In 2009 the LI Family decided to set aside a fraction of their reserve-level Fo Shou Wuyi Oolong, and instead of high-firing it to remove all moisture, they allowed it to ferment with natural moisture, essentially making their own shu pu'er. This tea was still finished with yaoqing technique, making it absolutely an oolong, but with all the depth of shu pu'er. Note, this is not similar to standard aged oolong because of the unique moisture conditions. It has aged deep, dark, and foresty- a totally new hybrid style we are excited to share!
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.
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.
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.
Master Zhang takes his Special Grade designation seriously. In order for a batch to be set aside as Special Grade, it has to meet an incredibly high standard of sweetness, a long lingering aftertaste, and thick balanced texture and evocative aroma. It takes the perfect combination of high elevation rocky soil, cool stand-out weather during the growing season and on the picking and finishing days. In the autumn it is even rarer to get these perfect windows, so we are excited to be sharing this harvest for teh first time. This extremely limited special grade Tieguanyin was hand-picked and hand finished over an exhaustive day and a half fluffing and turning process to bring out deep intense florals and creamy texture. The true flavor of the Tieguanyin varietal is preserved with Master Zhang’s expert green finish.
This is Master Zhang's absolute highest designation competition-level Tieguanyin, a rare allocation that we are pleased to offer for the first time ever. Most years Master Zhang is unable to set aside a traditional-finish Special Grade, as it requires a perfect alignment of weather, deep-rooted old-growth tea bushes, and perfect craft. Any special Grade designation from Master Zhang must meet his serious standards in terms of having the longest aftertaste, tingling, electrical after-sensation, juicy, mouth-watering sweetness and enveloping aromatics. When a picking is a candidate for meeting these standards it is set aside for full traditional hand-finishing, and even when completed, is only called Special Grade if the result warrants this rare label.