World Selenium Capital-Enshi, High Hill Tea Garden Area
Selenium is a nonmetallic element discovered in 1817 by Swedish scientist Jöns Jacob Berzelius and named after Selene, the Greek goddess of the moon. Selenium (Se) is an essential trace element for humans and animals and Chinese Nutrition Society lists selenium as one of the 15 essential nutrients for the human body. Enshi is rich in selenium resources and has three major resources “the only proven independent selenium deposit in the world so far”, “The world’s largest natural selenium-rich biosphere” and “Se-Enriched Cardamine violifolia”. In September 2011, Enshi was awarded the title of “World Selenium Capital” at 14th International Meeting on Trace Elements in Man and Animals （TEMA14).
Enshi City, the capital and political, economic, cultural center and transportation hub of Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hubei Province, is located in the southwest of Hubei Province, in the hinterland of Wuling Mountain, and is located in the “golden tea production belt” at 30° north latitude. Enshi has a subtropical monsoon mountainous humid climate. The altitude difference is significant, as are the climatic features and the vertical difference. So there is a saying that goes, “One mountain has four seasons and temperature is different in ten miles.” Here, the yearly average temperature is 16.2 °C and the yearly average precipitation is 1,600 mm. 70.14% of land is covered by forests. Enshi is the World Selenium Capital, with 96% of the soil containing selenium and 59% of the soil being rich in selenium. The tea grown here is naturally high in selenium, giving the tea a strong “aura.”
Among selenium-rich teas, En Shi Yu Lu Green Tea is the most famous. En Shi Yu Lu (Jade Dew) was originally called En Shi Yu Lv (Jade Green). En Shi Yu Lu’s quality features are as follows: tight, thin and straight with obvious white hairs, shaped like pine needles, dark green in color. The tea liquid is clear and bright, with a fresh and mellow flavor. The brewed tea leaves are tender green and even.
En Shi Yu Lu is a specialty product of Enshi City, Hubei Province, as well as a Chinese national geographical indicator product. It is the only traditional method made steaming green tea that is still produced in our nation. It has a distinctive manufacturing process and workmanship and is listed under the national intangible cultural heritage act.
En Shi Yu Lu Green Tea is the most comprehensive steamed green tea, retaining the steaming technology common throughout the Tang and Song Dynasties.
Plucking “采摘” : the fresh tea leaves should be tender and evenly with long tea buds and short leaves, one bud with one leaf, or one bud with two unopened leaves. Tea leaves should be plucked in the morning on a sunny day.
Steaming “蒸青” : steamed with a special steaming stove. A pot is put on the steaming stove, followed by a wooden steaming box with a moveable steaming drawer fitted. Before steaming green tea leaves, make sure the water in the pot is completely boiling. Then, rapidly distribute the fresh leaves thinly and evenly throughout the drawer. It is preferable if the leaves do not overlap one other. Fresh leaf density per square meter is between 0.2 and 0.25 kilogram. Steam for about 40 to 50 seconds, or until the tea leaves are gray-green, as soft as cotton when pinched, with smooth leaf surfaces and a delicate fragrance.
Fanning “扇凉” : to avoid residual heat and water vapor from gathering and suffocating the tea leaves, quickly fan the steamed tea leaves to cool down, reduce the temperature, and spread moisture.
Chan Tou Mao Huo, also called “shake off water” “铲头毛火” : arrange 2 kg to 3 kg of steamed tea leaves on a bamboo sieve at between 100°C and 140°C. To remove the water, quickly grip the leaves in both hands and shake them. Stir fry the teas until they get a dark green color that is appropriate—not sticky or bumpy. The whole process takes about 12 to 15 minutes.
Rolling “揉捻” : with both hands, roll a sufficient amount of tea leaves on the bamboo sieve like a rolling ball from left to right or right to left, always in one direction.
Chan Er Mao Huo “铲二毛火” : continue to evaporate the water, roll to tighten the strips and fix tea shapes. After 8 to 10 minutes, the leaves can be spread out on the bamboo sieve for about 10 minutes.
Shaping and Glazing “整形上光” : often referred to as rubbing, are essential steps in creating the oily, emerald-green appearance of pine needles in En Shi Yu Lu Green Tea. The shaping and glazing process takes around 40 to 50 minutes. Now the tea leaves should have a water content of 7% to 8%.
Fragrance enhancing “提香” : finally, the aroma is improved by baking the tea leaves until they have a moisture level of 5% to 6% and then cooling them.
Screening “拣选” : after fragrance enhancing, use a shaking screening machine, winnowing machine, tea stem selection machine or simply by hand to remove tea dust, broken tea leaves, old stems or other things. Finally, separate the tea leaves into various grades and package them.