Tasting Yang Yan Gou Qing

In 2017, a fellow coursemate at Oxford gifted me a most remarkable tea from her home village back in China. It was a great surprise, and gave me the opportunity to develop a taste for this particular green tea.

Grown on the Yangyan Mountain in Taizhou province, Yang Yan Gou Qing literally translates to “Sheep Shadow (the mountain) Green Hook (the tea)”. The mountain itself is purportedly named after a stone at the summit that casts a shadow in the shape of a sheep1, whereas the tea is named after the shape of its leaves - beautifully rolled spirals, the colour of dark moss.

Yang Yan Gou Qing Yang Yan Gou Qing
The tea in both dry and hydrated form

I found, after some experimentation, that this tea is best brewed at a slightly lower temperature than most green teas, at 75°C. A slightly cooler brew seemed to bring out a certain umami kick reminiscent of the brothy flavour of Japanese gyokuro. This, alongside other subtle notes of mint and dark caramel, would be covered up by bitterness if steeped for too long.

The aroma was impressive, evolving throughout the brewing process. The initial scent was sweet and fresh, retreating to reveal dark notes of laquered mahogany, spiced poached pear, and saffron through the latter infusions. The picking was also of a high standard, with the leaves unfurling to reveal a picking of the bud connected to the top couple of leaves.

Yang Yan Gou Qing Yang Yan Gou Qing
Brewing in the gong fu style.

So, overall a wonderful tea that’s sadly running rather low in the collection. Although the website linked on the box is no longer in operation, this tea is still hopefully available through other means.

  1. http://taizhou.chinadaily.com.cn/2020-04/01/c_468702.htm