Other factors also contribute to the overall character of the tea. Wuyi teas, grown in the Wuyi mountains of northern Fuijan, China, are known for their distinctive mineral taste. Certain teas are grown close together but taste very different. Jingmai, for example, a pu’er grown on Jingmaishan mountain in Yunnan, a place where you’ll find many of China’s most ancient tea trees. Famed for its orchid-like fragrance, the tea grown on the north side of the mountain is sweet and pure, while that from the south is more pungent and astringent. Oriental Beauty, an oolong from Taiwan, is only picked once a year, at the end of summer. The tea-green leafhopper is allowed to feed on the tea bushes, and the insect bite changes the chemistry of the leaves, filling them with subtle pear, apple and sandalwood notes.
Over in India, Darjeeling is grown in West Bengal, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where factors such as the altitude, cold winters, high annual rainfall and mists all combine to create a unique muscatel flavour, with delicate fruit and floral aromas. Assam tea, on the other hand, is grown in the hot and steamy lowlands of India, in an area which melds the fertile floodplain of the Brahmaputra with tropical monsoon conditions. This contributes to the characteristic brisk, malty taste. All these natural variations transform into unique idiosyncrasies of flavour.
Terroir makes tea great.