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Blog 79: Why Does Your Tea Taste “Numb/Dry”? (Part II)

In our last blog, we discussed one of the reasons why a tea might taste “numb/dry”. (see Blog 78 here if you haven’t checked it out.) Today, let’s continue this topic and discuss other causes that lead to the bad taste.

If you have followed this blog for a while, you’d understand that tea-making is as important as the tea plant growing environment. Getting the best quality fresh leaves is still a long way from delivering a good tea.

Even the best quality fresh leaves can still be made wrong by unqualified and inexperienced tea makers. This is why a premium tea always carries the name of the tea maker. Simply mentioning the name of the place doesn’t mean anything.

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A Tea Mountain Field in Zheng Yan (正岩)

For example, Wuyi oolong from “Zheng Yan” are generally considered as better teas. However, if your “Zheng Yan” Wuyi oolong has nothing but a statement that it is from Zheng Yan, it would be pointless. Just like a bottle of wine from Bordeaux, France doesn’t guarantee anything, fresh leaves from Zheng Yan cannot guarantee the final quality of a tea.

When a leaf is taken off from a tea plant, the withering process begins. The withering happens right after the harvest. The purpose of withering is to let the water content in fresh leaves to smoothly evaporate and retreat.

Despite different teas are made differently, the withering process of all tea-makings are quite similar. In our tea-making, we call this process “Zǒu Shǔi” (Chinese: 走水, meaning: walking/getting rid of the water).

Transporting fresh leaves from a tea mountain field to our tea processing facility is comparable to an ambulance ride. It needs to be extremely fast and smooth. Otherwise, fresh leaves might die on the road.

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Sun Drying - A Withering Process

After arriving at our facility, the first and the most urgent business is to spread out all fresh leaves evenly on the ground. Our tea makers would urge all workers NOT to stack leaves on top of each other. Using our tea maker Mr. Xue’s own words: every leaf needs to see the sky.

The reason it’s such an crucial matter is that, during withering, tea leaves are still breathing and breathing hard. If you think about it, a wounded person also breaths more heavily. If fresh leaves are stacked together during withering, they’ll breath into each other, thus generate a greater amount of heat. This heat will eventually block the withering.

This is only one of many tea-making steps that the withering can go wrong (e.g. the shaking process can be another example, see our previous blog here: Blog 12, Blog 13, Blog 15, Blog 16, Blog 17).

If fresh leaves are not withered properly, they’ll have a higher amount of tea polyphenol content. This will result in a numb and dry mouthfeel.

If you purchased premium teas from tea producers who claim their tea leaves are from prestiges tea mountain fields (assuming their statements are true and honest), but you find these teas taste numb/dry, it usually means something went wrong during withering.

Two most possible causes could be either their tea makers are not experienced enough, or they simply lives too far from where fresh leaves are harvested (so fresh leaves die during transportation).

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How We Make Tea Can Also Affect A Tea

Finally, how we infuse a tea can also affect a tea’s performance. If we handle a Gaiwan incorrectly or use the wrong tools, a tea might become numb, too. We actually have multiple tea blogs on the correct use of teawares. In you’re interested in learning more about them, please visit see the list of blogs at the end of this blog.

To be fair, if a tea has muddy tea soup, it cannot be forgiven; if a tea has a numb mouthfeel, we need to determine the cause more carefully.

If tea leaves are from a bad tea mountain field, there’s nothing we can do; if tea leaves are from good mountain fields but taste numb, it might be the bad tea-making; if there’s nothing wrong with the tea mountain field or the tea-making, it might just be the tea drinker’s skills.

Hope this blog and Blog 78 can help you better determine the real reasons behind a numb tea.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!

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