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Early Tea Chase, Mingqian Tea/Pre-Qingming Tea

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Mingqian tea refers to tea leaves picked before the Qingming Festival in south China. Mingqian tea is characterized by its tender leaves and rich flavors. The output is low and its value is often compared with gold. The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional Chinese festival on the firstday of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar.

The leaves that sprout just before this time are more tender andsweet, often with less bitterness and astringency. For that reason, they arevalued in the market as the highest grade of green tea. The next highest gradeis that which is produced a couple weeks after Qing Ming, which is called “Pre-rains tea (雨前茶)”. The buds from this flush are also often tender, but not as much soas Pre-Qing Ming teas.

A Chinese saying suggests that "mingqian tea is as precious as gold".

The tea leaves that are handpicked before the Qingming Festival are highly rated for their rich fragrance and tenderness.Additionally, because of the low temperatures in early spring, less mingqian tea is produced than in the later, warmer months, making it highly sought after, especially in the high-end market.

Famous mingqian tea production bases include the West Lake area in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, the southwestern mountainous region of Xinyang, Henan province, and the Dongting Lake area in Hunan province. Cultivating and processing tea are an important source of income for villages in these areas.

Longjing (dragon well) and biluochun are top Chinese green teas, especially due to the fact that they are picked only in spring, from late March to early May. The first batch of Hangzhou's prized Xihu Longjing, for example, contains mostly tender buds, and very tender "one bud with one leaf", the first of spring. One bud with one leaf is called "flag spear". When the tea grows to one bud with two leaves in early summer, it is called "bird tongue".

The true aroma, taste, and quality of the tea can be displayed only through correct brewing and tasting. There are diversified Chinese teas and each tea has its unique flavor that requires a unique way of br

ewing. Only by understanding the characteristics of the teas, grasping the reasonable brewing procedures, and practicing them repeatedly can one succeed in making a good cup of Chinese tea. Tea brewing can not only meet people’s material demands, but more importantly, cultivate their moral characters and mould their temper in the process.

Brewing Green Tea

The green tea is normally brewed with a 100ml to 150ml glass. Put two to five grams of green tea leaves into the glass and pour in 150ml boiling water. For the fine and tender high-quality tea, more tea leaves can be used depending on the drinker’s need.

The green tea can be brewed in various ways. The commonest ways include upper application, medium application, and lower application.

Upper application of the green tea

First, warm up the tea cup with hot water. Then, pour in hot water, wait for the right temperature, and put in tea leaves. In this way, the tenderness of the green tea is best preserved. The tea leaves will unfold and sink slowly one by one, a beautiful scene to enjoy.

Medium application of the green tea

First, warm up the tea cup with hot water. Then, pour in hot water between 70'c-80'c to fill one third of the cup, put in proper amount of tea leaves, and let them absorb water and fully unfold. Finally, pour in hot water from a highly lifted teapot to free the soluble substances from the tea as quickly as possible. In this way, the tea leaves can timely unfold to show the tender tea buds, guaranteeing a fresh and strong tea taste.

Lower application of the green tea

First, warm up the tea cup with hot water. Then, put proper amount of tea leaves into the cup and pour in hot water between 70'c-85'c . Turn the teacup anticlockwise for several circles to let the tea leaves fully contact with the water. This brewing method can fully release the color, aroma, and taste of the green tea.

Different green teas have different characteristics and require different brewing methods.the upper application applies to the green tea with superb tenderness such as BiLuoChun, XingYan MaoJian, and MengDing GanLu. The medium appliaction applies to the tender and compact high-quality green tea such as HuangShan MaoFeng and LuShan YunWu. The lower application applies to the high-quality green tea with fat and strong buds and leaves such as the XiHu LongJing, ZhuYeQing, LiuAn GuaPian and TaiPing HouKui. In addition, brewing method can also be chosen on the drinker’s personal likes and dislikes.

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