Learn About Tea
Chinese method of fixing green tea
October 14, 2012
The Chinese did steam teas, but moved on to pan fixing. This is a
great way of keeping the teas, but also preserving the basic leaf form
and preserving the pubescence. The Chinese like to recognize the
tealeaf. They value seeing the two leaves and a bud, both when dry and
after brewing. Chalk it to a love of nature. However, they do like to
improve on nature a little. So Lung Ching looks like a single flat
needle, but there is actually three parts. The tiny leaf tricomes
(specialized plant cells) stick out of the young leaf and, even more,
out of the bud. Botanists think they help the buds conserve moisture.
The Chinese and Indians view pubescence as a sign of quality leaves.
These tiny hairs and the tip have a different composition, for they
turn white during the process. Pi Lo Chun is also pan fixed, but the
miniscule bud is teased out from between the green leaves through
skilled work on the Kuo (wok). The Chinese use the word Mao Feng to
describe high quality green teas. The word Mao Feng in Chinese means
downy tip, so there should be the tiny hairs on those teas. Fluffy
green tea from the pubescence would not be possible with steam fixing.
The problem with pan fixing is the make presses down on the fragile
leaves with their hands, and they press down onto a very hot metal
surface. So some of the pubescence is lost, the fluffiness reduced.
Also the tea takes on a slight taste from the very hot surface. So the
Chinese came up with another way was to preserve the green color, but
not loose the pubescence. They use a long metal cylinder that is
filled with hot air. The fresh leaves are placed in one side and exit
“fixed” forever green. This eliminates the problems with pan fixing. A
great example is the tea from Jin Shan in northern Zhejiang Province.
There high on a remote mountain, is a Buddhist abbey, with a long
tradition making tea. In fact they feel that the teas from there made
it to Japan to start tea making there. They use air fixing before
teasing the leaves and buds in a Kuo (wok). This is a modification
from the traditional way Pi Lo Chun is done on DongTing Island (a
little north from Jin Shan). This modification means less time in the
hot Kuo. And one can taste the difference. Also the downy white is
slightly grayer on the Pi Lo Chun than the Jin Shan. So the sweetness
in Jin Shan is pure. Pi Lo Chun is prized for the more complex