All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, and this traditional ancient Chinese beverage can be broken down into six basic types. The oldest variety, green tea, is brewed when unoxidized tea leaves steep in hot water for a specific amount of time.
Xinyang Maojian tea, also called Yu Maofeng, is a famous variety of green tea. Well-known for its flavor, appearance, aroma, and consistency, it earned a spot on China’s list of “Ten Famous Teas.” Produced in the historical Chinese province of Henan, this tea variety has also been called the “king of green tea.”
Origins & Name
Grown in the city of Xinyang, this tea can be traced back 2300 years ago. When translating its name, ‘Mao Jian’ means ‘fur tips’. Essentially, the name of this tea is directly related to the region it is grown in and the appearance of the dried leaves.
Harvesting & Processing
Xinyang Maojian tea is harvested during the spring, summer, and fall. Due to the multiple harvests, there are a handful of varieties to choose from.
These leaves are hand-picked due to their small and delicate nature. On average, one of these tea leaves measures somewhere between ½-1 inch long. It also takes roughly 50,000 fresh buds to produce just 500 grams of prepared tea leaves.
After the harvest, Xinyang Maojian tea leaves are rolled and pan-fried to prevent oxidation and to lock in the flavor and aroma. Because of this process, the dried leaves are narrow, straight, and pointy. These distinct dark green leaves are also covered in tiny white hairs.
Brewing Xinyang Maojian Tea
Chinese tea is traditionally brewed in a gaiwan. This three-piece vessel includes a porcelain bowl, lid, and saucer. Xinyang Maojian tea is commonly available as loose-leaf tea.
In order to make a cup of this green tea, there are four steps that need to be followed. Again, while it is traditionally made in a gaiwan, it can also be made right into a cup.
- Pre-heat an 8 oz glass (that will be used to drink out of) and gaiwan by filling both with warm water. Once they have been sufficiently warmed, empty out both vessels.
- Refill the gaiwan with 4 oz of water that is not quite boiling. The temperature of the water should be around 185°F (85° C). If you are brewing directly into a cup, fill the cup with 8-9 oz of hot water.
- Place 3 g of Xinyang Maojian tea leaves into the gaiwan and watch, as the leaves will quickly fall to the bottom of the cup. If you are brewing straight into the warmed cup, add 2 tsp of Xinyang Maojian leaves.
- Place the lid on top of the gaiwan and allow the leaves to steep for 2-3 minutes. Before drinking the tea, strain it into the warm glass. (If you brewed the tea straight into the cup, use a tea strainer to extract the leaves. Don’t discard them, however, as they can be used to brew tea a few more times.)
Smells & Flavors
While the dried Xinyang Maojian leaves smell fruity and fresh, a brewed cup emits a strong vegetal aroma with hints of nuts. Unlike some green teas, this variety has a strong and pleasant smell that will quickly fill the air.
With a slightly thick consistency, the sweet and delicate flavor will leave a delicious aftertaste. The whole experience of drinking the tea, from the smells, to the yellow-tinged brew, to distinguishing between the complex and enjoyable flavors, is a satisfying and relaxing experience.
Nutritional Facts & Caffeine
Without the presence of additives or sweeteners, this Chinese green tea variety has a low nutritional value. In one serving, this are zero calories, fats, and carbs. Due to various methods of preparing tea leaves and brewing tea, the caffeine content can range somewhere from 12 to 75 mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving.
Since Xinyang Maojian tea leaves are picked during multiple harvests, there are several different varieties. Each has its own distinct characteristics.
- Ming tea- regarded as the highest quality of Xinyang Maojian available, it is produced from young buds
- Spring tea- this tea is produced before the end of May from young, tender leaves
- Summer tea- this tea is produced at the end of June and July from larger mature leaves
- Autumn tea- this tea, also called Balu tea, is produced after August from whatever leaves have grown after the summer harvest
Go For the Gold
Xinyang Maojian tea has been regionally and globally recognized as a high-quality tea. In 1915, it won first place at the World’s Fair in San Francisco, California. In 1990, this green tea variety competed in the national appraisal and was awarded first place for its quality. On top of this, in 2017, it was regionally recognized in China, ranking second on a list of valuable tea brands.
This Chinese green tea variety has been around for centuries. Often referred to as Yu Maofeng, it is best known for its strong aroma, thicker consistency, pale yellow appearance, delicious taste, and surprisingly refreshing aftertaste. In fact, these qualities helped it make the list of China’s “Ten Famous Teas.”
Many people enjoy this brew to relax and unwind. For some, it has also been used as a dietary supplement, as it is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Not only is it a great beverage to quench your thirst, but it is also regarded by many to be beneficial to the human body.
Harvested during the early spring, summer, and autumn months, there are several varieties of Xinyang Maojian tea, each with its own distinct taste. Although this beverage has a low nutritional value, it is caffeinated. This makes it a great alternative for a morning brew or an afternoon pick-me-up. If you are just getting into green tea or already love the taste of green tea, this “king of green tea” is a variety you should check out.