This bundle includes five 25g bags of craft black tea for 125g total (25 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 rustic Golden Fleece from Yunnan. 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:
Spring Laoshan Black (25g)
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 new 2020 harvest is coming soon! Huang Ruiguang's family Mi Lan Dancong is picked only once a year from single trees that are not pruned back to encourage deeper roots & more robust flavor, year after year. His mountain plot and decades of work in improving agriculture techniques for the region have earned Huang Ruiguang's Mi Lan awards such as the recent 2015 Gold Medal at the Sixth Guangdong Tea Expo. This Mi Lan is allowed to naturally oxidize for over 24 hours before being carefully spread, baked and tumbled. The oxidation creates a deep rich black tea flavor, but Mi Lan varietal’s natural juicy floral honey flavor still comes through strong.
Jin Jun Mei Wuyi black tea is one of the most labor intensive and demanding teas to produce. Fine Jin Jun Mei is made exclusively from tiny spring buds, and requires thousands and thousands of hand-picked golden buds to make a single pound of finished tea. The result is a downy tea with a thick full texture, and a beautiful elegance. Li Xiangxi's spring-fed tea grows out of rocky, sandy soil, yielding a rich mineral flavor true to Wuyishan's unique terroir.
The Li family’s position as community leaders and environmental stewards gives them the special privilege to pick from an old wild grove of tea trees, including the wildly propagated Xingcun Xiaozhong used to make the most oldest style of black tea in the world. Wuyishan is home to the first black tea ever made, and indeed, many of the living trees in the Li Family’s small grove are over 100 years old. This handful of special trees yield tea with a stunning complexity and commending textural sensation. The deep roots pick up huge volcanic minerality, while the mossy wild environment encourages the tea to put out tons of polyphenols, meaning bigger flavor and aroma. The result is a tea so commanding that Li Xiangxi will readily admit that it is her personal favorite tea to drink daily in the family’s whole collection. This tea is lovingly finished at the family workshop in the Tongmu protected region using sun roasting for oxidation and careful hand firing for the roast.
This unique offering from Wang Yanxin is only possible because of her deep connections in both Henan and Laoshan. Her farmer friends produce extremely tiny bud Xinyang Maojian, a fine downy showstopper of a green tea. The second picking of the year is still all delicate downy buds, but tradition dictates only the first harvest is used for Henan's iconic buddy green tea. Wang Yanxin works to rush-ship fresh tea leaves the day they are picked from Henan all the way up to Laoshan Village, where they are allowed to traditionally oxidize in the sun to make a black tea, and then finished using Laoshan's extremely honed-in roasting and finishing techniques to combine the buddy steamed bun texture of Jin Jun Mei with the chocolatey goodness of Laoshan Black. This cross-province collaboration continues to prove that the world of tea is still full of innovators, pushing the boundaries of tradition.