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Produced lixiangxi_farmerbadge by Li Xiangxi

Li Xiangxi’s family lives deep in the nature preserves near the Longchuan river gorge in Wuyishan. They pick wild tea in the bamboo forested ravine behind their family home, and further down the road, they cultivate many varietals of Wuyi tea in their mist-covered valley plot. Li Xiangxi uses the profits from tea farming to support her school of traditional Wuyi tea ceremony.

Li Xiangxi and her family have a small workshop where they process their tea by hand on carefully tended woks and are known in the area for the subtle and careful roasting skills. This sampler is a chance to try a broad range of Li Xiangxi’s teas to get to know the taste of the region and the crafting priorities of the family.

 

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Taste Li Xiangxi’s Classic Collection

This invitation to Wuyishan offers a very broad range of the Li family’s teas, including three classic Wuyi black teas and three classic Wuyi oolongs. Taste the Li Family’s buddy Jin Jun Mei, and contrast it with the Wuyi Gongfu Black and the Smoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. Then move on to cozy Big Red Robe, naturally spiced Light Roast Rou Gui, and floral aromatic Qilan.

There is enough tea included to brew each selection five times times, giving you a chance to explore different brewing methods and pairings while getting to know what Wuyishan is all about.

Six 25g bags of loose leaf tea are included for a total of 5.29 ounces (150g.) of tea or 30 brewing sessions.

 
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JIN JUN MEI

Jin Jun Mei Wuyi black tea is one of the most labor intensive and demanding teas to produce. The picking window is so small and the skill required so high, that every experienced farmer in the Xingcun works together to pick Jin Jun Mei buds for each other over the first weeks of spring. Li Xiangxi’s spring-fed tea grows straight out of the rocks, yielding a rich mineral flavor true to Wuyishan’s unique terroir. The aftertaste is full of steamed Chinese buns, vanilla and fresh ginger.

 

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ZHENG SHAN XIAO ZHONG
SMOKED WUYI BLACK TEA

Li Xiangxi’s family smoke their tea at their family home in Tongmu, controlling the level of smoke by picking out and carefully drying just the right pieces of resiny sap-laden wood to smolder, scenting in small batches for perfectly controlled flavor. Through careful management of pine wood, Li Xiangxi and her family seek to emphasize the intense minerality that is natural to everything growing on the bamboo-covered slopes above the Longchuan Gorge.

 

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WUYI GONGFU BLACK

Wuyi Gongfu Black is exciting because the unpredictable, beautiful and complex flavors of each wildly propagated tea bush melds perfectly in this rustic and honest expression of the land. Wuyi Gongfu Black tea is one of the best styles suited to the wild tea – traditionally oxidized and delicately twisted for a tea with sweet, mellow cocoa, sweet citrus, and a woody finish.

 

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BIG RED ROBE

Li Xiangxi and her family grow this tea in the Longchuan gorge of the Wuyishan National Nature Reserve, hand picking every leaf and delicately roasting this tea in bamboo baskets over charcoal embers to bring out the natural minerality of the region. The family believes strongly in standing against the modern trend to over-roast and cover the natural flavor of the tea, making her Big Red Robe unique among its peers and earning it the recognition of a gold medal in 2016. The cozy tea is well-balanced with strong notes of fruity melon and candied citrus with a savory sweet finish.

 

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ROU GUI LIGHT ROAST

The Li Family grows their Rou Gui varietal in higher elevation above the Longchuan Gorge in the curves where mist settles between the peaks and protects the tender tea leaves from afternoon sunlight. Growing among wild bamboo, orange trees and flowers, this Rou Gui picks up a complex aroma. In contrast to their darker roast Rou Gui, the beautifully controlled light roast process preserves the natural flavors of the tea and the land.

 

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QILAN

Li Xiangxi’s whole family – brothers, cousins, sisters, aunts and uncles – all pitch in to work their Wuyi Jiuqiu river valley plot. Because of the sweet mountain springs and flavor complexity that plot’s biodiversity contributes to each tea, her family is unique in their careful restrained roasting process. They let the natural perfumed florals and deep rocky minerality come through in their Qilan varietal oolong for a deliciously fragrant Wuyi oolong.

 

Tasting Recommendations

 

Li Xiangxi likes to group by tea type in tastings. She recommends trying the black teas together. Start with her Jin Jun Mei, to taste the way downy buds affect the flavor and texture. Move on to Wuyi Gongfu Black, and finish with the smoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. Take a break before starting on the oolongs. Begin your oolong tasting with the Li Family’s classic Big Red Robe before moving to the Rou Gui Light Roast and finishing with the beautifully aromatic Qilan.

Li Xiangxi’s traditional Wuyi Tea Ceremony uses two yixing clay teapots, one for brewing and one as a pitcher. Use 5 grams of leaf in a four to six ounce teapot, rinse with 200° F water, then steep for four to five seconds. Pour the tea without a strainer into the second teapot.

Use scent cups and tasting cups if at all possible. Scent cups are taller porcelain cups designed to trap the aroma of a tea. If you don’t have scent cups, simply use a smaller cup as a scent cup and pour the infusion from the smaller cup into your drinking cup, then smell the empty cup before drinking out of the full cup.

Every three infusions, stop and taste simple hot water. This is a critical part of Wuyi ceremony as sipping water gives a medium for the aftertaste lingering from early infusions to really come out. The water steeping is a way to appreciate aroma and aftertaste.

 

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