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.
Hand-Twisted Craft Black Tea. First flat-pressed, then hand twisted, Laoshan Gongfu Black is a difficult finish favored by the He Family to bring out sparkling minerality in their tea. This spring tea has notes of rose, caramel flan and tropical citrus.
Only a dozen kilos of this unusual tea were picked this year. The entire batch was hand picked and processed solely by Li Xiangxi's brother. We are excited to have the opportunity to share a large part of the harvest with you, and to try it for ourselves! The name Purple Buds refers to the color of the buds after picking but before processing. They are actually a light purple green on the tea bush and have a uniquely tropical flavor that sets them apart as a rare and intriguing black tea.
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.
This unique buddy black tea 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.
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.
Black tea blended with cinnamon, orange peel, ginger, coriander, dandelion root, clove, saffron, and vanilla.
Firelight, and the softest blanket in the house, a companion for a riveting read, or comfort for a long day of work. Sienna stars a fine spring bud black tea with natural chocolatey citrus notes, and bolsters it with spices, orange, and luxurious saffron. Finally, Sienna is scented with a fine small-batch Madagascar vanilla for a rich sweet finish that brings it all together.
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.
Mr. He’s daughter Qingqing, co-owner of Verdant Tea, pioneered this finishing style with her father. She loves the long delicate twisting technique for the way the leaves dance in a glass pitcher as they unfold yielding a delicate nuanced brew that lasts over multiple steepings. The hand pulled and twisted finish on this early reserve harvest shows off the delicate deep-green buds that the family picks with so much care, cultivating with sustainable chemical free farming, and fed by sweet mountain spring water.
This special hand picked, hand made tea was picked this year during the early shage-grown spring harvest in mid-April, with the He Family's greenhouse protection against the cold of Laoshan's unique northern climate. With the greenhouse protection still in place, the tea plants grow slowly for textural intensity and sweetness unique to shade-grown tea. The flat-pressing process that Mr. He uses to finish this fresh spring harvest is inspired by Dragonwell green tea. In fact, Laoshan tea was originally brought to the area from Dragonwell, so for this cultivar, flat-pressing is a return to its origins. The day-long labor-intensive process to finish this delicate tea makes for beautiful leaves to brew in glass. The flavor is lighter but the aroma and sweetness more pronounced with flat-pressing.
A mild winter and cool spring has made for a beautiful early harvest of shade-grown Reserve Laoshan Green. These sweet and delicates buds and leaves are picked while still under greenhouse protection in the He Family’s ocean-facing plot at the foot of the Laoshan mountains. The early April picking is still intensely sweet and packed with deep minerality.
This famous tea is grown using beyond organic green tea cultivation techniques for rich sweet flavor, incredible texture and notes of bamboo and jasmine. Situated on a perfectly-shaded mountainside, Li Xiaoping’s Dragonwell benefits from Shi Feng’s unique climate, rocky quartz soil and sweet mountain springs. Her craft captures a rare example of true Dragonwell- deep minerality, persistent sweetness and complex aromatics.
#43 Varietal Dragonwell was specifically bred and selected to bud even earlier than classic Dragonwell in Shi Feng and yields yellower plumper buds that make for gorgeous steeping in glassware. While classic Dragonwell is all about rocky mineral texture, the new #43 is a crisp, bright focused experience centered around stronger flavor and aroma and more pronounced sweetness. Mrs. Li's first picking of the year is full of all the nutrients and sugars stored by the plant all winter long and offers a more complex, sweet and subtle taste experience. It has a longer aftertaste and thicker texture than later harvests. The soil is full of quartz and white sand while the water comes from natural mountain springs, yielding a flavor that simply can’t be matched outside of Shi Feng itself.
Qilan varieties is almost legendary for its deep luscious orchid notes and its subtle incense spice. The Li Family cultivates established 40+ year Qilan bushes on their rocky volcanic mountainside plot in the Wuyishan Ecological Preserve, letting the tea build complexity through biodiverse plantings, and carefully preserved natural forest cover. They hand-pick their Qilan and expertly bring out the florals through hand-crafting over a meticulous 12 hour turning and fluffing process called yaoqing. The careful and restrained roast on this Qilan really allows the florals to shine through, bolstered by the rocky minerality that the Li Family’s teas are famous for.