by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author)
Your fave little teapot here. Recently, my humans put this collage together of tea in teacups (some photos they took for a client’s store site) and I posted it on my Facebook page to see if any of you humans out there could tell which is which. Of course, it is virtually impossible. TOOOT!
So why do tea vendors bother to show you the liquid color? Well, first of all, not all of them do. They show you a quick photo of the dry leaves and leave you guessing at the rest. However, there are three reasons why seeing the color of that liquid matters:
1 – Color and Clarity Matter
So much of the quality of a tea is determined by the color (and often clarity) of the liquid resulting from infusing those dry leaves. Even when done in a more Western style (as opposed to a true gongfu manner), high-quality teas should infuse a fairly clear liquid of a certain color. As you can see above, that color ranges from almost clear to pale yellow and pale green.
2 – Visual Appeal
As my humans have pointed out before, tea is an experience for all of your human senses, not just taste and smell. So vision is key here. The color of the liquid of fine teas like this is a key part of your total tea experience and enjoyment. The liquid from a fine tea will sparkle, thanks to its clarity. Enjoy these teas in good lighting, such as outdoors on your deck or patio, or even in lower lighting, such as by candlelight.
3 – The Taste Promise
Clarity, color, and even that sparkle will create a visual expectation of fabulous taste. While I confess that over the years my humans have found those things don’t always go together (such as in their various iced tea experiments), generally speaking they do. If the tea is cloudy and dark in the cup when it should be light and clear, that is not a good sign to your tastebuds. What color the liquid should be will, naturally, depend on the tea you are steeping.
As for those teas shown above, I will now end the suspense:
A – Hou Kui (from Anhui Province) – aka Ho Kui, Monkey Tea, Monkey King, Tai Ping Hou Kui
B – Mao Jian (Imperial version from Jiangxi Province)
C – Mao Feng (Imperial version from Zhejiang Province)
D – Bi Luo Chun (Premium version from Jiangsu Province) – aka Pi Lo Chun, Snail Spring Tea, Green Snail Spring
E – Ming Mei (Imperial version from Jiangxi Province) – aka Lady’s Slender Eyebrow
F – Zi Sun Cha (Premium version from Zhejiang Province) – aka Purple Bamboo Shoot, Chang Xing Zi Sun, Ghu Zu Zi Sun
G – Longjing (Imperial version) – aka Lung Ching or Dragonwell
H – Longjing (Premium version) – aka Lung Ching or Dragonwell
I – Yun Wu (Imperial version from Zhejiang Province) – aka Cloud Mist, Clouds and Mist
J – Liu An Gua Pian (Premium version from Anhui Province) – aka Emerald Petals Green Tea, Little Melon Seed, Liuan Leaf, etc.
Happy steeping, humans, TOOOOT!
© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text