What is Jade Tips?
By Emilie Holmes
Often named in the numerous ‘10 great teas of China’ lists, Mao Jian or Jade Tips, is a popular, single-origin green tea most famously produced in Xinyang, China. The name itself translates literally as ‘Hairy Tips’, referring to the tender, young leaves that are selected during plucking, consisting of downy buds and long, pointed leaves. These dark green, wiry leaves produce a smooth, clean cup with lingering floral sweetness.
How Jade Tips is made
Picking and withering
The plucking season for this Chinese tea is between April and October, but the best tea is produced from the young, tender leaves and buds that are picked in early Spring. Just like most teas, the freshly picked leaves are then withered indoors at around 25 degrees celsius - a process involving blowing air through the leaves to reduce the moisture content. Depending on the weather conditions, this can take between 2 - 6 hours, and requires tossing the leaves every hour to ensure an even result.
Unlike black teas, which would now be rolled to bruise the leaves and provoke oxidation, for green teas the leaves are instead ‘fixed’ straight away. The process of fixing, also known as ‘kill-green’, is about stopping the leaf from oxidising, using moderate heat to deactivate the enzymes - in the same way sliced vegetables can be cooked to stop them turning brown. The supple, withered leaves are therefore heated in drums to around 120 degrees celsius for around 2 minutes, with the moisture level kept at 60%. A sign that the tea is properly ‘fixed’ is the appearance of the leaf - it should be dark green in colour, with a soft, slightly sticky, elastic consistency. The freshly cut grass smell will have gone, leaving behind a delicate aroma of tea.
After fixing, the leaves are left to cool slightly before being rolled in a rolling machine for 15 - 20 minutes. The pressure of the roll will depend on how tender the leaves are, but will be applied until the surface beneath is wet with juice from the leaves as they’re rolled.
Finally the leaves are dried, which is done in two phases. First the leaves are heated to around 120 degrees, reducing the moisture content of the leaf to around 15%, then left to cool indoors for around 4 hours. Those same leaves are then heated a second time, this time to around 100 degrees to dry the leaves further (to around 6% moisture). This second and final drying plays an important role in enhancing the aroma of the tea.
Where our Jade Tips is from
Our particular Mao Jian, or Jade Tips as we call it, is from a garden high in the Bai Yun or ‘White Cloud’ mountains, in Hunan province, China. With bushes growing at around 800m, this high altitude, as well as the surrounding forests and a moist, humid climate, together make for rich, fertile soil and result in a smooth, clean cup.
How best to enjoy Jade Tips
We love this green tea for any time of day. We recommend brewing at around 75 degrees - the lower temperature will ensure a sweeter, smooth cup so it is well worth letting your water cool for 5 - 10 minutes after boiling before starting your brew. And you can re-infuse those same leaves up to 4 times, with the flavour profile changing with each infusion.
To learn more about green tea, you can read our article: Everything you need to know about Green Tea