The famous Chinese black Tea Jin Jun Mei was invented in June 21, 2005, in Tong Mu Guan of Wuyi Shan.
Tong Mu Guan was the birth place of the world earliest black tea Lpasang Souchong. And it had been producing the pine smoke flavor Lapsang Souchong all the while in the history around 400 years. However nearly all the Lapsang Souchong produced in Tong Mu Guan were exported to overseas countries, and the domestic sale of it was very little. The Chinese were used to drinking green tea.
Tong Mu Guan
There were two big tea factories in Tong Mu Guan producing Lapsang Souchong Black Tea, Tong Mu Tea Factory and Yuan Xuan Tea Factory. The name of the owner of Yuan Xuan Tea Factory is JIANG Yuan-xuan, who is the descendant of the inventor of Lapsang Souchong 400 years ago. In the beginning years of 21st century, the two factories were suffering from the depression of black tea export. They tried to develop the domestic sales of their product, the pine smoke flavor Lapsang Souchong Black Tea. But it seems their efforts brought hopeless result.
Yuan Xun Tea Factory
In the Summer of of 2005, the Beijing tea businessmen YAN Yi-feng, MA Bao-shan and ZHANG Meng-jiang went to visit Tong Mu Guan of Wuyi. YAN had been the friend of LIANG Jun-de who was the chief tea processor of Yuan Xuan Tea Factory, since his first visit of Tong Mu Guan in 2003. And he had tasted the smoky Lapsang Souchong made by LIANG. He felt he could not sell this tea. But he advised LIANG to improve the fresh leaf standard from one bud two leaves of traditional Lapsang Soychong to single bud, making some top grade tea like Xi Hu Long Jing and Keemun Hao Ya. Because YAN was professional in promoting premium teas for domestic sale. LIANG gently declined this request. He had tried to pluck single bud in Tong Mu Guan by himself and calculated that the cost would be too high.In the 2005 visit, they gave the same advice once again. And ZHANG Meng-jiang proposed that he would pay for the experiment fees RMB5,000. With the consent of his boss JIANG Yuan-xuan, LIANG started the trial producing of this single bud tea.
The crew creating Jin Jun Mei. Meeting in 2015 JIANG Jun-sheng, YAN Yi-feng, LIANG Jun-de, MA Bao-shan, JIANG Yuan-xun, ZHANG Meng-jiang, WEN Yong-sheng, JIANG Jun-fa (From left to right).
In the evening of June 21st 2005, 0.75KG of single bud from local xiao cai cha tea cultivar were plucked. LIANG and his workers processed the tea at night. And he rolled the tea by hand on a glass table which ensured intact shape of tea bud and enough rolling. The work finished in 3:00am. And the tea was left for fermentation. The next morning 9:00am, the tea was sent for baking dry. Because the quantity is too little, LIANG did not use the traditional baking room to dry the tea, which would need too many pine woods. He just used a baking oven. When the Beijing guys got up from the bed, the baking dry was just finished. They could not help waiting to inspect the tea. The tea gave off honey and fruity flavor, wothout the pine smoke flavor of traditional Lapsang Souchong. The tea body was cute slim and the color was oily bright. It looked like eyebrow. The brewing liquor is golden yellow. And the taste is mellow sweet and smooth. They were very happy with the quality.
The Jin Jun Mei in its birth
They started to name the new tea. The tea has golden color. So it was Jin. And Mei is the common word used for Chinese tea which has slim cute tea body, eg. Chummee. But when it came to Jun, the co-inventors of Jin Jun Mei had dispute. As recalled by the Beijing tea businessmen YAN, MA and ZHANG, they named it Jun just followed name of the chief processor of the tea, LIANG Jun-de. In respect of his work, they took the word Jun from him to name the tea. While the factory owner JIANG Yuan-xun had different point of view. He explained that Jun meant this tea material was obtained from high mountain (In Chinese, the word Chong Shan Jun Ling 崇山峻岭 means high mountains), and the reason why Jun of Jin Jun Mei carried the meaning of horse was that the tea body looked a bit like sea horse. It was obvious that JIANG did not want the tea name to bring the indication of his staff . As a fact, LIANG Jun-de quit his work in Yuan Xun Tea Factory in the Spring of 2008 and set up his own tea factory Jun De Tea Factory a few miles away. As quoted by him, he could not stand the working environment in Yuan Xun Tea Factory any more, though he and JIANG are brothers of the same family.
LIANG Jun-de and his Jun De Tea Factory
And also they had dispute over the co-inventors of the tea. According to the working dairy of LIANG Jun-de, the guys who witnessed the processing of the first batch of Jun Jun Mei were the three Beijing tea businessmen YAN Yi-feng, MA Bao-shan and ZHANG Meng-jiang who proposed to use single bud to make premium black tea, JIANG Yuan-xuan, the owner of the factory and supervisor, and LIANG Jun-de himself as chief processor. So these five people were certainly the co-inventors of Jin Jun Mei. But JIANG Yuan-xun would like to add one person to the members of co-inventor, SUN Lian-qun another mysterious Beijing tea businessman. He said in the next year after the trial producing of Jin Jun Mei, the Yaun Xun Tea Factory officially started to produce Jin Jun Mei Black Tea. In 2006, they produced 68.5KG in total. And SUN Lian-qun one alone purchased 40KG at very high price. He sold all the tea to the richest Chinese in Beijing. JIANG’s insistence that SUN should be the co-inventor of Jin Jun Mei, should be from the sales and promotion point of view. As a fact, SUN is the top sales among Beijng tea businessmen. His customers include some of the richest Chinese,high ranking officials and celebrities. And later in one year, he even arranged DENG Lin, the daughter of the former Chinese Communist Chairman DENG Xiao-ping to visit Yuan Xun Tea Factory and taste the Jin Jun Mei, which once again promoted the fame and popularity of Jin Jun Mei among the Chinese celebrity circle.
DENG Lin visit Yuan Xun Tea Factory to taste Jin Jun Mei
JIANG should be a smart businessman.
Jin Jun Mei is a luxury tea. According to the estimate in its birth, 500g of this tea contains around 48,000 single tea buds from local mixed tea cultivar Xiao Cai Cha. It is not from the hybrid high-yield tea cultivar like Fuding Da Bai or Fuyun No.6. To collect the same amount of tea buds from Xiao Cai Cha is much more difficult than from those high-yield tea cultivars. It is the rareness of Jin Jun Mei which meet the interest and demand of Chinese high end consumption. SUN did the promotion very well. Ever since the birth of Jin Jun Mei, it had become one of the hottest teas in Chinese market. And it had even enhanced the popularity of black tea in China. In the past tens of years, Xin Yang Hong, Ying Hong, Yixing Hong Cha…had good sales in China domestic.
After Jin Jun Mei, Black Tea become a popular drink in China
In the beginning stage of Jin Jun Mei, as planned by one of the three Bejing tea businessmen, ZHANG Meng-jiang, there were two lower grade of Jin Jun Mei, Yin Jun Mei and Tong Jun Mei. (In Chinese Jin, Yin and Tong are Gold, Silver and Bronze respectively). The standard is that Jin Jun Mei’s material is single bud plucked in around Qing Ming from the Xiao Cai Cha tea trees of Tong Mu Guan , Yin Jun Mei’s material is the same source but the plucking timing is around Gu Yu, and Tong Jun Mei same but plucking timing in around Li Xia. Later in the practice, people found that the plucking of single bud in the late season Gu Yu and Li Xia was very un-easy, and it caused lot of waste of the precious material of the Tong Mu Guan Xiao Cai Cha. So they modified the standard of Yin Jun Mei to one bud one leaf from the Tong Mu Guan Xiao Cai Cha plucked in Gu Yu, and one bud two leaves plucked in Li Xia for Tong Jun Mei. And LIANG Jun-de advised that Chinese would chase gold, and could accept silver but would not take bronze. So Tong Jun Mei was changed to the name Xiao Chi Gan (Small Red Sweet).
Jin Jun Mei Tea Garden in Tong Mu Guan
The Yuan Xun Tea Factory had planned to patent the name of Jin Jun Mei in the beginning years. While as the co-inventors, the three Beijing tea businessmen YAN, MA and ZHANG might disagree with that. They distributed the processing outline of Jin Jun Mei to the other tea farmers in Tong Mu Guan. And also LIANG Jun-de left Yuan Xun Tea Factory in 2008 to start his own produce of Jin Jun Mei. The patenting trial of Jin Jun Mei was declined by Chinese administration. So Jin Jun Mei is a public brand, just as Long Jing and Tie Guan Yin. Each qualified tea factory in China can produce it. But it differs the concept of Tong Mu Guan Jin Jun Mei and common Jin Jun Mei. Tong Mu Guan Jin Jun Mei is considered as orthodox produce.
The Jin Jun Mei sold by Yuan Xun Tea Factory-Zheng Shan Tang
One question is that after the billionaires in Beijing and other Chinese big cities bought the Tong Mu Guan Jin Jun Mei at sky high price, how many quantity of it will be left for such a tea which needs tens of thousands of single buds collected from the low yield Xiao Cai Cha tea cultivar in the tiny Tong Mu Guan village? There are so many so-called Tong Mu Guan Jin Jun Mei in the market.
Maybe we can say, Jin Jun Mei is the best of Chinese tea, it is the worst of Chinese tea!
Changsha Wufeng Tea Co.,Ltd