Lu’an Melon Seed is a Chinese green tea. Pronounced “Liu An Gua Pian” and also known as Liuan Leaf, it holds the “China Famous Tea” designation. The leaves smell sweet and fresh; when wet, they resemble melon seeds, hence the name. The brew has a smooth, sweet, nut-like flavor that is slightly reminiscent of toasted pumpkin seeds.
Where to buy
Lu’an Leaf Tea can be difficult to get outside of China. You may find it in a specialty tea shop or through some online vendors. If you are unsure where to begin, you can check out some of my recommendations below.
How to Prepare Lu’An Melon Seed Tea
The preparation instructions given here are for loose leaf teas. For tea bags, you can just follow the instructions given on the box.
Chinese green teas are generally much easier to brew than Japanese varieties and this one is no exception. Like most other green teas, Liuan Leaf tea should be steeped in cooler water than black or oolong teas.
A temperature of 80°C (176°F) is a good starting point. To get this temperature, you can just use a simple stove-top kettle to bring the water to a boil and then let it cool down for about two minutes.
For Chinese teas, the temperature is not as important as it is for Japanese teas. As long as it is a bit below boiling, it should be fine. If you would like to be more accurate in judging the water temperature, you can simply use a thermometer.
If you plan on trying a lot of varieties of tea and/or coffee it might be worth it to invest in a water boiler/warmer or an electric kettle with a variable temperature setting. Personally, I recommend this Cuisinart kettle, because it has presets for every type of tea, so you always get the perfect temperature:
Many Chinese will brew Liu An Gua Pian in a plain 8oz glass. Many restaurants in China do this as well. In tea shops, however, you will usually be served Lu’An Melon Seed in a traditional lidded cup called a gaiwan, which is what I will use for these instructions.
- Fill your gaiwan (or glass) about halfway with hot water to pre-heat it. Tilt the cup a bit so that the water creeps up the side and then rotate it so the inside gets wet all the way around. Then pour the water out.
- Cover the bottom of the gaiwan with a shallow layer of dry leaves. You will need approximately 1 teaspoon. Use twice this amount if you are brewing your tea in an 8oz glass.
- Fill the gaiwan about one third of the way with hot water. The temperature should be below boiling; around 80°C (176°F) is ideal.
- Tilt the cup a bit and rotate, so that the leaves get wet all over. Then add more hot water until the gaiwan is 80-90% full.
- Place the lid on the gaiwan and let the tea steep for 1-2 minutes. It is ready to drink when most of the leaves have sunk to the bottom of the cup.
- When you get down to about one quarter of the tea remaining, refill the gaiwan with hot water of the same temperature as before and let it steep for 30 seconds to one minute.
- You can get 3-5 infusions out of most varieties. Increase the steeping time 30 seconds to one minute for each infusion. How many infusions you do depends entirely on your taste. Experiment.
Use the amounts given in these instructions as a rough guide. If you find the resulting tea too weak, add more tea leaves; if it is too strong, reduce the amount of leaves used. Similarly, try increasing or decreasing the steeping times.
Many people already have an account with Amazon.com so it is probably the easiest place to buy tea online. They have a bunch of options that look like they come directly from Chinese store shelves. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the quality can vary a lot.
Luckily, they have recently added some new teas (as of Nov 2018) and among them is this Premium Lu An Gua Pian from Best Leaf Teas. It is an excellent tea, though it definitely costs more than all the generic varieties found on Amazon.
I prefer buying from online shops and my favorite option is this great Melon Seed from Teavivre. Adagio Tea’s Anhui Emerald Seed seems to be more popular, but it is also more expensive and, to me, the difference in price is not justified. The tea from Teavivre is a better value.