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20th May 2020


Jade Sword ™: In Context

If you’ve checked-out our recent in-depth look at Jade Sword ™ , you’ll know we love this tea for its very accessible freshness, rounded sweetness, thick texture and light umami. Sourced directly from Baotian garden within the mountainous forests of China’s Hunan province, our latest batch was crafted in spring last year by producer Zhou Wei. It’s a green tea with a thick and satisfying texture, spring-freshness, and a light sweetness. We have seen people who think green tea is something bitter and unpleasant being amazed by how sweet, fresh and satisfying Jade Sword ™ is.

Here, we are going to compare it to three other teas to allow you to see it in context and help you find out if it’s the right tea for you. If you’re on the hunt for a new green tea to try,  or you like green teas and want to explore more, it might be Jade Sword ™ that you’re looking for, or one of the other teas we mention.

Wet Leaf & Dry Leaf Green Tea: Jade Sword


Sencha is a Japanese green tea admired for its richness, thick texture and umami flavour.

Japanese green teas are steamed, instead of fried, during the fixation process. This helps to lock in a deeper green colour in the tea leaves, while adding the characterful, umami richness and steamy vegetal notes to the final flavour. Fried (or also called ‘fired’) green teas like Jade Sword, tend to have slightly more rounded quality and sweetness with less vegetal notes and a little less umami. The frying gives a rounded sweetness to the vegetal qualities of the green leaf, whereas the steaming gives it more grassiness.

If you prefer an easy-drinking, refreshing green tea with a brighter fragrance and more rounded and sweet-grassiness, Jade Sword is a great everyday choice. But if a richer vegetal experience with more umami is what you’re after, then Sencha would be the tea for you.

Tom, our Head of Tea, admiring the view of Baotian garden, with the tea production team

Dragon Well

 This Chinese green tea draws many similar comparisons to Jade Sword ™ and not just in flavour, with both being spring picked, pan fried and produced by gardens in ancient tea growing origins. Unlike leafy Jade Sword ™, Dragon Well has flat, spear-like leaves. This comes from the specific and more intensive shaping it receives during the pan firing process. This approach to firing creates the characteristic sweet and nutty flavour of Dragon Well (think hazelnuts or roasted chestnuts), with some front notes of fresh grass. With a less intense firing, the flavour of Jade Sword ™ is slightly greener and more vegetal.  Dragon Well is slightly lighter and more refined.  Both share notes of spring flowers and breezy meadows.

These green teas are easy to infuse well and are both smooth to drink. If you want a slightly lighter tea with a little nutty sweetness to offset the grassiness, then Dragon Well is a great choice. If you want to dial back the nutty sweetness and get more pronounced greenness, go for the Jade Sword ™.

Local wildlife is welcome in this organic garden

Ali Shan

It’s an oolong rather than a green tea, but our lightly-oxidised Ali Shan shares the qualities of green-freshness with Jade Sword ™, while (as you’d expect from an oolong tea) offering more body, a thicker texture and a bigger range of flavour notes. Consider the difference between early spring and late spring – the vegetation and flowers are similar, but they become fuller and richer as the season develops.

Both are great examples of high grown teas, with the gardens sitting way up in their mountain ranges. At that height, the weather is much cooler and the plants are hydrated by heavy mist, resulting in a fully aromatic infusion. You can find this in abundance with Ali Shan, which has a high fragrance with notes of tropical fruit and cream. The aroma of Jade Sword ™ is also bright, but much more fresh and grassy. Ali Shan is picked from a different cultivar of tea bush and is picked later when the leaves are more mature; the processing is also more intensive. This extra maturity in the leaves and processing is a big contributor to the thicker texture and bigger flavours.

In the cup, both teas have floral notes, but they are amped up in the Ali Shan, with some naturally fruity flavours of pear and mango too, along with characterful hints of fresh cream. Some of the leafy green taste that you might find in Jade Sword ™ comes through as well and both are similarly sweet and satisfying to drink.

So in essence, if you want something that’s fresh and light but want to dial-up the body, texture and enjoy bigger flavours, then Ali Shan is a great tea to try – especially if you enjoy a fruitier, more creamy and indulgent character.

Sorting through some freshly picked tea with the family

Organic Darjeeling First Flush

There are many differences between these two teas.

Often labelled as a black tea, Darjeeling First Flush is really an oolong tea in the sense that the leaves are lightly (semi) oxidised (traditionalists nearly choke on the very suggestion!). This fact is easy to tell from the wet leaves, which show some greenness and a little redness (oxidation). First Flush Darjeeling can appeal to green tea drinkers because it is light and fresh.

Compared to Jade Sword ™, the aroma of Darjeeling First Flush is noticeably more fruity and complex. The taste also has more fruitiness with hints of a refreshing crisp, sharpness. Both teas are very refreshing, but Darjeeling First Flush is a good choice if you’re looking for a tea with subtle fruitiness, compared to the sweet grassiness and floral notes of Jade Sword ™.

So, if you want something on the lighter side, with lots of the fresh energy of spring, both Jade Sword ™ and Darjeeling First Flush are good options. Jade Sword ™ is much more vegetal, green and rounded, whereas the First Flush is more intensely aromatic and complex with a hint of refreshing sharpness.

A farmer turns the organic soil in between the rows of tea bushes
The rolling, green terraces of Baotian garden, Hunan