Ah, the lazy days of Summer, when diligent little self-employed closed-captioner elves find themselves up to their eyeballs in work. Who knew I would ever feel too busy to write about tea? I have half a dozen partially written commentaries about my favorite brown leaf juice. Here is one of them!
REVIEW: EARTHBOUND TEA, GREEN WINK
Green Wink is variously called Zhen Mei, or Chunmee, in Chinese, which translates as, "Precious Eyebrows." This is because the dry leaves are small, irregularly shaped balls that do appear a bit like eyebrows, or winking eyes. Earthbound Tea's product name is a great translation, and conveys much more in English than "Precious Eyebrows" ever would. Or "Glorious Comma."
Zhen Mei was originally produced in Jiangxi, China, but is now also created in factories in Fujian, Anhui, Zhejiang, and others. This one happens to be created in Yunnan. This is quite often the case with these boutique teas. There is simply not enough room in the ancestral homes of these teas, so other regions will borrow the production style and recreate it somewhere else. Often with good results, as the teas change subtly to accommodate a new terroir.
Chunmee green tea has a unique flavor profile. Absent what is often called a "chestnut note" common in many other Chinese green teas, Chunmee is a smooth tasting green tea with a subtle lingering sweet/sour aftertaste which some tea drinkers compare to a plum flavor. Chunmee is a well-balanced tea that holds up well to many different foods when served with morning or evening meals.
To create the unique shape of the tea leaves for a Chunmee tea, the hand-plucked tea leaves are processed by withering and then steaming to stop the oxidation process and maintain a green leaf. The final step is pan-firing, and during this process the leaves are hand-rolled using controlled movements while monitoring the temperature and firing time. The creating of the eyebrow shape has been perfected for centuries, going back to the Ming Dynasty, and this artisan prepared tea is still one of the most popular green teas in China.
MY SECOND ATTEMPT
AND A FOOTNOTE ABOUT CHINESE NAMES
When I ask my friends to compare this tea with others I've had recently, they struggle because the two- or three-syllable Chinese names just blend in with one another and are forgotten. When we use English translations, which can often go in several directions, we may not know what we're talking about. Happily, Earthbound Tea gives a catchy English translation along with its Chinese equivalent.