STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International

Volume 3, Number 3

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46 STiR tea & coffee industry international F ujian has a long history as a tea producing region first raised to prominence in the Song Dynasty for its esteemed dragon and phoenix cake. This intricate and ex- pensive green tea was made by steaming fresh leaves, cooling with fresh spring water, squeezing out the tea juice and then grinding the dried leaves into fine powder. The tea was then fed into tiny tea molds bearing dragon and phoenix art. The dried final products were aesthetic art pieces, resembling today's ice-skin moon cakes, but less colorful. Centuries later the extravagant cakes were banned by the founding Emperor of the Ming Dynasty in an attempt to discourage extravagance and waste. It was a fortuitous ruling as it fueled a revolutionary development – unadorned loose leaf tea became the official substitute for dragon and phoenix cakes and led to the emergence of novelty black, oolong and white tea in Fujian. This coastal province in Southeast China neighbors Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Guang- dong in the north, west and south, and faces Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait. Mild temperatures with ample rain and rich red and yellow soil are found in deep layers in hilly and mountainous terrain. Fujian is the leading tea producer in China, the province's tea output reached 321,000 metric tons in 2012, ranking ahead of Yunnan and Sichuan. China produced 1.7 million metric tons of tea in 2012. Fujian also produces the most oolong tea, a semi-oxidized tea ranging with highly varied oxidation level. There are two distinctive sub-categories of oolong in Fujian, broad-leaf shape dark oolong from northern Fujian, and ball or semi-ball shape oolong from southern Fujian. Fujian is also known for gourmet jasmine tea, white tea, lapsang Souchong, and other specialty black teas including Zhenghe and Bailin Gungfu. Signature dark oolong of northern Fujian The most famous broad-leaf dark oolong is Wuyi rock tea, an umbrella name for more than 100 varieties of dark oolongs growing near Mount Wuyi in northwest Fujian bor- One in a series of articles on sourcing tea in China. In this article wholesalers learn which teas are authentic to Fujian, China's most important tea producing province. Sourcing Gourmet Tea in Fujian Iron Goddess of Mercy (Oolong) By Helen Xu Fei

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