High mountain tea (高山茶) is one criterion, among others, for superior quality tea. Just because a tea can be said to be “high mountain tea”, does not automatically make it is an outstanding product. However, when combined with other indicators, it is a good hint for quality. What exactly is high mountain tea, and why is it a sign for better quality?
What is high mountain tea?
Tea has always been associated with a number of mountains, famous for their production. That is because some mountainous regions offer the best conditions for growing tea. They combine the following advantages:
- Mild temperatures.
- Misty and cloudy atmosphere.
- Diverse vegetation.
- Pure and clean environment.
The designation “high mountain” expresses a further gradation from simple mountain tea. It signifies that the tea grew over a certain threshold of altitude. While there is no absolute definition, it usually designates tea growing at an altitude over 1000 meters.
Why is high mountain tea a sign for quality?
If you are a mountaineer, 1000 meters does not qualify as “high”. In the world of tea, however, the range between 1000 to 2000 meters is the ideal altitude (tea grows up to about 3000 meters). In China’s tea producing mountains, it is at this height that the advantages mentioned above are at their fullest.
Furthermore, high altitude also implies a certain remoteness. High altitude tea grows far from the big roads and is comparably difficult of access. Typically, it is made with tea plants growing around the peak of a mountain. While this may impact the production costs, it is also a guarantee of clean and natural surroundings.
“High mountain tea” should not be taken as a the unique signal for superior quality. It should much more be considered in connection with other signals like “spring tea“, “artisanal tea”, etc.
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