Do you reconize this tea? Take a minute and try to guess what it is.
This is one of the most mis-identified teas in the tea forums. I have seen this tea asked about numerous times and each time with different answers. Answers have ranged from Chun Mee (close) to Gua Pian (I really hope your GP doesn't look like this).
If you ask a Huang Shan native what tea it is, they would simply reply "绿茶“ green tea.
This tea is known as Chao Qing. Chao Qing can be found in almost any green tea producing area. It is a green tea where the leaves are simply processed to produce a simple tea. Chao Qing is most commonly found at construction site, in taxi cabs, and behind registers; anywhere where you drink tea with out really thinking about it.
While Chao Qing is not exactly low quality tea, it's never really high quality. The goal is to produce a tea for mindless consumption so intricacies of processing are generally ignored. These tea also sell for around 5-10 dollars per pound and so there really is no financial incentive to put effort into high quality production.
As mentioned before locals will simply refer to this tea as green tea. If you ask someone from huang shan to name two local teas they may respond "Mao Feng and green tea".
You can tell Chao Qing by the roughness of picking and the color. The picking has no real standard and is made up of uneven leaves and stems. The color is dull with a greyish tint. Nothing about this says quality, and yet its sometimes the tea that hits the spot.
The flavor of this tea is similar to chun mee or gunpowder. Its vegetal, a little smoky at times, bitter with some lemoniness. Its flavors are bold and straight foward and will rarely have any subtleties or intricaties . It can be the perfect tea for granpa style or for drinking while your busying doing something else. I'm drinking it as I read this article.
Why is it important to know this tea?
For starters so that sellers dont sell it to you claiming it's something else. This post was inspired by a drinker who was sold it while being told it was Huang Shan Mao Feng. He was clever enough to be suspicious.
Also its important to know the price point. This is a cheap tea. Businesses will mark up and there can be higher qualities, but this should never be an expensive tea.
It is the tea for the cab drivers.
It is the tea for the long study nights
It is the tea to drink chatting with friends, sitting in the park.
But it is not mao feng, it is not gua pian, its not even chun mee.
It is Chao Qing