Tea Battle: Roasted vs Unroasted Zhu Ye Qing

Are you ready to RUMBLEEEEEE! In this battle: roasted Zhu Ye Qing versus unroasted Zhu Ye Qing from Thee van Sander. How different can those two be, I hear you think. Well, VERY different! Let’s fight.

Zhu Ye Qing is a tea from Sichuan province, from the mountain Emei to be exact, and the difference between this roasted and unroasted version lies, of course, in the process of making the tea. Where most Zhu Ye Qing is roasted in a wok to make the tea softer, Thee van Sander offers the chance to taste the unroasted version as well (with the warning that unroasted Zhu Ye Qing might not be so good for the stomach, I had no problems in case you are worried now).

Roasted Zhu Ye Qing

I started off with the roasted Zhu Ye Qing, a tea picked on March 8 2016. This is early in the plucking season, which is why the buds were very small and tender. The leaves were even in color and shape and the first brew revealed a very sweet, slightly vegetal and little fruity, melon aroma. The taste was rich and present, even sweeter than the aroma, and the vegetal tones were there as well. The bright taste gave a feeling of spring. It was thirst-quenching and was round and soft in the mouth. The more brews, the sweeter it got.

Yes, this was a very good start of this battle and I couldn’t imagine the unroasted Zhu Ye Qing to top this. But in a way… it did.

The Unroasted (left) and Roasted (right) Zhu Ye Qing

The Unroasted (left) and Roasted (right) Zhu Ye Qing

The unroasted Zhu Ye Qing was much different than the roasted one. Actually, it could have been another green tea. And that made this comparison so interesting for me: how every step in the process of making tea could be of such great influence on the taste.

Unroasted Zhu Ye Qing

This tea was picked in March as well, but a bit later then his roasted brother and you can see that clearly when looking at the leaves. The unroasted Zhu Ye Qing had a bigger bud, and the first leaf was much looser. The aroma of the unroasted Zhu Ye Qing was very vegetal, exactly like spinach. It tasted more like a raw leaf, with still a lot of sweetness in it, but this time on the background, with vegetal tones dominating. This tea had a lot of character for me.

The Unroasted Zhu Ye Qing

The Unroasted Zhu Ye Qing

And the winner is…

Of course there are no winners or losers (blabla), but this tea session the unroasted Zhu Ye Qing was the real surprise for me. I think the sweet, roasted Zhu Ye Qing is more like a high quality day to day tea. It always works, every part of the day, every moment. The unroasted Zhu Ye Qing was newer to me, flavors I never tasted before. It made me alert from the first smell to the last sip. So, based on the performances of the teas that day, the unroasted Zhu Ye Qing was the winner for me. Needless to say, both were very delicious teas and what really stood out as well were the tiny little buds of the roasted Zhu Ye Qing, really young and fresh!

See you at the next battle!

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