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The Story Of Lushan Cloud and Mist Tea

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High up in the misty Lushan Mountain in Eastern province of Jiangxi, China, grows a specialty green tea that because of its uniqueness and high quality at one point was reserved exclusively for the emperor. Luckily, these days the sweet and aromatic taste of Lushan Cloud Mist tea (Yunwu) is available to anyone, but its quality remains first class. Sometimes it is even referred to as jade gold, and the tea is part of China’s 10 famous Teas list.  

It is said that Lushan cloud tea initially grew as a wild tea on the Lushan Mountain. When a Buddhist monk named Huiyuan established the Donglin Temple close to the city of Jiujiang, he decided to take some of the wild tea trees and plant them around his house, so he could grow tea to offer to his friends and guests. The reputation of Lushan Cloud Mist tea started growing and by the Song Dynasty (960-1279) tea connoisseurs of the time deemed the tea a tribute tea for the emperor.  

Another legend surrounding Lushan Cloud tea involves the mythical figure of Sun Wukong, better known as the Monkey King. As told in the classic novel ‘Journey To the West,’ the Monkey King, living on the fictional Huaguo Mountain, got bored of his usual food and drink so he decided to go up to the heavens to drink tea with the emperor and the heavenly queen mother. On his way up he encountered a tea branch with lush leaves, but he had no means of harvesting the tea. Some birds that flew by asked what was upsetting him, and he answered that he regretted that no trees grew on the Huaguo Mountain. The birds then helped Wukong to harvest the tea, and as they flew through the Lushan Mountain, they were so impressed by its beauty that they dropped a few seeds on the mountain, and there have been tea trees growing there ever since.  

Whichever story you like to believe, the Lushan Mountain proved exceptionally suitable for growing tea. The mountain is situated on the Southern bank of the Yangtze River, at high altitude, with differences in seasonal temperature, direct exposure to sunlight and the cover of mist for half the year. The result is a lush, full leaf that grows slowly and therefore contains more flavor. The best harvest time is around the Chinese Qingming festival on the 4th or 5th of April, and the leaves go through a production process that includes rolling, stirring, sorting, rubbing, tipping and baking.

Other regions in China also grow cloud tea, each with its unique flavor profile and aroma depending on its geographic growing conditions, but Lushan Cloud Mist tea is considered the highest quality of all of them.

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