Green Tea "Tai Ping Hou Kui" (from China Tea Book)

Tai Ping Hou Kui is mainly produced in Huangshan District, Huangshan City, Anhui Province, and is a historic famous tea created in the late Qing Dynasty.

The main producing area of Tai Ping Hou Kui is located in the Huangshan Mountains, spanning from 30°0' to 30°26' north latitude and from 118°04' to 118°21' east longitude. It belongs to a subtropical monsoon humid climate with distinct four seasons. There is abundant rainfall, warm and humid weather, and relatively little sunshine. The average annual temperature is 15.4°C, with an average of 27.4°C in July, and an average of 2.8°C in the coldest month of January. The accumulated temperature is 5542.2°C per year. The annual sunshine hours are 1752.7 hours, with an average annual sunshine rate of 40%. The average annual precipitation is 1564.5 millimeters, with the most rainfall in summer. The average number of rainy days per year is 164, and the average number of foggy days per year is 55.5. The soil pH in the Tai Ping Hou Kui producing area is 5.5 to 6.5, with black sandy soil accounting for 68% of the area. The soil layer is more than 1.5 meters deep, with loose soil, good drainage, water retention, and drought resistance. Additionally, yellow sandy soil accounts for 32%.

The main tea tree variety used to produce Tai Ping Hou Kui is the "Shi Da Cha" variety, with large leaves and thick buds. If fresh leaves from local populations or other varieties are used to make Tai Ping Hou Kui, there will be a big gap in appearance and internal quality compared to the specifications of Tai Ping Hou Kui. Therefore, it cannot be called Tai Ping Hou Kui and is named "Tai Ping Kui Jian." Tai Ping Hou Kui is harvested from the beginning of Grain Rain to the end of Li Xia, and the picking standard is one bud with three leaves.

The processing technology of Tai Ping Hou Kui includes killing green and drying. For killing green, a flat-bottomed deep pot is used, with a leaf input of 75 to 100 grams per pot. During tea frying, the fingers are slightly curved, gently bringing the tea leaves along the edge of the pot to the palm of the hand and lightly shaking them 2 to 3 times, then evenly spreading and dropping the tea leaves. The tea should be flipped about 30 times per minute. During killing green, it is essential to grasp the techniques of "light touch, clean fishing, and open shaking." The tea leaves should not roll in the pot. After 3 minutes, when the branches are soft and dark green, lose their luster, the edges of the leaves are slightly crispy, and a pure tea aroma is produced, quickly remove them from the pot, pour them into a tea tray, shake them a few times to straighten the tea leaves, and disperse some of the moisture, then immediately start drying. Drying is the key to shaping Tai Ping Hou Kui tea, and it is divided into three stages: molecular drying, old drying, and beating old fire. Molecular drying uses a drying cage, with one drying cage per pot, and the first drying cage is set at a top temperature of about 110°C, gradually decreasing to 100°C, 85°C, and 60°C for each subsequent cage. After the tea leaves are removed from the pot, they are spread out on the top of the dryer to flatten and stretch. After about 2 minutes, the surface of the leaves loses moisture and is evenly spread out in the second drying cage. While the leaf surface is still soft, press it flat with the palm of your hand, then spread it out evenly in the third drying cage. If the leaves are not dry, you can press them again with your hand to make them flatter. After 3 to 4 minutes, transfer them to the fourth drying cage. The whole process of molecular drying takes about 12 minutes. When the leaves are 70% dry, remove them from the heat, spread them out in a bamboo winnower, and cool and moisten them for 1 hour. After spreading and cooling, the old drying process begins. The amount of tea in each top of the old drying is 7 to 8 times that of the molecular drying, and the top temperature is 60°C to 70°C. After pouring the tea leaves, lightly tap them several times, and after the tea leaves are solidified, press them with your hands on the top of the dryer to make the tea leaves straight. The fire temperature should start high and then decrease, flip the tea every 5 to 6 minutes, a total of 5 to 6 times, until the tea is 90% dry, the old drying process takes 25 to 30 minutes. After old drying, spread the tea in a bamboo winnower for 5 to 6 hours, and then beat the old fire. Each drying basket is filled with 0.75 to 1 kilogram of dried tea. The top temperature is about 50°C, and the tea is flipped every 5 minutes. After 30 minutes of drying, put it into an iron barrel, cover it with bamboo leaves after the tea is cooled, and seal it for storage.

The quality characteristics of Tai Ping Hou Kui are: the appearance of two leaves embracing a bud, flat and straight, with a uniform and lustrous green color, thick and strong buds, and uniformity. The soup is clear green and bright, with a high and refreshing orchid fragrance, a mellow and refreshing taste, and a unique "monkey charm" aroma. The bottom of the leaves is tender green and bright, the buds and leaves are plump, the leaf veins are green with hidden red, commonly known as "red thread."


(Source: China Tea Book. Author: Jiang Yongwen, Zhan Luojiu)

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