What Is Palace or Ocean Needle Green Tea?

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Palace Needle, or Ocean Green Needle, is a beautiful variety of green tea! Pour out a handful and admire the shimmering greens and yellow-greens—quite truly an “ocean” of greens.

And notice how the leaves have been meticulously rolled into needle shape. When brewed, the needles slowly unfurl, revealing large pieces of intact leaves.

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This tea is grown in Hubei—a province in south-central China that has a subtropical monsoon climate and is known as the “Province of a Thousand Lakes.”

The first leaves and buds are plucked in mid-April.

As part of the production process, the leaves are rolled into needle shape, which allows the leaves to oxidate. In other words, you lightly damage the leaf by rolling it. This mechanical rolling breaks the cell walls and allows oxygen to react with the leaf’s oils and enzymes.

Drying the leaf ends this oxidation process, and in the case of Palace Needle, a rather moderate (as opposed to hot steam) temperature is used.

So what gives Palace Needle its mildly sweet flavor?

Well, like about anything, tea is cpalace-needle-dry-and-wetomplicated and a plethora of factors contribute (think terrain, climate, plant, growing conditions—just as a start!).

But rolling these tea leaves into needle shape and using a moderate drying temperature give this tea its unique flavor.

(See also my earlier post about why intact tea leaves are desirable and contribute to flavor.)

So in the end, it is not only a beautiful thing to watch the transformation from tight needle into open leaf, but it yields a delightful brew!

Like many green teas, this tea may be re-infused, especially because the leaves continue to yield flavor as they fully unroll. The Palace Needle available from TeaHaus is best brewed at a temperature of 176°F for 2 minutes (1 heaping tsp per 8 oz water).


What Is Lung Ching or Dragon Well Green Tea?

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So I am always in a hurry in the mornings, mainly because I basically hate mornings, which means I am always racing out the door. Which means the whole concept of mindfulness blah blah blah is totally lost on me.

BUT, green whole leaf tea demands a bit of attention—because it is truly gorgeous! I mean really—just look at it!

The Leaves

Even with a quick glance at China Lung Ching green tea, for example, you see a gorgeous color spectrum, from dark green to yellow-green with touches of gold.

The Production

So what is Lung Ching?

This specialty green tea, also known as Dragon Well, is one of the “Ten Great Chinese Teas,” a dynamic list that consistently includes this tea.

Plucked in March to April, the leaves are withered and then pan fried. This last step stops the oxidation process, retaining the leaves’ bright color and flavor. In addition, the pan frying causes the leaves to fold on themselves lengthwise.

The Brew

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And when you brew these leaves, they ever so gently unfold into large pieces of leaves and full leaves.

The photos above are after one two-minute infusion. You can see that some of the leaves have not fully unfolded, which means that they have not released their full flavor. A second brew is thus possible, and will result in a somewhat different flavor than the first.

The Cup

My first brew yielded a lovely color and a wonderful balance between bitter and sweet:


And as I explained in my last post, intact, complete tea leaves retain more of tea’s flavor and health benefits.

The Result

Slow down, savor—then meet the rest of the day.

Note: This China Lung Ching tea is available at TeaHaus. Recommended brewing is to use 3 g tea leaves (2 level tsp) per 8 oz of filtered water, boiled and cooled to 70°C/158°F, and allow to brew for 2 min.