Green tea: Young Hyson

Young Hyson (Rain Tea)

As refreshing as equatorial rain.
Green tea » Chinese » Basket-Fired » Chunmee (“Hyson”) teas, ★★★★
Also known as: 雨茶, Rain tea

Young Hyson is the most prized tea in the Chunmee family of green teas. What makes Young Hyson unique is that it’s picked “before the rains begin”, i.e. while the leaves are still tender and relatively high in nutrients (think how “baby vegetables” are always sweeter than the bigger ones). Production volume is therefore low and Young Hyson is more expensive than the other, more mundane Chunmee teas. It sells for $11 per 100g here in Melbourne.

Chunmee is a family of teas also known as “Hyson” teas. Phillip Hyson was an English tea merchant who was one of the first to import these teas to the UK. Chunmee, strangely, is called 眉茶 (méichá) in Chinese.

To clarify:

Tea family: 眉茶 = Chunmee = Hyson teas = Eyebrow teas.

Tea: 雨茶 = Yucha = Young Hyson = Rain tea.

The latter (tea) is the finest specimen of the former (category of teas), picked before the rains begin.

Young Hyson is sometimes graded further into subdivisions (such as First, Second and Third Young Hyson). I have never seen these subdivisions in tea markets and have therefore omitted them from my Tea Taxonomy diagram.

To complicate things further, Young Hyson dates back to the 17th century, when it had a pearl leaf shape (珠茶) rather than today’s eyebrow leaf shape, and was thus not a Chunmee at all.

Tea Taxonomy 2012 Snippet [jameskennedybeijing]
I am about to update my Tea Taxonomy diagram with a more comprehensive, more visually-pleasing version. Last year’s Tea Taxonomy diagram is still by far my most popular blog post! Click to view (the old one).
Young Hyson tastes robust but not overpowering. It survives many brews (耐泡) and develops a little more sweetness in later brews. The dry leaf colour is unique, too, with a slight grey-cyan tinge similar only to that of Ginseng Gunpowder. Very unique.

This tea’s dewy-sweetness feels as refreshing as warm, equatorial rain, when torrential downpours bring out vegetal aromas from the forest floor. Young Hyson stands out among the more mundane Chunmee teas as a higher-grade, more pungent variety.

Young Hyson is another refreshing and robust all-day green tea. ★★★★

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