SNOW SHAN TEAS
This year, we selected two different early spring, high mountain micro-lots of Shan Tuyết from two provinces in Northern Vietnam—Yen Bai and Ha Giang. Shan Tuyết translates as “Snow Mountain” and references the clouds and cold foggy mists where these old trees grow. Snow Shan teas are not inherently named for their processing method and plucking standard but are better defined by the ancient tea trees, high elevation and how they grow. The tea leaves are coated in snow white silvery down, and the trees themselves are large and gnarled, covered in misty dew, lichen, moss and wild orchids. The trees have a unique look and patina with their frosted, snow white flora.
The ancient trees from both Yen Bai Province and Ha Giang Province are highly revered in Vietnam and China for the complexity of the tannin structure and the overall taste of tea these trees produce. The teas are truly heirloom variety after 800 years of natural pollination and evolution of the plants in their respective provinces. If you taste these teas and then go to a different location, the tea will be completely different.
The ethnic minority groups in the northern region of Vietnam are extremely diverse and have a long history dating back hundreds of years, believed to have come from the Yangtze River basin area in southern China. The Dao people of the Vi Xuyen district in Ha Giang province are renowned for their skillful tea production and ingenious farming techniques.
The Hmong people of the Suoi Giang district of Yen Bai province are also thought to have similar origins to the Dao people, however as the people spread to different areas, different traditions and ways of life began. The Hmong people are frequently credited with the domestication of rice and are incredible farmers in their own rite—famous for their high mountain farming including tea, rice, and non-timber forestry products.
The Snow Shan from Ha Giang is created from young, downy buds and are processed using a “green snow needle” technique. This single bud green tea is processed by light withering, gentle tumble drum toasting, and careful baking resulting in a snowy white down covered tea with a very prominent cornsilk sweetness, sweet potato, savory and a bittersweet sharpness. Don’t let the delicate nature of the tea fool you—the tea has a potent taste, vibrant energy, and a remarkable and lasting presence.
The Snow Shan from Yen Bai is created slightly differently from that of Ha Giang. The downy bud-and-a-leaf are processed using a technique similar to Ban Hong Chao, creating a curled tea leaf with a frosted appearance. Ban Hong Chao is half-baked/half-fried processing and the steps are light withering, tumble drum roasting, a dry bake creating savory and bittersweet tastes, notes of sweet corn, caramelized baked sweet potato, and aromas reminiscent of shishito peppers.
Our Travel Journal
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Seicha Tsujiki, Tsuji San’s family farm name, is located in Uji Shirakawa, Kyoto, Japan. Tsuji San’s father was the first generation to focus primarily on tencha for matcha production.