All the Tea in China, as described by Guobiao standards

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mbanu
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Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Mon Feb 15, 2021 9:05 pm

Figured this might be a fun separate thread. As a side-effect of the tea industry formerly being nationalized, in order to market tea as something other than the all-purpose "China Black Tea", "China Green Tea", etc. it had to fit an established standard.

Eventually, these along with the many other standards for nationalized products and practices morphed into the Guobiao standards, some of which which categorize the recognized Chinese teas. While I don't know the history of how exactly this happened, I figured it would be an interesting subject to explore. :)
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mbanu
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Tue Feb 16, 2021 8:56 am

For example, here is the back of a package of 3 Cranes Liubao. In addition to the shengchan SC code that traces the tea back to a particular factory that has had a sanitation check, it has a GB/T code that describes which tea category it falls under. In this case it is GB/T 32719.4, "Liupao Tea".
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mbanu
Posts: 405
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Wed Feb 17, 2021 11:50 am

We can also use these standards in reverse to find new teas. For instance, if GB/T 32719.4 is liubao tea, what is GB/T 32719.3? In this case it is "Xiangjian tea". Well, what is that? It is a post-fermented tea from Hunan. So then we find a tea with that GB/T, and we know it is Xiangjian tea, even though it uses a different English name.

This tea-seller explains the different name this way: "Besides compressed dark tea, the loose dark tea leaf has seven kinds: 'Yajian, Baimaojian, Tianjian, Gongjian, Xiangjian, Shenjian, Kunjian'. Which made by tender dark tea leaf raw material. Yajian and Baimaojian is the top-quality dark tea loose tea leaf, they are not trade merchandise, just for the gifts from tea merchants with small quantity production output. The Tianjian and Gongjian Dark Tea, was compressed by foot in former times, with primitive bamboo package and setting forth the light sweet scent of bamboo leaves."

So the reason for the different name on that particular package is that it is a higher grade of the same category of tea as xiangjian. It also suggests why it is next to liubao in the standards list, because it too is a loose post-fermented tea traditionally stored in baskets.
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mbanu
Posts: 405
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Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:06 pm

There is another type of standard you might see, called a Dibiao or DB standard. I don't understand these very well, but they are the provincial version of the national standards. So if a tea falls under a national standard that encompasses a few different types of tea (like maybe the GB/T 13738.2 standard for congou black tea), and for whatever reason there is difficulty getting a separate national standard, then the province might have local standards for distinguishing between the different congou teas that it produces. The format is a little different -- with the guobiao standards, GB (number) is a mandatory national standard. GB/T (number) is a voluntary national standard (although in practice it is often de facto mandatory for several categories of goods). However, with dibiao standards, it is DB (number of province) / (number of standard). For example, DB44/T300 is the provincial standard for Yingde congou, with 44 being the Guangdong province code, and T300 being the voluntary Yingde standard, distinguished by the T.

There are also the "industry standards" which I don't understand at all, such as GH (gongxiao hezuo) "supply & marketing", which covers some tea products, or NY (nongye) "agricultural", but I don't know anything about the mechanism here, or even if they are really standards in the same way as GB and DB, or more trade organization guidelines.
mbanu
Posts: 405
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:43 pm

mbanu wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 11:50 am
We can also use these standards in reverse to find new teas. For instance, if GB/T 32719.4 is liubao tea, what is GB/T 32719.3? In this case it is "Xiangjian tea". Well, what is that? It is a post-fermented tea from Hunan. So then we find a tea with that GB/T, and we know it is Xiangjian tea, even though it uses a different English name.
However, this only works with standards that have decimal parts. If we go back to the original post on Anxi tea, if we go down a standard number to "GB/T 19597", that is about nuclear facilities, and if we go up to "GB/T 19599", that is about fishing nets. :D

The wording "Product of geographical indication, [something] tea" seems consistent, so we have, for example

GB/T 18650 Product of geographical indication ― Longjing tea
GB/T 18665 Product of geographical indication ― Mengshan tea
GB/T 18745 Product of geographical indication ― Wuyi rock-essence tea
GB/T 18957 Product of geographical indication ― Dongting (mountain) biluochun tea
GB/T 19460 Product of geographical indication ― Huangshan maofeng tea
GB/T 19691 Product of geographical indication ― Gougunao tea
GB/T 19698 Product of geographical indication ― Taiping houkui tea
GB/T 20354 Product of geographical indication ― Anji bai tea
GB/T 20360 Product of geographical indication ― Wuniu zao tea
GB/T 20605 Product of geographical indication ― Yuhua tea
GB/T 21003 Product of geographical indication ― Lushan yunwu tea
GB/T 21824 Product of geographical indication ― Yongchun foshou tea
GB/T 22109 Product of geographical indication ― Zhenghe white tea
GB/T 22111 Product of geographical indication ― Puer tea
GB/T 22737 Product of geographical indication ― Xinyang maojian tea
GB/T 24710 Product of geographical indication ― Tanyang gongfu tea
GB/T 26530 Product of geographical indication ― Laoshan green tea

This can be helpful if you trying to figure out if a tea is from a particular place or just done in the style of that place. For example, there is GB/T 22109 for Zhenghe white tea, and GB/T 22291 for white tea generally, or GB/T 19598 for Anxi Tieguanyin and GB/T 30357.2 for Tieguanyin generally.
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mbanu
Posts: 405
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Sat Feb 20, 2021 10:49 pm

mbanu wrote:
Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:43 pm
This can be helpful if you trying to figure out if a tea is from a particular place or just done in the style of that place. For example, there is GB/T 22109 for Zhenghe white tea, and GB/T 22291 for white tea generally, or GB/T 19598 for Anxi Tieguanyin and GB/T 30357.2 for Tieguanyin generally.
Although sometimes this can also lead to puzzlers. TenFu sells what it says is an Anxi Tieguanyin, but using GB/T 30357.2, for example. The second way to clear this up, at least with geographic designation, is to look for the "Product of geographical indication" sticker. For Anxi Tieguanyin, it used to look like this, and would be placed on the package similar to how it is on this example (it is next to the barcode).
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mbanu
Posts: 405
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:36 pm

Guobiao standards can also help for separating between similar styles of the same tea -- such as if you are trying to understand the different oolongs.

So for oolong, we have GB/T 30357:

GB/T 30357.1 Oolong tea ― Part 1: Basic requirements
GB/T 30357.2 Oolong tea ― Part 2: Tieguanyin
GB/T 30357.3 Oolong tea ― Part 3: Huangjingui
GB/T 30357.4 Oolong tea ― Part 4: Shuixian
GB/T 30357.4 Oolong tea ― Part 5: Rougui
GB/T 30357.6 Oolong tea ― Part 6: Dancong
GB/T 30357.7 Oolong tea ― Part 7: Foshou
GB/T 30357.8 Oolong tea ― Part 8: Dahongpao
GB/T 30357.9 Oolong tea ― Part 9: Baiyaqilan

So let's say you like Tieguanyin and are curious about other Anxi oolongs, you can look at its standard-neighbor Huangjingui, and with the standard there is an easy way to tell if the tea is a green Tieguanyin or a Huangjingui. :)
mbanu
Posts: 405
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Sat Feb 27, 2021 2:06 pm

If you are unlucky, you will encounter a "Q" or "qiye biaozhun" -- these look like standards but are made up by the company. :( The format goes Q/[3-or-more-characters-the-company-decided-on][3-or-more-numbers-the-company-decided-on]-[year-if-you-want-to]. I really don't understand the point of these at all, as there is no requirement that a company list anywhere what this acronym means. If anything, it is more like using the space for an internal memo. Even State companies will do this sometimes, such as the "Q/XMCH" codes that Sea Dyke likes to use for some reason.
mbanu
Posts: 405
Joined: Fri May 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Wed Mar 03, 2021 3:24 pm

These standards are usually pretty short, so the actual contents are not as helpful as you might expect. :) However, even here sometimes there can be useful info. For instance, if you are wondering, "What is a souchong, exactly?" This is a question with a complex historical answer, but also with a modern legal answer, contained within GB/T 13738.3, "Black Tea -- Part 3: Souchong black tea".

So the maybe unsatisfying answer is that souchong is either Lapsang Souchong made from Tongmu cultivars and processed in the traditional way, or, it is smoked congou. :lol: The main difference being that it can call itself souchong if it is smoked, but not Lapsang Souchong (at least within China) unless it follows the Tongmu production process. (Ignoring counterfeits, of course.)

However, since the standard includes both types, if GB/T 13738.3 is listed on the packaging, it could be either style, so here the main use is to know that it will be a smoked tea. :)
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