Calling a tea a ‘Yellow Mountain Mao Feng’ is a fairly noncommittal method of naming. There are approximately 10,000 individual Chinese Green teas (out of almost 20,000 total kinds of tea). Mao Feng refers to the pluck, (one bud, two leaves) and in this case the grade (if Mao Feng is an ‘A’, Mao Jian (one bud, one leaf) is a ‘AA’ and Hu Yu (single bud) is a ‘AAA’, or something). These three grades are only picked during the first and second flush harvests in the early-to-mid spring. Additionally, Mao Feng, 毛峰, literally means “fur peak” which is an accurate description of the pine-covered Yellow Mountain (Huangshan). My as yet un-researched anthropological definition for Mao Feng is thus “tea picked in the style of Huangshan Maofeng”. In the name, Yellow Mountain refers to the growing region–the Huangshan (黄山) mountain range in southern Anhui. Huangshan is also home to Sparrow’s Tongue (which at least has a distinct name). Anhui itself is known for producing many of China’s most sought-after Greens (including the previously reviewed: Lu’an Guapian and Tai Ping Hou Kui). So in reality, Yellow Mountain Mao Feng doesn’t have a name so much as a designation. ;) If you were to unpack all those meanings into a single name, it’d be something like “Chinese-Green-tea-from-the-Yellow-Mountain-picked-in-the-traditional-style-grade-A-spring-harvest.” >.>
To make it somehow even more exhausting, like any good Chinese tradition, Huangshan Maofeng has its own legend…
According to local legend, a young scholar and a beautiful local girl fell madly in love. A local landowner saw the girl picking tea and wanted her for himself. He forced the girl’s parents to make their daughter marry him. On the night before the wedding, the young girl snuck out of the landowners house only to find that the landowner had murdered the scholar. She went to his grave and cried until she became the rain. The scholar’s body became a tea tree.
So yes, I know what you’re asking. “Yeah. Wow. That’s all well and good… but none of that actually describes what it tastes like. What is Huangshan Maofeng actually like?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Since they’re cousins from the same mountain, it’s no surprise that Huangshan Maofeng tastes very similar to Sparrow’s Tongue. Which is to say: It has a delicate earthy scent, a highly antioxidant and medium caffeine makeup. It tastes… simultaneously refreshing and a bit acidic. It reminds me a lot of an Oolong, minus the gas. I’m not sure i like it (and would probably opt for Sparrow’s Tongue between the two), but really, being given the chance to experience the real thing in and of itself is fairly amazing, so who cares? xD