Green Tea "An Ji Bai Cha" or "Anji White Tea" (from China Tea Book)

Anji White Tea is produced in Anji County, Zhejiang Province, and was founded in 1980.

Anji County is located at the northern foot of Tianmu Mountain in the northwest of Zhejiang Province. Its terrain rises from the southwest to the northeast, with a gentle middle part, forming a basin surrounded by mountains on three sides and an open northeast. It is located at latitude 30°23' to 30°52' north and longitude 119°14' to 119°53' east. It belongs to the subtropical monsoon climate zone on the southern edge of North Asia. The climate is mild throughout the year, with distinct four seasons, an average annual temperature of 15.5°C, and a frost-free period of 226 days. The average temperature in January is around 1°C to 3°C, and the annual rainfall is about 1510 millimeters, with a relative humidity of about 80%. The annual sunshine hours are 2000 hours. The region is rich in mountain resources, with a vegetation coverage rate of 73% and a forest coverage rate of 69%. The main soil types are Quaternary red soil, gravel soil, gray rock, and some weathered bodies of volcanic rock and sandstone. The weathering degree is high, the soil layer is well developed, the soil is red or reddish-brown, the clay content is high, and the secondary minerals are mainly mountainous red and yellow soils dominated by kaolin, with a deep soil layer and high organic matter content. The pH value is 4.5 to 6.5.

Anji White Tea originated in the Song Dynasty. According to the "Da Guan Tea Treatise" written by Emperor Huizong of Song (Zhao Ji) during the "Da Guan" period (1107-1110), there is a section dedicated to white tea: "White tea is a kind of tea different from ordinary tea. Its buds are spread out and its leaves are thin and shiny. It occasionally grows between cliffs and forests." Anji White Tea was lost for many years. The existing thousand-year-old single Anji White Tea mother tree grew in a bamboo forest over 800 meters high in Daxi Village, Tianhuangping Town. In the 1970s, it was discovered by scientific and technological personnel. After decades of protection, investigation, and research, it was reproduced through asexual reproduction methods as the "Ziye No. 1" improved tea seedling and was recognized as a provincial-level improved variety by the Zhejiang Provincial Variety Accreditation Committee.

The development of Anji White Tea has gone through three stages: the trial and demonstration stage from the early 1980s to the early 1990s, the small-scale development stage from the mid-to-late 1990s, and the rapid development stage in the early 21st century. It has grown from a single mother tree to a planting area of 4,000 hectares by 2007. Anji White Tea has special requirements for raw materials. Only by processing according to the green tea processing technology of the Ziye No. 1 variety can it be processed into Anji White Tea. The Ziye No. 1 variety has a particularly high amino acid content in its fresh leaves, generally around 6.5%, so the finished tea has a particularly fresh taste. The picking standard of Anji White Tea is from a bud with jade color to a bud with three leaves. It requires the bud and leaves to be intact, the leaf flesh to be jade white, the veins to be emerald green, fresh, and uniform. The picking time for Anji White Tea is generally from the middle to late March to the middle to late April.

The processing technology of Anji White Tea includes spreading the fresh leaves, killing green, rolling and twisting, initial drying, spreading cooling, roasting, and finishing. Spreading the fresh leaves: After picking, the fresh leaves should be spread immediately on a clean and ventilated soft mat or bamboo basket indoors. The thickness is generally about 2 centimeters, and the spreading time is 6 hours to 12 hours. The leaves should be soft, emit a green scent, and have a water content of about 60%. Killing green: Use a 600-type stainless steel electric heating multi-purpose machine. The bottom temperature of the pot is 160°C to 180°C, and the amount of leaves per pot is 1400 grams. Occasionally, heat is evenly distributed to emit a green scent. It takes 7 minutes to 8 minutes to cook quickly. The degree of killing green should be when the color of the leaves turns dark green, the leaves are soft and straight, and they can be squeezed into a ball. The water content is about 40%. After killing green, the leaves are spread out to cool. Rolling and twisting: Use a 63-type electric frying pan. The amount of leaves is 250 grams, and the pot temperature is 80°C to 90°C. Use both hands to roll the leaves in the same direction along the bottom of the pot, and then close them together to rub the tea leaves back and forth in the palm. The pressure should be moderate, and it takes 6 minutes. When the strips are straight and tight and the water content is about 30%, take them out of the pot and spread them out to cool. Roasting: Divided into initial drying and full drying, using a type 3 hot air dryer. The initial drying temperature is controlled at 100°C to 110°C, and it takes about 10 minutes to roast until it is 70% to 80% dry before the next drying. After the next drying, spread it out to cool and moisten for about 15 minutes. Full drying: The temperature is 80°C to 90°C, and it is roasted until the stem breaks when bent by hand, and the leaves can be crushed into powder by hand. It takes about 10 minutes to 15 minutes. The full drying temperature is controlled at 80°C to 90°C, and the water content of the finished tea is 5% to 6%.

The quality characteristics of Anji White Tea are: the appearance of the strips is tight and slender, showing buds strong and uniform, fresh with golden edges, resembling feathers, the leaf veins on both sides are tender green like jade frost, bright and oily, and the rest are yellow-green, which is significantly different from the veins. The soup is tender green and bright, the aroma is fresh and lasting, the taste is mellow and refreshing, and the leaf bottom is white and the veins are green, the buds are longer than the leaves, and they are uniform and intact.

Research by the Tea Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences shows that Anji White Tea is a temperature-sensitive mutant variety. When the temperature is below 25°C, the formation of chloroplasts is inhibited, so only the sides of the leaves are green, and the rest are yellow-green. When the temperature is above 25°C, the formation of chloroplasts resumes.

(Source: China Tea Book. Author: Lai Jianhong, Jiang Yongwen. )

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