1

I was given a tea that my understanding is came from China (so I can't go to the store and get more). I am interested in getting more, but don't know who sells it (if I can buy it online) or even what type of tea it is.

The tea comes in a metal box, with a pressure-fit lid under the decorative one.

tea leaves front of package side of package back of package

6
  • 2
    I can't identify the tea from the actual leaves, but the can doesn't give much away either - it says Hangzhou Specialities Company, a city most famous for its green longjing tea, but the leaves aren't the colour of longjing.
    – mbjb
    Dec 7, 2020 at 13:30
  • For me it´s also impossible to get any details from the pictures alone. Can you tell from tasting what kind of tea it is? I would guess it´s a black or oolong tea. The term "China Famous Tea" relates to a defined list of 10 tea specialities. teapedia.org/en/China_Famous_Tea But it´s hard to tell if your tea is one of them. The only black tea of this list is Qi Men Red.
    – J. Mueller
    Dec 7, 2020 at 18:08
  • 1
    Also note that there is a incredibly vast amount of different tea varieties available. Even the difference between a first flush and an autumnal from the same tea garden will be quite big. So if you do not have a chance to ask the person who gave you the tea where you could source more of it, it´s probably your best chance to check a good tea store and look for something that comes closest to your current sort.
    – J. Mueller
    Dec 7, 2020 at 18:08
  • I have a few imported tins that look similar (but aren't identical) that I bought locally, so I'd also suggest trying to find local Asian markets and look around. Try to talk to the owner or manager if it's a small enough place - for the most part they'll be motivated to help you since you could become a repeat customer. And in my many trips for Vietnamese ground coffee, I usually get recommendations (and occasionally free samples) of something else the owner likes. (I know it's a pandemic, but when it becomes reasonable...)
    – kitukwfyer
    Dec 9, 2020 at 3:38
  • instead of an Asian market, see if you have a specialized tea store in your area.
    – Max
    Dec 9, 2020 at 13:00

1 Answer 1

4

This container is awfully ambiguous, as are the tea leaves. What I can say is tentative, but I am confident enough to post an answer: it's probably black longjing-style tea, made from lower grade material. Finding a direct comparison image is not likely to happen.

What follows is why I think I'm right. But bear in mind - I am not as knowledgeable about longjing, and I could be wrong.


The tea is from Hangzhou, which is commonly known for its longjing tea. Longjing is a very particular style of tea, in which the leaves are flattened significantly, and processed in larger pieces. High-grade longjing comprises whole leaves that have been flattened and pan-roasted, of consistent color, of consistent size, and are free of sticks, twigs, and smaller bits of leaf. It looks something like this, though can be even greener:

Image of longjing green tea leaves, bright and compressed

However.

Longjing also comes less commonly as a black tea, in which the leaves have been oxidized as a part of production. This changes the color of the leaves significantly. Overall, this strikes me as pretty unusual, but this is out of my domain of knowledge for tea, so it's difficult for me to say precisely.

When longjing is made as a black tea, it instead looks something like this:

The same picture as before, but black.

What makes me feel fairly confident in this assessment is that your leaves are flat, like I'd expect a longjing to be (and it would be the right region), as opposed to full or curled. They're also the wrong color for a green tea, but they're the right color for a moderately to fully oxidized tea, which makes them likely a black tea.

The second thing to pay attention to is grade. I'd normally expect a high-grade longjing to be more consistent in color, leaf shape, and size across the sample. The color is a subtle giveaway - the inconsistency across the sample implies that the processing wasn't super delicate and the grade of the starting material would not be high. However, the dead giveaway is that higher grade longjing contains no sticks. Yours does. That makes it quite consistent with what I'd expect from a low to mid grade longjing.

The verdict? I would assess this tea to be most likely a black longjing tea, made during bulk processing from mid-grade material. (If I had to grade it by eye, I'd guess it to be somewhere in the mid-grade, likely around 3 or 4, but I'm not as familiar with how longjing teas are graded and you should take this with a heavy grain of salt.)

(I also want to say, while the grading is a useful ruler by which to measure whether a tea matches a specific type or style, it's not as much a judgment of taste. I'm only using it to gauge what I'd expect it to look like, were it the grade I think it is. The best cup of tea is the one you like.)

Unfortunately, black longjing teas can be somewhat hard to find if you don't live in a place with easy access to them. While longjing is one of China's famous teas, access to specific varietals or less well known processing methods is likely to be less fruitful. Poke around, though - maybe you'll find something that makes sense.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.