This post is fifth in a series on Teas of China
One of China’s holy mountains, Huangshan or Yellow Mountain is actually a range of some seventy-five peaks where numerous national dramas – some historic and some mythical – have taken place. In ancient times a stairway to one summit was carved into the rock by Imperial decree; all around below spreads what is China’s largest tea-producing region today, Anhui Province. One of the several teas grown on the slopes of this venerated mountain is the green tea once known by the trade name of Moyune and prized above Dragon Well in the West. It is now called by its (very) Chinese name Huangshan Mao Feng, or Yellow Mountain Hair Tip, a description that refers to the tiny down-covered tea shoot plucked to make this tea. This rather pointed, perfectly-formed leaf yields a subtle aroma and delicate flavor infusion after infusion. I have sometimes infused the same leaf over a dozen times without exhausting its flavor and believe it must be the most giving tea possible. Unlike many green teas prized by Chinese connoisseurs, this one has a pronounced flavor that asserts itself instead of merely suggesting itself. Overall, it is less fussy and more forgiving than any green of comparable greatness and one I find it impossible to overpraise.
Guapian or Melon Slice is from Liuan County in Anhui Province and might be considered Huangshan Mao Feng’s less attractive sister, with little or none of its refinement and distinction. Yet it is also ranked among China’s Top Ten Teas, proving the Chinese sometimes love unmannerly peasants equally as well as well-bred aristocrats. It is certainly a hearty tea, in any case, and one would not refuse it. The leaf shape once suggested a melon slice, apparently. Its name is often given as Liuan Guapian.
Read next: Maojian and Yunwu