If you’re a regular tea drinker, you must have heard the term “high mountain tea”. To many people, “high mountain tea” is a just another fancy name in world of tea. But in terms of what “high mountain tea” really is and why it is unique, many tea drinkers and tea store owners demand a better explanation. Today, let’s unveil the mystery surrounding “high mountain tea”.
First of all, a high mountain tea is not rare at all. The fact a tea is a “high mountain tea” does not automatically make this tea superior. A “high mountain tea” is any tea produced in a higher-altitude tea mountain field. There is no official universal definition of a high mountain tea. As long as there is a tea mountain, the tea products from there can all be called “high mountain tea”.
Since “high mountain tea” is such a broad and vague concept, in the real world, only certain tea-producing areas’ “high mountain tea” are worthy the name.
To help you better understand why, we need to first explain what affects the growth of tea plants. Among all, the soil quality, the temperature, the humidity, the sunlight condition, the precipitation, and the overall small climate of the tea field affect tea plants the most. If the change in elevation does not also change those conditions, “high mountain tea” is nothing but a name.
The high mountain tea in our region, Wuyi mountains (click here for details), is a good example of how high-elevation tea fields transform tea products.
The Wuyi mountains region have a relatively low elevation. The most common tea fields in Wuyi mountains are plains, valleys and burrows. There are also a few small high-altitude (above 400M/1412ft) tea fields situated in nice natural environments where small climate dominates.
Tea products produced here are called “Wuyi high mountain tea”. Famous high mountain tea fields include “San Yang Feng/三仰峰” (above700M/2297ft) and “Tong Mu Guan/桐木关” (above 1000m/3280ft).
Compared to most other tea mountains fields, high-altitude tea fields in Wuyi mountains have 4 major differences:
1. Higher humidity level
Higher humidity level means fresh leaves can preserve much of water they have absorbed. As a result, fresh leaves here are tenderer. When infused, high mountain tea leaves are softer and thicker.
2. Big day and night temperature difference
The big temperature difference slows down the growth of tea plants. A slow-growing tea plant can better accumulate and convert nutrient substances. Leaves become softer, thicker and full of pectin substances. Tea products made with such fresh leaves generally have a richer taste.
At the same time, the lower night temperature also helps with pest control. Many harmful insects and pests simply cannot survive in this environment.
3. Cloudy and foggy weather
One important fact tea lovers often overlook is that cloudy and foggy days can make tea plants better. In this weather environment, the diffuse reflection of light increases. This condition is particularly crucial to good aromas in tea because it helps generate and form nitrogen compounds such as theanine.
4. Shorter sunshine time
Although sunlight is a necessity during a tea plant’s growth, too much sunshine would cause fresh leaves to develop too much catechins, which make a tea taste bitter and dry. By reducing the duration of sunshine, substances such as theanine which makes a tea taste sweeter can have a more noticeable contribution to the overall taste of tea.
Of course, just growing in a high-altitude tea field does not make a quality high mountain tea. Only the best and the most experienced tea makers can unleash the potential in those fresh leaves.
Remember, a good tea is always the work of the nature, tea plants and tea makers. A high mountain tea still needs a tea maker’s hard work to shine.
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