Dating back to ancient China, green tea is produced from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. What makes this beverage distinguishable from other types of tea is how the leaves are processed after they are harvested. Purposefully left unoxidized, green tea leaves are either steamed, pan-fried, or roasted, resulting in a tea that has a mild, grassy, or sometimes subtly sweet taste.
While some retailers sell this tea under a slightly different name, Jing Shan tea is native to China’s coastal Zhejiang Province. These special leaves are produced by tea trees that grow in the Jing Mountain. This regional green tea got its name from the Chinese word “shan,” which means “mountain.”
History and Expansion
The production of this tea variation can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and is deeply rooted in both Chinese culture and Buddhism. Master Fa Qin, the founder of the Buddhist temple in Zhejiang, planted numerous tea trees around the sacred temple in 724 AD. He did this with the desire that tea leaves could be later picked and offered to Buddha as an act of gratitude and respect.
During this exciting new time, a group of Japanese monks came to visit the Chinese temple. When they returned home, the tradition of tea ceremonies and drinking tea were introduced and later adopted in Japan. In fact, this cultural swap, which was centered around Jing Shan tea, expanded tea culture.
The tea trees that produce Jing Shan tea flourish in a wet and rainy climate. There is only one harvest each year, which takes place every April. The leaves of the Jing Shan tea, like other green tea leaves picked during the spring months, tend to brew sweeter and more delicate teas when compared to other seasonal harvests.
The rules for the harvest are strict: only one or two leaves can be picked for each bud. Even then, the leaves can ‘t be any longer than one inch. With such specific criteria, it takes nearly 62,000 fresh leaves and buds to produce just over two pounds of dry tea.
Processing & Taste
Before brewing Jing Shan tea, the leaves need to be heated to between 140–150°F. This stops the oxidation process. After heating, the leaves are rolled and re-rolled. This is important for two reasons:
- Increasing taste and smell
- Shaping the leaves
Once the leaves have been rolled, they are separated before drying, which is important for a few different reasons. Not only does this process removes any lingering moisture, it also locks the flavor and aroma into the tea leaves.
Loose-Leaf Brewing Instructions
To brew Jing Shan tea, there are two different styles that you can choose from. If you are feeling more adventurous, you could brew this beverage in a style called “gong fu.” The other method is a more traditional western style of brewing.
Gong Fu Brewing
This method is both complex and complicated. Meaning “to brew tea with skill,” gong fu involves using a smaller brewing vessel and a higher ratio of leaves to water. This results in a shorter brewing time and a stronger taste.
In order to use this traditional method, a tea pot, tea cups, pitcher, wooden tray, and a tea strainer are required. While there are as many as 21 steps and more items involved in the Gong Fu Tea Ceremony, a beginner can brew tea using this method by following three simplified steps:
- Pre-heat the tea pot, pitcher, and tea cups with hot water. Make sure to pass the hot water from one vessel to the next, until all have been adequately heated. Discard the water.
- Rinse the tea leaves by placing the measured-out portion into the brewing vessel. (This method calls for 4 g of tea leaves for every 4 oz of water.) Once the leaves are in the tea pot, pour water on top of them and place the lid on top. Using the strainer, pour the water out of the kettle and into the pitcher, and then pour the water from the pitcher into the tea cups. Discard this dirty tea leaf water before brewing the tea.
- Next, pour a measured-out portion of hot water into the tea pot. (The amount of water will depend on the how many grams of tea leaves were used.) The tea should steep for 25 seconds. Using the strainer, pour the tea from the tea pot to the pitcher. From the pitcher, the tea cups can be filled and enjoyed.
Western Style Brewing
While the gong fu method of brewing tea is meticulous and complex, the western style of brewing tea is far less complex. It can be done in just a few simple steps.
- Boil some water (preferably spring) and let it cool for about two minutes. (The recommended temperature is 180°F.)
- Measure out 2 g of Jing Shan tea leaves and put them in a reusable tea bag. Place this bag into your cup.
- Pour 8 oz of the heated water into your cup and allow the tea to steep for two minutes.
- Remove the tea bag and enjoy.
Appearance & Nutritional Value
When dried, the green and silver-tipped Jing Shan tea leaves appear slim, loosely curled, and covered with little white hairs. The brewed tea is a light shade of green and smells of fresh citrus. Its taste is often described as delicate and slightly lemony, with hints of roasted vegetables.
While there is little nutritional value in this cup of tea, it is caffeinated, as green tea typically has between 30-50 mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving.
Jing Shan Tea
This green tea, which can be traced back to ancient China, is best known for the mountainous region where it is grown and its close connections to Buddhism. Harvested only once a year in the spring, it is cherished for its silver-tipped leaves, delicate and citrus taste, and light green brews.