Green and Black / Red tea are sold on tea market not only by the names of origin or processing , but also by grades which are defined by ratio of the tea leaf : tips.
- Supreme / Dan Ya " Single Tips " - tea is made only from the tips or tips with small leaves close to the tips
- Golden Threads " Jin Si" - small tips sometimes in combination of small top leaves
- Golden / Big Golden Tips " Jin Ya / Da Jin Ya " - medium / big tips mostly
- Golden / Big Golden Needles " Jin / Da Jin Zhen " - medium / big tips shaped as needles
- Grade 1 - 1 tip : 1 / 2 top leaves
- Grade 2 - 1 tip : 2 top leaves and some bigger leaves
- Grade 3 - 1 tip : 2 top leaves and some bigger , older leaves and more stems
Loose or pressed Shu puerh tea is generally sold not by precise tips:leaves ratio , as it's harder to distinguish fermented leaves, so it's judged by overall look.
- Imperial Palace " Gong Ting " - small tips mostly
- Golden / Big Golden Tips " Jin Ya / Da Jin Ya " - medium / big tips mostly
- Special Grade " Te Ji " - similar to Gong Ting ( sometimes hard to tell difference ) but better harvest, processing, selection
- Grade 1 - small tips and top leaves , might have more stems than those above, yet price might be higher due to the better harvest used for fermentation
- Grade 2 - medium size leaves are in present along with tips, larger stems might occur
- Grade 3 - bigger leaves , bigger and more stems
- Grade 4 / 7 , also called Basic Grade or Non Sorted Grade - big leaves , big stems , yellow leaves " huang pian " , leaves are naturally stick into the pellets " cha tou" .
- Yellow Leaves / Flakes " Huang Pian " " - older yellow tea leaves
Loose or pressed Sheng puerh tea is mostly categorized by origin , type trees / bushes , so not much grading involved here as there is a standard set for picking ratio of tip:leas - 1:3/4.
- Yellow Leaves / Flakes " Huang Pian " - older tea leaves
- Old Leaves " Lao Ye " - old , bigger tea leaves , usually from older tea trees (arbors)
- Buds " Ya Bao " - unsprouted buds of tea trees processed as puerh or white tea way.
Please note that those are general standard which might be presented differently by various vendors.
Green , Black / Red , White and Puerh tea are made of harvests from all over the year so there is a standard separation by picking period.
- 1st. spring harvest " Tou Chun " - usually at the beginning of March
- 2nd spring harvest " Chun Wei "- usually at the end of the spring
- Summer Tea " Xia Cha " - any summer month
- Autumn Tea " Qiu Cha " -also known as " Gu Hua " usually starts from end of September
- Winter Tea " Dong Cha " - it could be related to late autumn harvest in Yunnan or for winter harvest of Dan Cong Tea .
Please note that harvesting months might differ based on location and weather / climate change in particular year.
3.Type of trees
Black and Puerh tea is also separated into the categories by the actual tea tree.
- Bush / Tableland Tea " Tai di Cha " - tea bushes approx. 3 - 70 years of age planted in lines / rows. Bushes are close to each other and being maintained by human.
- Arbor Tea Tree " Qiao Mu" - tea trees approx 10 - 300 years of age wildly growing or being planted by human not in close distance between each other , which allows to roots spread wider . Tea trees might be or not regularly maintained by human. Some grow in maintained tea gardens, some can grow wildly in forest.
- Big Tree " Da Shu " - similar to arbor tea tree , but here the age is not that promoted as the height of the trees which relates to deeper roots so tree is getting more minerals ( richer in minerals )
- Ancient Tea Tree " Gu Shu " - tea trees approx +300 years of age by traditional understanding , but that of course is changing due to the demand and following marketing.
Please note that those general categorizing standard might be presented differently by various vendors. There is also huge marketing behind individual claims which we mention in our blog Page of Tea .
Difference between teas ( like green or black ) is mostly set by fresh leaf processing , but that processing my differ even within single category.
- Light Oxidized - typical Dian Hong black teas with lots of golden tips
- Dark Oxidized - typical Gong Fu black teas with bigger leaves or less tips
- High Temp Roast " Ti Xiang / Gao Xiang " - Fujian style concept , very dark leaves
- Sun Dried " Shai Hong " - black / red tea dried on sun or by machine on very low temperature to imitate the sun dry process. The tea also has some aging proprieties.
We created groups / subcategories ( based on processing ) which are accessible through the tags located on left banner on each tea category page. More explained in FAQ in located in footer of our page.
There is a traditional standard of distinguishing between dry and wet storage based on Cantonese or HK vendors. We are based in Kunming so our categorizing is based on our local climate , which is compared to other mentioned place , dry.
- Dry Storage " Gan Cang " - general dry stored no wet notes in present
- Semi Dry Storage - not used by Kunming vendors, yet we use it since some teas are not as "wet" as the wet storage. That could be tea previously stored in Xishuangbanna, Menghai , Puer , Lincang in conditions hotter and more humid than Kunming, yet not as much as in Guangzhou or HK.
- Wet Storage " Shi Cang " - tea previously stored in places with very high humidity like Guangzhou or HK. Wet notes are very noticeable and might even be for somebody uncomfortable.
For puerh tea we state in Details description previous storage. If that detail is missing, please contact us.
Most of our teas come from trusted suppliers and some of them even directly from tea factories or official distributors. However we like to search for some unique pieces as well and as the Chinese pu-erh tea market is a bit “wild“ ( more in our blog - Fake Tea page ) there are cases when we come across with a good tea but “wrong“ wrapper. Means : there could be a very nice Bulang Shan wrapped into the Laobanzhan label , or the dates ( especially with shu pu-erh ) would be marked as older than the tea actually is.
All that is happening for simple marketing reason. If we get our hands on any of those kinds and feel that it's worth the price ( the value of the actual tea not what says on the wrapper ) we will put it on our shop with an explanation. We would judge aprox.date of the tea based on our experience.
- Inner Ticket “nei piao“ ( nei fei ) - paper ticket usually pressed into the cake , but sometimes can be as a sheet added loose or completely missing if the tea is made for further resell concept which explained in our blog - Tea Marketing page.
7.Organic Certified Teas
Teas marked as certified or organic certified are from bigger suppliers holding various certifications ( Chinese , International , European etc. ) . Type of the certification is stated in Details section on product page. These certificates has been obtained by the tea company or tea supplier and we do not verify their legitimacy neither the tea it self.
Types of certificates which might appear on our website related to teas:
- Euro-leaf - euroleaf.com
- Eco-cert - www.ecocert.com
- USDA - www.usda.gov
- JAS - www.jas.com
- CERES - www.ceres-cert.com
- CNAS - www.cnas.org.cn
- Kosher Cert. - www.koshercertificate.com
Please note that company Yunnan Craft is not taking any responsibility for any tea being organic unless we run the tests on particular batch our selves!
8.Tasting the tea
The way we test the teas is very simple. We use 100 -140ml gaiwan , brewing 3-10g of tea leaves and brewing as many times it goes weak or turns bitter water like. Some teas we drink few times in different days when we are not sure about the quality or overall taste. Sometimes only me and my wife or we drink with friends / other family members to get a second opinion.
Please bear in mind. We live in 2000m above the sea level, our water is more than likely different from yours and our taste buds don't have to match yours either.
9.Tea taste description
When we describe our teas , it is for just give you a hint , flavor scope , overall body of the tea liquor. Since we can't guarantee 100% match , we offer samples almost for every tea in our store. 25g should give you a rough idea how the full cake will taste and we try to keep prices of our samples reasonable low despite there is a bit work with it ( chipping off, weight it, pack it, label it ). So please be reasonable with ordering amount of these samples ( we are OK with make up to 10 samples within each order ).
Apart of the regular , commonly known terms for foreign tea drinkers we also use some specific Chinese terms as written bellow :
- 茶气 " cha qi " - comes from Taoism and it means something like energy of the tea. From early Tang dynasty this has been described as inner body reaction for the tea you have just drunk. It might be light, gentle, strong, powerful etc. You might find many articles dedicated to this commonly used term and many discussions on tea forums from which overall you will understand that this is very individual feeling. When we use this term is just expressing our feeling with drinking this tea which not necessarily has to occur to you when you brew the same tea.
- 霸气 " ba qi " - less used term but it has been around from long time ago and not commonly used even among the experienced pu-erh tea drinkers. The plain translation would be something like “aggressive or dominant“ and we try to not using this term to often, only with more “powerful teas“.
- 喉韵 " hou yun ” - pleasant aftertaste in the back of the throat (esp. when drinking tea)literally Throat Rhyme, a sensation at the back of the throat after swallowing, separate from taste and aroma, that is prized by some pu’ercha (普洱茶) connoisseurs; this phrase is used as a brand by Jing Feng (菁峰)
- 味 " wei " - comes from 味道 “wei dao“ - taste and it has been added to the type of the taste.
水味 “shui wei“ - watery taste. This express the sensation of actual tea taste is sort of aside of the water. Feels like the tea is not too rich and gives an impression of drinking two separate liquids — strong tea and plain water . This is common with summer tea when rainy season has a big impact on the tea leaves ( 雨水茶 “yu shui cha“ described above ). This is classified as a downside of the quality of the tea but not as defect.
- 堆味 " dui wei " - pile taste. It's used as term for Shu Pu-erh tea and it's not welcomed taste caused by fermentation of tea leaves. This scent / flavor can be strong or mild which also depends on individual tolerance. In any case , many new shu pu-erhs have this unpleasant taste which should diminish in some time ( months or years ) .
- 青味 " qing wei " - something like “fresh taste / green taste“ is commonly used for young sheng pu-erhs and it means exactly how it calls. Some new sheng pu might have noticeable green tea characteristic ( such as notes of bi luo chun ) . This usually fades away with long term storage if it's not a matter of bad processing. ( ref. to our blog -Yiwu Puerh tea harvest )
- 生津 " sheng jin " - sweet feeling being distributed by saliva gathering in the mouth. No fixed location is guaranteed. It can occur on sides of the tongue with even slightly stinging experience like drinking a fizzy drink , at the bottom of the tongue or at the back sides of the tongue near the tonsils where reaction could be almost like astringent feeling after eating sour lemon when your saliva turns to the sweet juice after . Intensity of "sheng jin" has been a part of the quality measurement of pu-erh among the Chinese pu-erh drinkers.
- 回甘 " hui gan " - literally means “returning sweetness” and it's considered as another quality aspect of pu-erh tea. Sweetness experienced in your throat or sort of top-back of your mouth after swallowing the tea. "hui gan" as a "sheng jin" is also very individual feeling. Two people drinking same cup might have different level or location ( mouth / throat ) of experiencing it.
Please note that perception of mentioned characteristics of puerh tea are very individual ( depends on tea drinker ). We do not use any of those to promote the tea somehow in order to command higher price!
- Qing Xiang Xing - Light fragrance. Light roasted Dancong tea bright yellow tea liquor with slight touch of tartaric acid in taste and acceptable bitterness in texture and slow sweet after taste along with sheng jing. The dry leaves are in dark green color.
- Nong Xiang Xing - strong fragrance. Two times roasted ( heavy roasted ) Dancong tea with dark gold te liquor and very obvious pleasant fragrance with lasting sweet after taste. The tea can be brewed many steps . They dry leaves appears in dark brown or black color, and hold their strong fragrance after many steepings.
10.Tea Health Benefits
Plenty articles are written on internet about tea health benefits or pu-erh tea benefits and side effects. We do not use any health beneficial details of our tea in description of our products.
11.Tea gardens / plantations altitude
We provide that information only with products which we know it from our tea farmers , personal visit or tea factories details ( location of their plantations and tea gardens ).
Please note , that the altitude is just for reference and not 100% accurate!