There is good reason why royalty was associated with the finer things in life. Kings and government meant taxes, and if gold couldn’t be had, your locality paid in other forms. If your locality was recognized for horses, you worked to contribute your best horses as a form of tax. The emperors of China were no different. Throughout the centuries, various teas became recognized as “tribute teas.” His royal person then had the privilege of drinking these tribute teas or offering them as gifts.
While no definitive list of tribute teas exists, here are ten of the most commonly recognized:
Each of these teas tells stories of its own, including colorful legends of its origins, and exploits of how it became acclaimed as a tribute tea. Suffice it for now to notice the dominance of green teas on the list (1-7) over yellow (number 8), wulong (number 9), and black (i.e. Pu’er).
Armed with this information, you are better prepared to delve into the best China has to offer in teas. After all, if these were treasures dedicated to the king, shouldn’t they spend a little time enriching your palate?
Further research of your own is still advised before acquiring these teas for yourself. For example, Xinyang Maojian originates from Henan province. Similar maojian teas from other provinces attempt to imitate the style and flavor. Accept substitutes at your own risk, but just as when choosing wine, be mindful that life is considerably brief to spend time drinking poor tea. Follow the lead of kings and seek tribute teas.
Guest post provided by Jason Walker of Walker Tea Review. Jason’s site hosts online tea tastings and video tea reviews.
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As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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