I have said before that we owe Chinese a big thank for perfecting the cultivating, harvesting, processing and brewing techniques for tea. But also, we should appreciate their desire to make better teas. Jin Jun Mei was created only in 2005 as a result of a teamwork effort to address customer demands from Beijing. It often translates into English as 'Golden Eyebrows' but also known as ‘Golden Monkey’ in the West. What is so special about this tea? There is no single answer, so I will try to discuss the multifaceted reasons that make this tea spectacular.
1- Rareness: Jin Jun Mei comes from Tongmu Village which is a protected natural reserve and it is composed of young buds only which are plucked only once a year before the Qingming festival (usually in the first week of April). After Qingming, the weather gets warmer and buds grow quicker. The finer and smaller the buds, the better the quality of the tea.
2- Labour-intensity: This is one of the most labour-intensive tea. Starting from plucking to processing. Indeed, 1 gram of dried Jin Jun Mei will be composed of around 100 buds which means that for one kg of this tea, 50 people need to pluck the buds for a full day. Each of the tiny buds is individually hand-rolled which adds to the effort that is needed to craft this tea.
3- Flavour profile: Jin Jun Mei offers a very rich, delicate and diverse tasting profile that is difficult to be matched by other fine black teas.
The above-listed reasons make this tea one of the most expensive teas in the world. Tongmu Village in Wuyi Mountains is also famous with its smoky Lapsang Souchong which is considered a lower grade black tea however, the leaves that are made into lapsang are mature and rough and do not provide tasting profiles as delicate as Jin Jun Mei. Initially only popular among tea connoisseurs in China, Jin Jun Mei’s reputation has exceeded the nation and it became a sought-after fine tea across the globe.
This was the first Jin Jun Mei I have ever tried. I enjoyed its complexity and full-bodied tasting profile. I am glad to discover yet another tea to look forward to.
Origin: Fujian Province
Harvest time: 2019
Leave colour: Tiny dark chocolate colour buds with around 30% golden tips
Liquor colour: Dark amber
Tea aroma: Floral with slightly malty scent
Tea taste: Creamy, smooth and sweet
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 90°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 5 years or more if stored appropriately (to improve shelf-life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, ventilated place with low temperatures and away from odour)