Verdant Tea

"All tea tells a story.
 All tea has something to offer if we listen to what it is saying.

It is my responsibility to listen and not tell. I cannot force a tea into a certain flavor or aroma with craft. This is because true craft starts in the field, not the workshop. Good agricultural craft requires biodiversity, preserving the wildlife and natural forest cover, respecting the natural mountain springs, and keeping chemicals off of my tea and off of my neighbors’ teas.

If craft in the field is done right, craft in the workshop is about listening. It is about helping a tea become what it wants to be.

I have spent my life helping my village of Daping bring honesty and integrity to tea farming and oolong craft. We stand together against the factory farming that weighs so heavily on the Anxi lowlands ecosystems.

We are making Tieguanyin and countless other cultivars the way that they want to be made, in the environment where they want to grow. I invite you to taste our work for yourself and see."

- Zhang Rongde 张荣德

Our Most Popular Teas

  1. 2021 Spring Traditional Tieguanyin 2021 Spring Traditional Tieguanyin
    As low as $6.95
    In stock
  2. 2021 Autumn Reserve Traditional Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $12.25
    In stock
  3. 2021 Spring Original Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $1.75 As low as $1.40
    Sale
  4. 2003 Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $10.75
    In stock
  5. 2003 Aged Mao Xie Product
    Regular Price $9.95 As low as $7.96
    Sale
  6. 2021 Dark Roast Anxi Ruan Zhi Product
    Regular Price $2.00 As low as $1.60
    Sale

Our Home: Daping Village

our tea fields above the reservoir
Native plants and grasses grow alongside our tea
  • ● uniquely-balanced terroir of rock and sand for perfect mineral driven texture

  • high elevation mist and clouds protect tea from sun and insects

  • fully organic zero-impact farming techniques for clean and nuanced tea

  • terraced fields absorb sweet mountain spring water

  • isolated and remote high elevation plot is protected from lowland industrial tea farms’ impact

  • in the process of certification for the intensive “Original Ecological Preserve” designation for true net-zero impact farming in harmony with nature

 

Our Family

 

Zhang Rongde was one of the first in Daping village to go to university.

He returned with an advanced degree in agricultural science and helped his community establish responsible chemical-free farming during the commune era. He comes from a long line of tea farmers, picking today plants established by his parents and grandparents.

After the communes were disbanded, Master Zhang was awarded the highest elevation plots in the region for his leadership role in pioneering sustainable, biodiversity-focused agriculture. He has won countless awards for his family’s teas, and still spends every day not only finishing his own teas but helping his neighbors improve their craft by visiting their workshops.

He is most proud not of his awards for quality, but his award for integrity, bestowed by his peers in recognition of his community leadership in transparency and for his work to tie pricing to a set of agreed upon standards of flavor, texture, aroma and aftertaste.

As a pioneer and community leader, Master Zhang is often travelling to far off regions to study other traditions. He has spent time studying and researching in Yiwu, Yunnan learning about old tree management and sun drying techniques, travelling to Japan and Taiwan, and studying in Fenghuang with Master Huang Ruiguang - exchanging Anxi oolong and Fenghuang oolong techniques and continuing to develop his ability to taste and evaluate.

Master Zhang and Hunag Rui Guang brew tea together
Zhang Rongde with his award recognizing his transparency & integrity
Wang Huimin and Master Zhang in the workshop

Our Tea & Craft

Zhang Rongde works with fresh tea leaves late into the morning
fresh picked leaves from a small experimental planting of "red heart" Tieguanyin

 

Tea requires hardship.

You cannot follow a simple protocol and expect to make great tea. You have to be willing to put aside everything to see a batch through to the end.

Often a single batch of oolong means over 40 hours in the workshop without sleep to get it just right, and that does not count the time in the fields.

My job really starts in the field, working actively to strengthen the natural ecosystem through my farming choices and also working to research, revive and propagate rare, new or nearly lost cultivars, all to increase biodiversity and secure a better future for oolong.

I grow dozens of different cultivars, some planted by my grandparents with old, deep rootstock. Each varietal has different picking times and different “ideals” in the field and in the workshop.

Every weather condition not only changes picking times but changes the way I fluff and turn the leaves to bring out their aroma, the way I roast them, the moisture levels I aim for; this all requires flexibility, determination, and humility in the face of nature.

Despite the hardship, I love what I do.

Tea is a collaboration between the skies, the earth and us, the people, that can create humbling beauty and complexity.

Seeking this complexity has inspired me to go beyond current styles in oolong and research lost styles like Original Wulong Revival.

Hear our vision for tea

 

Too much of the world’s “Tieguanyin” comes from big factory farms that have bought up most of lowland Anxi. These teas are passed off as the real thing because many retailers and importers do not know better.

I want to give anyone who loves tea the education and tools necessary to tell the difference. That is why I work with importer Verdant Tea to tell my story. I hope you’ll take the time to learn about the place I call home and the way I work to craft my teas.

More interviews >>

Learn even more!

  1. 2021 Spring Traditional Tieguanyin 2021 Spring Traditional Tieguanyin
    As low as $6.95
    In stock
  2. 2021 Autumn Reserve Traditional Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $12.25
    In stock
  3. 2021 Original Tieguanyin Revival Product
    As low as $1.75
    In stock
  4. 2021 Autumn Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $6.75
    In stock
  5. 2021 Autumn Traditional Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $7.00
    In stock
  6. 2021 Reserve Spring Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $2.35
    In stock
  7. 2021 Spring Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $1.75
    In stock
  8. 2021 Special Grade Spring Tieguanyin 2021 Special Grade Spring Tieguanyin
    As low as $4.40
    In stock
  9. 2021 Autumn Reserve Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $12.00
    In stock
  10. 2020 Autumn Reserve Tieguanyin 2020 Autumn Reserve Tieguanyin
    As low as $11.75
    Low Stock
  1. 2021 Spring Original Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $1.75 As low as $1.40
    Sale
  2. 2003 Aged Mao Xie Product
    Regular Price $9.95 As low as $7.96
    Sale
  3. 2021 Dark Roast Anxi Ruan Zhi Product
    Regular Price $2.00 As low as $1.60
    Sale
  4. 2021 Dark Roast Anxi Rou Gui Product
    Regular Price $2.00 As low as $1.60
    Sale
  5. 2021 Full Roast Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $8.25 As low as $6.60
    Sale
  6. 2021 Dark Roast Anxi Ba Xian Product
    Regular Price $2.00 As low as $1.60
    Sale
  7. 2021 Dark Roast Anxi Jin Suo Shi Product
    Regular Price $2.00 As low as $1.60
    Sale
  8. 2021 Dark Roast Liao Mian Ji Product
    Regular Price $1.75 As low as $1.40
    Sale
  9. 2005 Aged Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $8.75 As low as $7.00
    Sale
  10. 2020 Autumn Original Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $2.00 As low as $1.60
    Sale
  11. 2020 Special Grade Rou Gui Revival 2020 Special Grade Rou Gui Revival
    Regular Price $4.00 As low as $3.20
    Sale
  12. 2020 Dark Roast Anxi Qilan Product
    Regular Price $6.95 As low as $5.56
    Sale
  13. 2020 Qing Xiang Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $69.75 As low as $55.80
    Sale
  14. 2020 Autumn Traditional Mao Xie Product
    Regular Price $6.75 As low as $5.40
    Sale
  15. 2020 Autumn Mao Xie Product
    Regular Price $6.50 As low as $5.20
    Sale
  16. 2003 Aged Wulong Revival 2003 Aged Wulong Revival
    Regular Price $12.00 As low as $9.60
    Sale
  1. 2005 Aged Wulong Revival Product
    Regular Price $8.75 As low as $7.00
    Sale
  2. 2005 Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $8.75
    Low Stock
    Quantity remaining:5
  3. 2003 Aged Wulong Revival 2003 Aged Wulong Revival
    Regular Price $12.00 As low as $9.60
    Sale
  4. 2003 Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $10.75
    In stock
  5. 2003 Aged Mao Xie Product
    Regular Price $9.95 As low as $7.96
    Sale
  6. 2000 Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $12.00
    Low Stock
    Quantity remaining:0
  7. 1995 Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $4.25
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  8. 1990 Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $5.50
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  9. 1985 Special Grade Qing Xiang Aged Tieguanyin Product
    As low as $6.50
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  10. 1985 Aged Tieguanyin Product
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    As low as $11.00
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