) of this tea, tens of thousands of buds are needed. Numerous series of withering, gradual rolling (from slow to fast rattling) and monitoring while sun drying is needed to care for these tender buds.
The fastidious nature of this local varietal also means that the hard work isn’t limited to production but also in daily maintenance. As the roots tend to lay shallow and spread laterally, weeding must be done with the utmost care and soil must constantly be topped up to minimise root exposure. Though it is grown amongst the wilderness, the reserve's caretakers nevertheless apply preservation techniques to ensure the plants’ longevity.
Is all this effort worth it in the end? Well the proof, as they say, is in the cup.
Dry leaves: light brown, golden tinges, primarily buds
Taste: butterscotch, malt, dried apricot
Process: fully oxidised
0:20 x 2