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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 two classic Wuyi black teas and three classic Wuyi oolongs. Taste the Li Family’s buddy Black Buds Jin Jun Mei, and contrast it with the Smoked Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong. Then move on to cozy Big Red Robe, rocky Shui Xian, 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.

Five 25g bags of loose leaf tea are included for a total of 4.41 ounces (125g.) of tea or 25 brewing sessions.

 
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BLACK BUDS JIN JUN MEI

While we are more used to seeing bright orange and gold buds in high end Jin Jun Mei, the black bud Jin Jun Mei has developed into its own unique style with a flavor all its own. Li Xiangxi often prefers drinking black Jin Jun Mei for its deep complexity. Black Jin Jun Mei is not to be confused with Wuyi Gongfu Black. While the buds are black, the material in a black Jin Jun Mei must be predominantly buds, not leaves.

 

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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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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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SHUI XIAN

Li Xiangxi’s family has been hand picking and processing tea for generations. They are lucky to have a mountain plot along the Longchuan Gorge protected from the elements. Their tea is fed from a mountain spring, with plants between ten and one hundred years old, all grown traditionally without fertilizers or pesticides and picked by hand by the family. This Shui Xian varietal picking really shines with the Li Family’s delicate charcoal roasting process to bring out the deep florals.

 

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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 Black Buds Jin Jun Mei, to taste the way downy buds affect the flavor and texture. Then move on to 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 Shui Xian 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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