My coffee-deadened taste buds were rejuvenated after two days of sampling tea from all over the world at the inaugural Hong Kong Tea Fair. Following are some of the best Chinese teas represented at the fair.
Elegant Tie Guanyin (Light Scent)
By Eight Horses Tea
Founded in 1736, Eight Horses Tea exports make up over 10% of the total output of Chinese oolong tea. The firm also accounts for more than 30% of the Japanese oolong market, according to Zhong Chun Yu, planning manager at Eight Horses.
Elegant Tie Guanyin originated in Anxi, Fujian province. Dark green and plump, its tea leaves have a subtle, lasting fragrance. When mixed with boiling water, the leaves turn a bright green.
I found it aromatic and light. Most of its taste really comes from its aroma so it would be perfect alongside a heavy, flavorful meal. It was so light, I was on my third cup before I realized how much of it I was drinking.
Lancang Thousand Year Ancient Tree Tea Cake – Purple Tea
By Lancang Ancient Tea
Due to environmental conditions leaves from the ancient tea tree, some leaves become purple. When cooked it becomes green again.
Lancang's managing director Lily Chan offered me the tea brewed in two ways: raw and mature. The raw brew is robust and leaves a bitter aftertaste. The mature brew, which I preferred, has less of an aftertaste and is more subtle.
Either way the taste is exotic and, as such, best enjoyed on its own or with less flavorful food like crackers or hard bread.
Panyong Congou Chinese Black Tea
By Fujian Manyuanchun Tea Co. Ltd
Although Fujian Manyuanchun has been in the tea business for only 17 years (young by Chinese tea firm standards), its Panyong Congou black tea originated in 1851 when it was first exported to England via Xiamen. It is said that Panyong Congou was christened “Queen of Tea” after Queen Victoria appointed the tea as a royal treasure of Buckingham Palace.
In the seventh year of the Guanxu Emperor's reign, 70,000 cases of Panyong Congou were exported from China, surpassing other teas of the era.
ShiZeng Zhao, president of Fujian Manyuanchun, was on hand to greet visitors and offer them a generous selection of Panyong Congou (sometimes spelled “Congu”). I was feeling a bit heady by this time so I chose the most attractive looking brew: a glimmering soup of gold.
Called Jin Gui, the black tea variant I tried turned into a golden, silky brew. Even after brewing the leaves eight times, the fragrance lingered. Best taken as an after-meal tea since it is strong yet deceptively light on first tasting.
Quick Dissolving Puer Tea (Deepure)
Puer (sometimes “Pu-eh”) is a famous tea from Yunnan province in the Chinese highlands. The Tasly plantation benefits from the alternating sunny and rainy weather at an altitude of 1,500 meters above sea level.
Product manager Coco Liu captured the attention of people who passed by the Tasly booth by saying, “This tea dissolves in three seconds! Try it!” Fair visitors who happened to be carrying water emptied the Deepure sachets into their bottles.
The tea is dark in color and shaking it in water creates a delicious froth. With the very little water left in my bottle, I expected the tea to be strong tasting. It wasn't. Instead, this medicinal tea that is said to lower blood sugar and cholesterol has a very subtle taste. But don't let its light taste deceive you. Five minutes after I drank what I thought was light tea, I felt the kick. Puer tea is said to balance the metabolism and I undoubtedly felt more energetic after a few sips.
Print ed: 09/09