This bundle includes four 25g bags and one 100g cake of craft black tea for 200g total (40 sessions).
The finest black teas in the world come from small family farms run with the sustainability and beyond-organic practices that can only come from one generation tending land that they will pass down to their children. The rich deep complexity of the finest black teas comes from stringent picking standards for the ideal tender bud and leaf mix, and from slow careful oxidation to bring out more nuance in small batches.
This tasting kit is an introduction to the incredible diversity of flavor that our partners offer with their black teas from malty chocolate-driven Laoshan Black from the north of China to traditional and complex Wuyi black teas. Through craft, varietal, and microclimate, our farmer-partners are proud to represent the best that China has to offer.
An Introduction to Craft Black teas:
Mei Zhan Jin Black Tea (25g)
Mei Zhan varietal is famous for its rich and focused fruit-forward oolong made from long skinny spring leaves. Recently, Mr. Li has been experimenting with a stand of his family’s iconic Mei Zhan in early spring when the plant puts out huge buds that are too delicate to withstand oolong processing. He personally leads the hand-picking of the Li Family Mei Zhan buds and brings them to the family home and workshop in Tongmu for Jin Jun Mei meticulous black tea hand-finishing. The slow oxidation in bamboo baskets brings out big savory notes and sweet rich honey and cream.
This year is the second fantastic harvest of the He Family's new osmanthus-scented black tea. Once again, the He Family is sharing a rich reserve-level Autumn Harvest Laoshan Black, scented during finishing with tiny hand-picked Laoshan Osmanthus flowers. The brown sugar, honey and fruity chocolate notes are melded together perfectly with the luscious almost creamy floral of the He Family’s meticulously hand-harvested Osmanthus blossoms. This tea is one of the hardest to make in the He Family collection since the local osmanthus blossoms are so small that they have to pick thousands just to make tiny batch of finished tea, but the results are worth the effort.
Li Xiangxi works with her two brothers in the Wuyi Ecological Preserve to harvest this propagated-from-seed Xiaozhong varietal leaf and process it using traditional heap oxidization techniques and curling to bring out the tea’s natural complexity. Grown on a hillside in a ravine that collects a pocket of natural mist all morning, the tea buds slowly, yielding an incredibly sweet brew. The tea picks up mineral texture from the rocky volcanic soil and the natural spring water running through the Li Family’s plot. Deeper complexity comes from the natural genetic variation of allowing their Xiaozhong tea to grow from seed instead of cuttings, creating a rich multi-layered taste experience.
This relatively new tea is fed by sweet mountain spring water and oxidized in the sun for three days before finishing to bring out signature chocolate notes. Mr. He perfected this tea as a proud reflection of the bold Shandong spirit and the perseverance of Laoshan Village. Laoshan Black is a labor of love to prove to the world how wonderful teas from Northern China can be. The cold weather, and pure mountain springs come together for a microclimate that yields some of the sweetest and most chocolatey black tea in China with a unique and distinctly northern flavor. This year in particular, dry and mild weather leading up to autumn in has yielded the sweetest picking in years, but a tiny yield due to reduced rainfall. The He family produced less than half of what they usually would this year.
The Li Family’s black tea comes from Camellia sinensis var. assamica tea plants between one hundred and several hundred years of age. Some trees are still shrubs, while others require ladders to scale for picking.
This blend of wild-picked tea is heaped in thicker piles in bamboo baskets and allowed to oxidize under the bright Yunnan sun before being turned out for drying. No roast has been applied to the black tea in this tea cake, giving it a higher natural moisture content and the potential to age like sheng pu’er, even with its oxidized and sweet black tea flavor. The addition of tea flowers brings even more sweet, sunny goodness to an already complex base, making for a darker deeper ginger molasses cookie profile, and a rewarding floral complexity.