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- 2021 Bai Rui Xiang Wuyi Black TeaBai Rui Xiang varietal is named after the Winter Daphne, a heady aromatic flower native to China. Traditionally finished as an oolong, this tea always has a rich nuanced undercurrent of incense spice and cooling tingling minerality. This season, the Li Family saved a small portion of this reserve harvest Bai Rui Xiang to finish as a black tea using old-school sun-oxidation in bamboo baskets at the family workshop in Tongmu. The result is an incredibly complex black tea where the intense florals of the oolong finish take a back seat to the cooling tingling textural excitement this tea has to offer, along for a rich spiced brew full of Wuyi’s famous minerality.
- 2021 Feng Huang Wuyi Black
Feng Huang Black comes from transplanted Fenghuang Dancong from Guangdong established in the mountainous rocky slopes of Wuyi. As in Guangdong, these plants are cultivated as single bush trees instead of hedges. The result is an elegant expression of the bright, fruity, complex and sweet flavor of Fenghuang Dancong with the deep mineral notes of Wuyi. Black Tea Xiao Zhong style processing tempers the naturally tropical fruit of Dancong and supports it with elegant wood. Because this tea is grown as single bushes and picked only once a year, the annual yield for the Li Family is very small. We are excited to share this small batch from the Li Family's tea gardens.
- 2021 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.
- 2022 Black Buds Jin Jun MeiXingcun Xiaozhong varietal tea in Wuyishan can produce black and gold buds. While the golden bud expression has been encouraged through cultivation for its stunning color, Li Xiangxi and her family often prefer the depth and complexity of black buds. This tea still uses the same tiny buds and the same meticulous hand-picking as their golden buds Jin Jun Mei, but with a more spiced and savory flavor profile.
- 2021 Rou Gui Wuyi Black TeaRou Gui is one of Wuyishan’s most famous and sought after varietals, and one of the Li Family’s most awarded teas. Rou Gui is known for so transparently showcasing the terroir, the unique microclimate, of specific subregions within the Wuyishan Ecological preserve. The Li Family took the audacious step this year of setting aside a portion of their widely-respected award-winning Rou Gui and trying an experimental new finish, allowing the tea to slowly sun-oxidize into a black tea instead of going through traditional oolong finishing. The result is a stunning but extremely-limited harvest of spice and mineral-driven Rou Gui black tea, bolstered by an intensely creamy backbone and a building oolong-like aftertaste. They’ve achieved the nuance and staying power of an oolong but with the honeyed allure of a black tea.
- 2020 Qianjiazhai Hand Fired BlackThe Dongsa cooperative wild-forages the leaves for their hand-fired black tea from trees well over one hundred years old, growing on the cool high elevation slopes of the Ailao National Forest Preserve. The biodiversity and well established root stock makes for deeply nuanced and complex tea, normally reserve for pressing and aging as sheng pu’er. This experimental offering is a new project by the cooperative to hand fire over low heat in a wok for a more classic Dian Hong style. The application of heat makes this more closely related to other Yunnan Black, and indeed it shares a rich sweet potato thickness similar to our Yunnan Golden Fleece, but with Qianjiazhai’s signature tulsi complexity and touches of citrus, and florals.
- 2021 Qianjiazhai Hand Fired BlackMaster Zhou is still experimenting with other farmers in Qianjiazhai to produce new black tea offerings each year. The cooperative started with simple oxidized and sun dried black tea without any processing. Recently they have begun experimenting with wok-roasted hand finished black tea. The application of heat makes this more closely related to other Yunnan Black, and indeed it shares a rich sweet potato thickness similar to our Yunnan Golden Fleece, but with Qianjiazhai’s signature tulsi complexity and touches of citrus, and florals. Anybody who loves black tea will love this wild complex black tea offering from the Dongsa Cooperative.
- 2020 Qianjiazhai Sun Dried Black TeaThis tea is wild-foraged by the Li Family of the Dongsa Cooperative within the Mt Ailao National Forest Preserve. The silvery buds and twisting golden leaves are picked from ancient tea trees between one hundred and eight hundred years old scattered between other evergreens, and wildflowers on the rocky mountainside. This labor-intensive tea to harvest is actually allowed to sun-roast and oxidize without applying heat in a wok. Because more moisture is retained in the leaf, this black tea is a fantastic candidate for aging like traditional sheng pu’er. Only a high-elevation remote place like Qianjiazhai can count on enough sunlight in the spring for this old but rare finishing technique. The result is a tea with the sweet malt of a black tea but the staggering complexity and herbaceous undertones of a sheng pu’er. A true standout!
- 2022 Golden Fleece
This spring harvest Yunnan black tea gets its name to honor the soft, rich textural experience of tasting this beautiful small harvest tea. Golden Fleece is hand picked from wild growth (unmanaged) Yunnan Da Bai tea bushes over forty years old. The biodiversity of the growing region and deeper roots mean a more complex flavor and aroma. Only the most perfect large tender buds are hand-harvested, and carefully hand-finished. The down from the buds infuses into every cup, yielding a uniquely thick mouthfeel. This year's harvest is full and complex with cooling cedar, and spiced nutmeg and cinnamon undertones to bolster the luxurious creamy base.
- 2022 Yunnan Golden JasmineThis exquisite offering from Wang Yanxin combines the very best of two of our favorite teas - Yunnan White Jasmine and Golden Fleece. Huge buds are picked from Yunnan Da Bai, a varietal normally used for white tea. These buds are allowed to fully oxidize into black tea, but during oxidation and drying, wild jasmine blossom are scattered among the buds, allowing the natural aroma of the jasmine to absorb over several days into the tea itself. The jasmine flowers have to be changed and renewed six times over six days to get a full aromatic infusion that lasts over many steepings. The old craft of true jasmine scenting is a slow laborious process, but the results are worth it. This tea is as rich and sweet as Golden Fleece and as luscious as Jasmine.
- 2021 Zhu RongLady Zhu Rong was a legendary dagger-wielding warrior-queen of Yunnan descended from a god of fire. The toasty-savory spice and sweet, creamy boxy of this Yunnan black tea evoke the kingdom of Dian, an independent state before it was conquered by China and renamed Yunnan. Dian Hong is a relatively new kind of tea introduced in the 80's that has recently taken China by storm for its full body and depth of flavor that comes from its signature downy buds. While budset black teas from Fujian tend to be very crisp, Yunnan golden bud harvests like this Zhu Rong are much bigger and creamier.
- 2021 Autumn Laoshan Black
The He Family’s Most Popular Tea. This cool autumn season harvest black tea is packed with flavor and aromatics, fully oxidized and roasted to achieve the iconic malty, chocolatey, honeyed Laoshan Black flavor.
- 2020 Autumn Laoshan Black
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.
- 2022 Reserve Laoshan Gongfu Black
True Competition-Level Black Tea from Laoshan. This is the earliest, sweetest, most delicate harvest of the year, meticulously hand-rolled and twisted in the style of high-end Wuyi tea. The "gongfu" finish brings out notes of nutmeg, brown sugar, and fine dark chocolate.
- 2021 Tieguanyin Jin Jun MeiWhile Tieguanyin Xiaozhong uses smaller leaves for a traditional black tea, the Liu Family'a Tieguanyin Jin Jun Mei uses large Tieguanyin buds, orange with down, for a unique and particularly uncommon offering. This is a chance to taste the rich, sweet and savory flavor of bud material in the naturally floral Tieguanyin varietal. This tea is a clear demonstration that farmers like the Liu Family are not tied by tradition to only make what is currently accepted with the varietals they grow.
- 2021 Tieguanyin Xiao Zhong
This experimental loose leaf black tea is made by the Liu family with leaves from their Tieguanyin tea plants. 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. Cozy and satisfying, this tea has an unmistakable floral Tieguanyin core under the black tea finishing.
- Tieguanyin Xiao Zhong Mini Cake
This fun, experimental black tea is pressed after finishing into single-serving 7g mini-cakes. Like the Liu Family's loose leaf Tieguanyin XIao Zhong, 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 pressed black tea, you find something different. The Liu Family has created a tea that is full of juicy fruity notes, rich spice and savory undertones. The mini-cake format of this tea makes for convenient brewing, aging and transportation.