Chun Mee - Precious Eyebrows - A Chinese Green Tea

by cazort

Chun mee, or precious eyebrows, a Chinese green tea. About this tea, tips for buying it.

Chun mee, usually translated as precious eyebrows, is a Chinese green tea. Chun mee has a fresh, tangy flavor. It is quite inexpensive, and is easily available in both organic and fair trade forms. If you like green teas and are also a bargain hunter, this is a good tea to know about.

This page gives an overview of this type of green tea, and then moves into some tips for buying chun mee and other green teas. I also share my recommendations of tea companies to buy this particular type of tea from.

About Chun Mee / Precious Eyebrows

A pan-fired Chinese green tea, a high grade of hyson, which is a low grade of green tea.

Chun mee is so named, translated precious eyebrows, for the shape of its leaves, gentle curved shapes that resemble small eyebrows.

Chun mee can be seen as high grade of a low grade of tea: it is the highest grade of hyson, a specific type of young hyson (sometimes called lucky dragon tea).  If you like chun mee and want to broaden your range of options, you may also want to check out young hyson teas.  The terms "chun mee" and "young hyson" are sometimes even used interchangeably.

As such, chun mee offers quite reasonable quality at a much lower price than other well-known named varieties of tea like dragon well or sencha.

This type of tea, like most Chinese green teas, is pan-fired, giving it a slightly toasty taste.

Closeup Photo of Chun Mee Leaf

This tea is named for how the gently-curled leaves resemble little eyebrows.
Chun Mee (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)
Chun Mee (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Do you drink green tea?

And do you drink specific named varieties, or just generic green tea?

Where is Chun Mee produced?

In China: Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan, and Yunnan Provinces, possibly numerous others.

Chun mee, to my knowledge, is produced exclusively in China, although similar teas in the style of young hyson are also produced elsewhere, including in Sri Lanka.

Within China, chun mee is produced in a variety of provinces, including Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan, and even Yunnan province.  It is likely that chun mee is produced in many other Chinese provinces as well.  Much of the chun mee on the market is blended and sold generically, without identifying the source or origin of production.

If you limit yourself to tea companies that specific the origin of their teas, you will likely enjoy much higher quality, as single-origin teas often tend to be higher quality than generic blends.

What does chun mee taste like?

Brisk, tangy, fresh, and with a complex aroma. Not for everyone, but a change of pace from many green teas.

Chun mee is tangy, sometimes outright sour, and has a cooling and refreshing quality.

Not one of the smoothest teas, it can be considerably astringent and bitter, but is nearly always full-bodied.

The aroma of chun mee, while sharing a certain recognizable character, can be highly complex.  Some examples of this tea have a hint of smokiness, not quite as smoky as some gunpowder tea, but tending slightly in that direction.  Other examples have no smokiness whatsoever.  It is common for chun mee to have a strong herbaceous character, like pungent garden herbs, and completely unlike the vegetal or seaweedy characteristics of sencha or Japanese green teas.  Some chun mee has considerable floral tones in its aroma as well.

This style of tea is best for people who like brisk teas with a bite.

Brewing - Watch out for Water Temperature!

Chun mee is extremely sensitive to brewing temperature at the high end--be careful!

With some types of green tea, the brewing temperature of the water you use is important.  People used to brewing black tea may be tempted to just pour boiling water over the leaf.  Do not do this with chun mee!

This type of green tea is particularly sensitive to brewing temperature.  Although it does not require as low a temperature for optimal brewing, compared to other types of tea like gyokuro, anji bai cha, or Darjeeling oolong, chun mee produces some of the worst results when brewed with boiling water.  If the water is too high, this tea will scald, producing an undrinkably sour and foul-tasting cup.  Even high-quality tea can be ruined in this way!

I recommend water at about 180F/72C, or slightly lower, for the best flavor.  People who like a milder, smoother flavor may wish to lower the temperature more.

Do you consider water temperature when brewing tea?

Do you use different temperatures for different types of tea?

My Favorite Sources of Chun Mee

Tea companies from which you can order chun mee online

Chun mee is not the "sexiest" variety of green tea, so it is not quite as available in the mainstream.  Nevertheless, there are numerous sources from which you can buy chun mee online.  Here are my favorites:

  • Arbor Teas - Arbor Teas is a small tea company which has a focus on sustainability.  They sell a single example of Chun Mee which is both organic and fair trade certified, sold by a U.S. company.  (Shanti Tea, a Canadian company, offers another, see Shanti Tea Precious Eyebrows.)
  • Upton Tea Imports - Upton has the largest selection of Chun Mee of any tea company in the U.S. that I am aware of.  Several are organic certified.  Two of them, Chun Mee Dao Ming and Chun Mee Moon Palace, are my favorite Chun Mee's sampled.
  • TeaVivre - TeaVivre is a relatively new tea company that ships directly from China.  I have been consistently impressed with the quality and freshness of their teas.  TeaVivre sells a single chun mee in their catalogue; I find theirs to be a classic example of this type of green tea.

If you want a detailed review of each of these, I encourage you to read my chun mee reviews on RateTea.

More Pages about Tea

Learn more about high-quality teas
All about tea: types of tea, tea companies and places to buy tea, how to select the best tea, etc.
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Updated: 03/04/2013, cazort
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cazort on 10/03/2014

(Very late reply here) I definitely agree that the leaves themselves are beautiful. One thing I love is how the different types of leaf will have very different shapes and visual appearances. It certainly makes it easier to learn and recognize the different styles and varieties of tea.

katiem2 on 01/17/2013

I've never met a green tea, just the tea, that I didn't like. I've been enjoying tea all my life, raised on it and adore green tea above all else. The beauty of the tea leaves as you've described is art, pure art. :)K

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