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. Once again, 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.
The Li Family’s black tea comes from Camellia sinensis var. assamica tea plants between one hundred and several hundred years of age. Some trees are still shrubs, while others require ladders to scale for picking.
This blend of wild-picked tea is heaped in thicker piles in bamboo baskets and allowed to oxidize under the bright Yunnan sun before being turned out for drying. No roast has been applied to the black tea in this tea cake, giving it a higher natural moisture content and the potential to age like sheng pu’er, even with its oxidized and sweet black tea flavor. The addition of tea flowers brings even more sweet, sunny goodness to an already complex base, making for a darker deeper ginger molasses cookie profile, and a rewarding floral complexity.
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.
The He Family’s Laoshan Black has become their most famous tea, earning them features in the US and Chinese news media for their innovative work. This tea is fed by Laoshan’s famously sweet mountain spring water and oxidized traditionally for three days before finishing to bring out rich chocolate notes. This year's spring was particularly cool with its start a full two weeks later than usual. Rich, full bodied and satisfying, Laoshan Black has become our benchmark for all other black teas.
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.
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.
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.
Long, slender hand-twisted green tea loose leaf picked in the early autumn from organic cultivation rocky fields, finished to show off the beauty of the young buds. The flavor is delicate, mineral-driven and sweet through every steeping thanks to the careful hand-finishing, cold northern climate, and innovative growing techniques.
Long slender hand-twisted leaves picked in early spring from organic cultivation rocky fields. Mr. He only makes his green tea loose leaf so that people can appreciate the craft and beauty of his finishing technique. The flavor is delicate, mineral-driven and sweet through every steeping thanks to the careful hand-finishing, cold northern climate, and innovative growing techniques.
Fo Shou, or "Buddha's Hand," varietal is an aromatic and luscious tea in the Li Family collection. The Fo Shou is a wonderfully nuanced citrus fruit, and this tea gets its name for its Fo Shou citrus aromas. The citrus is bolstered by a cinnamon and sandalwood spice, a beautiful compliment brought out through slow hand-firing over low heat. The uniquely large leaves of the Fo Shou varietal unfold beautifully over many infusions.