Tai Ping Hou Kui is a well-known Chinese tea, which has long history, mystery legend and unique making method. Tai Ping Hou Kui owns the characteristic brisk and fresh flavor of green tea, as well as good health benefits. Handmade Nonpareil Tai Ping Hou Kui differs from semi-manual Tai Ping Hou Kui. The former one requires tea makers more proficient skills of making, and abundant knowledge of the tea’s character. Purely handmade tea is hard and complicate to make, but has better quality.
Nonpareil Tai Ping Hou Kui has flat and straight tea leaves in dark green color. Dry tea has the natural and even shape of two leaves holding one bud. The thick leaves present gentle flavor with orchid fragrance. It tastes smooth and sweet, has strong and long-lasting sweet aftertaste. This unique flavor and appearance is determined by its making process.
Nonpareil Tai Ping Hou Kui is produced in traditional method: picking - extracting – spreading – fixation – drying.
The fresh tea leaves of tai ping hou kui are called Shidacha (柿大茶). Shidacha tea tree, scientifically named as C.sinensis, is also called Shiyecha tea tree. It belongs to seedling family, bush, large leaf specie. It originates in Xinming Village in Huangshan City, Anhui Province. The kind of one bud and three leaves shape mainly sprouts in the end of April in medium output. Spring tea leaves are in one bud and two leaves shape, containing 3.6% amino acid, 23.8% tea polyphenol, 13.6% catechinic acid and 4% caffeine. It is usually made into green tea.
The tea leaves of Tai Ping Hou Kui are picked under extremely strict standard, especially on the time of picking. Tea workers go up the mountain in early morning when mist rises.
After picked, the fresh tea leaves will be extracted piece by piece under the strict standard of one bud and two leaves or one bud and three leaves. Eight kinds of leaves should be sifted out during the extracting: oversize leaves, undersize leaves, thin leaves, curly leaves, leaves without buds, leaves in light color, purple leaves, sick leaves.
Two or Three Leaves and One Buds
Spreading is to wither the fresh tea leaves. This process will last for 4 to 6 hours.
The key of forming the appearance of Tai Ping Hou Kui is the process of fixation and roasting. How the tea leaves are fixated determines the tea’s appearance.
There is a standard of fixation: stir 50-100g tea leaves to in the pan at 120℃;
|The Leaves Before Fixation||The Leaves After Fixation|
When the tea leaves become hot and start to release tea fragrance, the process of fixation ends and the leaves can move on for the next step. Move the tea leaves onto roasting basket. Use hands to gently press the leaves when roasting. This process will be repeated for 4 times till the leaves become completely dry and brittle, then stop pressing the leaves.
|The First Drying||The Second Drying|
|After the Forth Drying Processing|
|Why Tai Ping Hou Kui tea leaf is flat: during the making of Tai Ping Hou Kui, the tea maker will gently and repeatedly press the tea leaves with their hands, making the leaves into flat shape. Due to the unique flat and straight shape, Tai Ping Hou Kui is recommended to be brewed with glass cup.|
After fixation, polyphenol oxidizing enzyme in tea leaves will not be destroyed due to the very thick leaf; therefore the enzyme will oxidize the tea polyphenol, turning the polyphenol into theaflavin and thearubigins, which make the leaf vein in dark red color. Thus the leaf vein will look like red lines. This phenomenon is usually seen in the leaves of handmade Tai Ping Hou Kui.
Nonpareil Tai Ping Hou Kui leaves are in dark green, or forest green color. It is because during its making, the tea leaves will be pressed by hands. In this way the leaves sustain less pressure than being pressed by machine. So the cell sap still remains in the leaf cells. After roasted and pressed, the cells are gradually darkened. That’s why the handmade Tai Ping Hou Kui has darker color, as well as mellower and more lasting aroma.
You may notice that the Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea you are brewing for the moment seems distinct from the Nonpareil Tai Ping Hou Kui mentioned above. It is the result of different making process of them. Nonpareil Tai Ping Hou Kui has dark green color. The other difference between them is the leaf’s shape. Semi-hand Tai Ping Hou Kui has thinner and wider leaves, which are in bright green color. Yet you may ask how is this tea made in such thin appearance?
When the picking of fresh tea leaves of Shidacha starts, the leaves picked on that day will be neatened and straightened by the tea workers, and then be laid on a roasting grid with an even space between each piece of them.
|Leaves are neatened and straightened by the tea workers|
Then the workers put the grid on the shaping machine and press the leaves with the roller.
|The Straightened Leaves||The Shaping Machine|
The pressed tea will be roasted in a special roasting basket. After all these careful process, the semi-hand Tai Ping Hou Kui is made.
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