This bundle includes four 100g pressed cakes of sheng pu'er tea for 400g total (80 sessions).
Crassicolumna is an ancient, wild near-tea relative to the modern camellia sinensis plant, native to the tea forests of Qianjiazhai deep in the mountains. Naturally caffeine-free, Crassicolumna is packed with captivating deep spiced flavor and texture. It has the complexity of pu’er, but a wild flavor all its own.
The Zhenyuan Dongsa Cooperative of Qianjiazhai is a loose-knit coalition of families across the remote mountaintops of China’s oldest tea forests dedicated to sustainable stewardship of the wild tea plants like Crassicolumna, and careful foraging from trees that can be over a thousand years old.
Master Zhou founded the cooperative to refine the finishing craft and picking techniques across Qianjiazhai and bring more well-deserved respect to one of China’s most important but also most unknown tea regions. This tasting kit is a deep dive into the conservation work the cooperative is engaged in, exploring the Crassicolumna tea that farmers are allowed to wild-forage in exchange for working to prevent overharvesting of these ancient from outsiders or poachers.
In this kit you’ll taste the careful heat-free sun drying craft of Qianjiazhai’s crassicolumna sheng pu’er, the slow oxidation of their wild black tea, and the sweet rich intensity of the budset yabao, and a unique blend of foraged tea flowers and crassicolumna sheng.
from the Zhenyuan Dongsa Cooperative:
2020 Wild Crassicolumna Sheng Cake (100g)
This tea is sustainably wild-foraged from ancient Camellia Crassicolumna (厚轴茶) tree, a close relative of tea native to Qianjiazhai. This year's tea is available both loose and in 100g cake pressings. Crassicolumna is naturally caffeine-free and rich in antioxidants. The giant leaves and buds picked from this wild-growing tree stock are allowed to gently sun dry without any heat processing to keep the most natural flavor. Wild crassicolumna trees can be anywhere between several hundred and over a thousand years old, and are incredibly tall and difficult to climb to harvest these precious leaves, but the rich nuanced flavor and lingering aftertaste is worth the effort.
This new 2019 tea is picked from the early spring buds of the Camellia Crassicolumna (厚轴茶) tree, a close relative of tea native to Qianjiazhai. Crassicolumna is naturally caffeine-free and rich in antioxidants. Yabao buds are extremely sweet and packed with flavor since they are the early shoots of the plant that would otherwise become new branches. The giant buds picked from this wild-growing tree stock are allowed to gently sun dry without any heat processing to keep the most natural flavor. Wild crassicolumna trees can be anywhere between several hundred and over a thousand years old, and are incredibly tall and difficult to climb to harvest these precious buds, but the rich nuanced flavor and lingering aftertaste is worthwhile.
This tea is picked from the early spring leaves and tender buds of the Camellia Crassicolumna tree, a close relative of the tea plant native to Qianjiazhai. Crassicolumna is naturally caffeine-free and high in antioxidants. Since Crassicolumna is native to the Qianjiazhai region, there are many examples of staggeringly old Crassicolumna trees. Mr. Li of the cooperative is actually employed by the local government as an environmental protection officer to make sure these ancient trees are protected from poaching, where outsiders would sneak in in the cover of darkness to cut the tall trees and quickly harvest their precious leaves. Mr. Li has found that the best way to protect the trees is to allow sustainable wild foraging by the people living in the protected region in exchange for their help watching over remote Crassicolumna groves. This extremely rare and labor-intensive to harvest offering is allowed to slowly sun-roast to oxidize and finished as a unique black tea with a rich fruity but wild flavor, all without the caffeine you’d see in camellia sinensis.
Camellia crassicolumna is a close relative to the tea plant, growing wild in the forests of Qianjiazhai alongside Camellia sinensis var. assamica and many other near-relative species that are even now being categorized by botanists. Crassicolumna grows distinctively tall, making it very difficult to pick, but the payoff is a deeply complex spice-forward flavor, and intense lingering sweetness, all without caffeine. When finished like sheng pu’er, Camellia crassicolumna ages just like tea into deeper complexity.
Mr. Zhou blended the giant crassicolumna leaves with about 10% tea flowers picked from wildly propagated Camellia sinensis var. assamica plants. These flowers add a tiny amount of caffeine back into the mix, but also add deep sweetness and a sunny marigold profile, rounding out the crisp edge of the Crassicolumna with layers of sweet deep complexity.