Verdant Tea

An Introduction to Craft Black Tea

An Introduction to Craft Black Tea

Regular Price $50.90 $40.72
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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 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: 

Wuyi Gongfu Black (25g)

Li Xiangxi works with her brother and cousins 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.

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2022 Fei Zi Xiao (25g)

This intriguing varietal is sometimes literally translated as Concubine’s Smile (or laugh), but in reality, the tea gets its name from the Feizi Xiao (妃子笑) fruit, a type of lychee so loved by a royal consort that it always made her smile. The name couldn't be more accurate for this stunning varieties, which truly tastes like lychee and peaches. An already luscious varietal gains even more complexity and nuance in the Mr. Li’s capable hands, finished with traditional sun-oxidation and gently fired. The minerality of the Li Family’s volcanic soil comes through beautifully, along with an impressive jasmine and honey aromatic complexity.

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2022 Qianjiazhai Hand Fired Black Dragon Pearls (25g)

While the Li Family uses sun drying to bring out rich texture and spice in their sun dried black tea, they have recently started experimenting with a light roasting process, done entirely by hand over a special wood-fired wok. This brings out much sweeter flavors in the black tea. This Dragon Pearl is made with the Li Family's hand fired black tea, closer to a traditional Dian Hong than their Sun Dried Black tea, with savory notes of honey, walnut, fig and a warming hint of cinnamon and tulsi spice.

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Jin Jun Mei Black Tea (25g)

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.

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Mei Zhan Jin Wuyi 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.

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Reserve Laoshan Gongfu Black (25g)

Laoshan Gongfu Black is one of the most difficult finishes for the He Family, requiring flat-pressing and hand-twisting and curling to achieve the final shape and finish. Mr. He saves this technique for his finest spring harvests, and this year, the He Family has reserved a small harvest of a very special grade of Laoshan Gongfu Black. The hand-twisted 'pine needles' are made with the buddy early harvest shade-grown picking, while the tea plants are still protected from the early spring cold of Laoshan's unique northern climate.

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Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Smoked Wuyi Black Tea (25g)

The earliest Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, (or Lapsang Souchong as it is commonly referred to in the West) was never deep-smoked. The smokiness was a natural and subtle addition that came from drying the leaves in a wok heated by pine wood. The smoke from the pine wood naturally mixed with the tea, creating a deeper and more foresty flavor that accentuated the tea's minerality. The Li Family preserves this old-school aesthetic with careful application of smoke from local resinous pine. The sweet, roasted quality of the smoke processing blends with the rich flavor of the tea to yield a dark fruity flavor, and bring front and center the mineral texture of the soil of Wuyi.

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