This is one of China’s 10 most famous teas. The name means “sunflower seeds from Liu An” probably because the dry tea leaves reminiscent of sunflower seeds.
Tea has been cultivated tea in Lu’an (Liu An) 六安, Liu An Gua Pians main growing area, since the Tang Dynasty, about 1300 years ago. Tea from Lu’an has always been very popular, mentioned in literature and it have been a tributte to the Emperor. Liu An Gua Pian, however, has probably not been manufactured in more than a century, two legends, states that 1905 was first production year (2). The tea became popular quickly, which meant that production and cultivation area was spread. Originally produced tea in the mountains of Jinzhai County where the finest tea is still grown. The largest amount of tea is grown, however, in Lu’an, but there are also grown a lot of tea in Huoshan. The most famous tea is grown on Mount Qiyun 齐云山.
Unlike most other Chinese green teas, Liu An Gua Pian is made of mature tea leaves. One of the varieties used are Anhui San Hao Xiao Ye Zhong (Anhui # 3 Small Leaves Bush) (3). After picking where a leaf bud and two tea leaves are picked, the full-grown tea leaves are cleaned from the bud and twig. The leaves are fried gently with varying temperature in a large wok pan and then dried. The whole process is manual. Since the production process is relatively complicated people tried to simplify it for many years. This undermined the quality and gave the tea a poor of reputation. This has now stopped and Liu An Gua Pian is often included on lists of China’s 10 most famous teas.
Sometimes the name of this tea depends on the leaves used in the production. If the bud is used it is called Liu An Yinzhen, tea made from the first leaf is called Liu An Ti Pian, the second is called Liu An Gua Pian and the third, Liu An Mei Pian (1).