Liu’an Guapian is Chinese state-level historic famous tea and also one of top 10 classic tea brands. Liu’an Guapian (also called “pian cha”) is a special-grade green tea. The laminar tea leaf with the shape of melon seed is made by processing leaves from local tea trees through forming sheet, culling off tender buds and stems in traditional unique processing techniques.
“Liu’an Guapian” enjoys centuries-old historic details and rich cultural connotations. As early as in Tang Dynasty, “The Classic of Tea” mentioned “Luzhou Liu’an (tea)”; Xu Guangqi, a scientist in Ming Dynasty, in his book “Agricultural Encyclopaedia” stated that “laminar tea from Liu’an prefecture is a top-grade tea”; Li Dongyang, Xiao Xian and Li Shishi, three scholars in Ming Dynasty mentioned this tea in the poem “Ode to Liu’an Tea” several times, such as “seven bowls of breeze come from Liu’an”, “Lu Yu listed it as the top-grade tea in his Classic of Tea” and thought highly of “Liu’an Guapian”; “Liu’an Guapian” was listed as a “tributary product” in Qing Dynasty and Empress Dowager Cixi once enjoyed 14 liang of this tea in one month; Cao Xueqin, great author, mentioned this tea 80 times in his masterpiece “Dream of the Red Chamber”. In particular, the chapter “Miaoyu Appraises Tea (Liu’an Guapian)” was quite impressive; in modern times, “Liu’an Guapian” was designated as a special gift for Central Military Commission, and Zhou Enlai, first premier of new China, murmured “Liu’an Guapian” on his deathbed; in 1971 the former US Secretary of State paid his first ever visit to China and “Liu’an Guapian” was offered to foreign guests as a state gift. Obviously, “Liu’an Guapian” enjoys its eminence in the history of Chinese famous tea varieties.
Thanks to advantages in unique geographic position, special techniques and quality, “Liu’an Guapian” is famous both home and abroad. The major place of origin is Jinzhai county, an old revolutionary base area. Located at the northern foot of Dabie Mountain, the whole county is embraced by high mountains and rising clouds and mists. Warm climate and well-preserved ecological vegetation result in truly green drinks conceived in the Mother of Nature. In addition, “Liu’an Guapian” leaf is plucked in a different way. Tea farmers fetch fat leaves from tender twigs, so such leaves have mellow and thick flavor and most nutrients. It is the only laminar tea variety among Chinese green tea whose stems and buds are removed. To make “Liu’an Guapian”, primitive wok, fern broom and millet carbon are used to stir-fry tea leaves by hand with bellows controlling fire. Such frying operations are repeated 81 times. Each single tea leaf contains no stem or bud, with emerald green luster and smooth hoarfrost. The tea is marked by clear and bright green liquor color, high and clean aroma, lingering aftertaste. Therefore, “Liu’an Guapian” tea is not only an ideal drink to reduce swelter and quench thirst in summer but also a wonderful medicine for clearing away heart fire, improving eyesight, refreshing oneself and eliminating fatigue. It also makes a healthy drink for its effect in promoting digestion, detoxification, shaping body and dispelling fatigue. “六安瓜片”驰名古今中外
The chemical components of Liu’an Guapian are effective in health care. It consists of 3.5-7.0% inorganic substances and 93～96.5% organic substances. There are about 27 inorganic mineral elements, including P, K, S, Mg, Mn, F, Al, Na, Fe, Cu, Zn and Se. Main organic matters in tea leaf include protein, lipid, carbohydrate, amino acids, alkaloid, tea polyphenols, organic acid, pigment, fragrance components, vitamins, saponin and sterol. Tea leaf contains 20-30% leaf protein, but only 3.5% of leaf protein can be dissolved in tea liquor. Tea leaf contains 1.5-4% free amino acids with more than 20 kinds, most of which are necessary for human body. Tea leaf contains 25-30% carbohydrate, but only 3-4% is soluble in tea soup. Tea leaf contains 4-5% lipid that is also essential to human body.
Sipping and tasting tea is the representation of elegance, sedateness and harmony. In general, the tasting of Liu’an Guapian tea involves four steps. Appraise tea leaf: judge the quality of tea leaf by observing the color & luster, tenderness and shape of dry leaves. Smell the fragrance: enjoy the clean aroma diffused after tea leaves are brewed. Observe the liquor: enjoy watching tea leaves writhe and stretch in hot water, being dissolved and settling down. Sip and taste: savor the luster and flavor of tea soup. Before sipping, brew tea leaves in traditional methods like “flush from height, pour at low position, wipe away foams and drench the lid”. When savoring tea, press the cup edge with index finger and thumb of right hand, and support the cup bottom with middle finger. This method is called “three dragons holding the caldron”. The key to savoring tea lies in appreciating tea liquor. Attention shall be paid to the color, fragrance, taste and shape of tea soup with emphasis on color and luster.