On October 7th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Guzhang county, Hunan Province, China. This sample of Gu Zhang Mao Jian green tea was provided by Hunan Xiangfeng Tea Industry Co. Ltd.
Gu Zhang Mao Jian translates into Sky Between the Branches. Both the Hubei and Hunan provinces of China produce a tea of this name. From my understanding, the specific sample that I am tasting is from the Hunan Province. This is a good quality green tea that is relatively inexpensive when found in the retail market. It is not quite as prestigious as a Bi Luo Chun, but has some similar characteristics to it’s more expensive counterpart.
The sample pack is opened, and it smells quite sweet, so let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this Gu Zhang Mao Jian tea are a dull to dark green, with a fair amount of silver tips. The leaves have a uniform curled, lightly twisted shape, and a uniform size. There is a moderate amount of fragments, with some fully intact leaves, and no crumbs. The aroma is sweet, like dried fruit, and lightly floral (maybe roses?).
The standard preparation method was used for this sampling. Filtered tap water was heated to 175ºF (80ºC). Fifteen grams of tea were placed in a 32 ounce (950 ml) glass teapot. The leaves were infused for 1 minute and 30 seconds. The tea was then strained into a separate decantor.
The first infusion produced a liquor that was a pale light yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma was sweetly vegetal, lightly nutty. The body was heavier than many similar Chinese green teas, with a medium body and a crisp texture. The taste is sweetly vegetal (close to asparagus) and lightly floral (rose), with a light astringency. The aftertaste is vegetal, nutty, with a linger that has a light salty mineral note as it trails off. Very interesting aftertaste.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly darker shade of pale light yellow. The aroma remains vegetal and very lightly nutty. The body remains medium and crisp. The taste remains sweetly vegetal (asparagus), lightly nutty, with very light floral notes. Aftertaste remains vegetal with a salty mineral taste as it trails off. The third infusion should be able to produce an acceptable flavor, though I expect it to lighten signficantly. I am somewhat surprised with the strength of the second infusion, however, so perhaps the third will surprise me as well.
The third infusion produced a liquor that was lighter in color than both the first and second infusion. The aroma is lighter than previous infusions, but remains vegetal, with a barely noticeable nutty hint. The body has lightened up, and the taste has lightened significantly. The vegetal taste is still strong enough to provide an acceptable flavor, but a fourth infusion seems highly unlikely to produce an acceptable taste. The aftertaste has lightened as well, but remains vegetal with a very light mineral note.
The infused leaves are a uniform fleshy green in color. The pluck appears to be one leaf and a bud. There is a moderate amount of leaf fragments, but mostly fully intact leaves, many still attached to the stem. There are a good amount of buds present. The aroma is fresh wet leaves. The leaves are fairly delicate, suggesting that they are most likely exhausted of flavor.
I can easily understand why this could be a common selection of Chinese green tea. The taste is mild, with a slight astringency, typical vegetal taste, and some nutty notes. Aside from the mineral aftertaste, this green tea simply provides a standard Chinese green tea taste, which is why the price is more reasonable. There is nothing bad or low quality about the taste, but I feel that it is fairly simple and delicate. I have no complaints about this tea, and overall give it a positive review for what it is, a standard Chinese green tea.
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