The Best Black Tea Invention In Recent History
This is why I love tea so much. Just when you think you have found the best, most incredible tea, you find another still better, like this Tongmu Jin Jun Mei. Jin Jun Mei is one of the most famous black teas in China. There are many different versions. One of these is Honey Jin Jun Mei, which happens to be one of the most popular black teas we have ever carried.
This Tongmu Jin Jun Mei is from the famous region where black tea was first developed back in 1590, and I had assumed that such a famous and popular black tea must have been around for a few hundred years. But no––The crazy part is that this famous Jin Jun Mei is an innovation––it was only first invented back in 2005! This blew my mind. So my grandpa, a lifelong tea drinker, never had a Jin Jun Mei. I had assumed that such a famous black tea must have been around for a few hundred years. Who would have thought that new varieties of tea are still being discovered and developed every year even after this long history we have with teas?
These Jin Jun Mei tea buds were not picked at a nice and properly managed tea farm in your backyard. This is wild tea that was harvested from a harsh, rugged landscape on a mountain mostly covered with forest.
The Tongmuguan area where this tea is picked has an average elevation of 1200 meters, with an average of about 4 months of foggy conditions.
Why is Jin Jun Mei called "Jin Jun Mei"?
1. Jīn (金): It means "gold." Usually consists of a mix of gold, yellow, and black leaves. The tea liquor is gold in color. Gold is often used as an indication of top quality in China, hence the association with precious metal.
2. Jùn (骏): It means "spirited horse" or "galloping horse." In China, we use the word horse to connote a rapid rise of a brand or one's fortune. Success is often associated with the use of a symbol of a galloping horse. They were hoping that this new tea could rise to fame like a galloping stallion.
3. Méi (眉): It means "eyebrow." Why eyebrow? Other than the tea itself being shaped like eyebrows, the eyebrow itself is associated with longevity in China.
Do you know how long it takes to pick 20,000 tea buds? Imagine––that's how much time is required to make a pound of this tea. Usually, a female worker needs about 12 to 15 hours to pick the tea buds. And not all tea buds can be used. The tea farmer then must spend further time sifting, evaluating, and selecting buds carefully to make a high-quality Jin Jun Mei.
Each leaf must be selected carefully. Damaged and broken leaves are discarded. The outer leaf is removed and only the inside of the unopened buds are harvested.
Female workers work all day long to manually peel the outer leaves.
Discarded part of the tea leaves
Final finished product before going to production.
As you can see, the whole production takes an incredible amount of time and labor. A lot of other lower quality Jin Jun Mei varieties take shortcuts, not taking the time or making the effort to do this strenuous work. Once you take a sip of this tea, you can taste the soft wildflower flavor with its sweet ripe-fruit aroma. The aftertaste is soft and malty, and the mouthfeel is sweet and refreshing.
Overall, I think it's important to know how much time and labor goes into this amazing black tea. I want to close my eyes and enjoy the tea and be grateful for the time and effort the farmer takes to create this amazing black tea.