What is Chinese loose grades
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Chinese teas are usually numbered, first being the highest grade and down from there. There's no set stopping point, but generally 7 or 9 is what most people deal with. Again, this is specific to the leaf style and shape and how perfectly that was executed in production.
In addition to numbering, you may also find reference to the season of harvest in the Chinese system. Pre-qingming Dragonwell ("before the rains") is a good example of this. Certain seasons yield better quality of flavor, in general, so where this is noteworthy, it is called out.
Chinese tea names are often poetic and descriptive of the leaf ('hairy crab', 'longevity eyebrow', 'red snail'). Some can also indicate where the tea came from - Yunnan, for example, is a well-known tea province in China, and actually, the birthplace of all tea.
Excellent tea is relatively rare to find, because the entire procedure is done by hand. Pure handmade tea has adopted a strict, machine free process along every step. The leaves are picked leaf by leaf through tea famer's hand. Although handmade tea production is realtivley low, its flavor is particularly pure and tasty. Though manufactured tea is produced a large quantity, these leaves will lose lots of nutrients and original fragrance during the process.