This bundle includes four 25g bags and five 7g mini-cakes of craft black tea for 135g 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:
Mei Zhan Jin Black Tea
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.
She uses the same delicate early buds as her famous green tea, hand-picked from the slopes of Shi Feng, raised on sweet mountain spring water and covered in high elevation mist to protect against sunlight. After light twisting and rolling, this sweet, rich and distinctly mineral-laden tea is then set out in bamboo baskets and loosely covered for ten to fifteen hours and allowed to oxidize in the afternoon heat. This oxidation process brings out savory malty flavors in Li Xiaoping’s Dragonwell that show the unique texture of the region in a completely different light.
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 tea highlights Mr. He’s delicate and meticulous hand rolling and straightening technique developed in producing Pine Needle Green, but introducing traditional sun-oxidation to make a rich and deeply complex black tea. The result is Lashan’s most mineral-forward and complex black tea to date. This tea is fed by mountain spring water, picked by hand, and cultivated sustainably using traditional chemical-free farming techniques including growing rows of soybean between rows of tea to restore nitrates to the soil. The finished tea picks up the rocky minerality of the soil, and careful low temperature roasting brings out deep brown sugar sweetness.
The inspiration for this tea is Wuyi Xiao Zhong, a traditional and full-bodied black tea from Wuyishan (sometimes smoked with special pine wood). You might expect a bracing and full bodied tea, but when you taste this Tieguanyin varietal processed as a curled, roasted black tea, you find something quite different. The Liu Family has created a tea that is full of juicy fruity notes, rich spice and savory undertones. Rich and satisfying, this tea still has a floral Tieguanyin core under the black tea finishing. This tea has been carefully steamed and pressed into 7g mini-cakes for convenient brewing, aging and transportation.