Li Xiangxi works with her brother and cousins in the Wuyi Ecological Preserve to harvest this propagated-from-seed Xiaozhong varietal leaf and process it using traditional heap oxidization techniques and curling to bring out the tea’s natural complexity. Grown on a hillside in a ravine that collects a pocket of natural mist all morning, the tea buds slowly, yielding an incredibly sweet brew. The tea picks up mineral texture from the rocky volcanic soil and the natural spring water running through the Li Family’s plot. Deeper complexity comes from the natural genetic variation of allowing their Xiaozhong tea to grow from seed instead of cuttings, creating a rich multi-layered taste experience.
This is the first year this tea has ever been made. The Gu Hua harvest is an early autumn picking possible only in the cool high elevation mountaintops of Qianjiazhai, favored by Master Zhou for its fruity, rich flavor. In years past, this has been used exclusively for sheng pu’er. This year, a small portion was set aside to sun-oxidize as a black tea. The results are stunning! It has all the juicy flavor of the sheng pu’er but with creamy nutty depth only possible in a black tea.
This black loose leaf tea is wild-foraged by the Li Family of the Dongsa Cooperative within the Mt Ailao National Forest Preserve. The silvery buds and twisting golden leaves are picked from ancient tea trees between one hundred and eight hundred years old scattered between other evergreens, and wildflowers on the rocky mountainside. This labor-intensive tea to harvest is actually allowed to sun-roast and oxidize without applying heat in a wok. Because more moisture is retained in the leaf, this black tea is a fantastic candidate for aging like traditional sheng pu’er. Only a high-elevation remote place like Qianjiazhai can count on enough sunlight in the spring for this old but rare finishing technique. The result is a tea with the sweet malt of a black tea but the staggering complexity and herbaceous undertones of a sheng pu’er. A true standout!
This tea is wild-foraged by the Li Family of the Dongsa Cooperative within the Mt Ailao National Forest Preserve. The silvery buds and twisting golden leaves are picked from ancient tea trees between one hundred and eight hundred years old scattered between other evergreens, and wildflowers on the rocky mountainside. This incredibly labor-intensive tea to harvest is actually allowed to sun-roast and oxidize without applying heat in a wok. Because more moisture is retained in the leaf, this black tea is a fantastic candidate for aging like traditional sheng pu’er. Only a high-elevation remote place like Qianjiazhai can count on enough sunlight in the spring for this old but rare finishing technique. The result is a tea with the sweet malt of a black tea but the staggering complexity and herbaceous undertones of a sheng pu’er. The loose Maocha is lightly steamed and then meticulously rolled and shaped one pearl at a time by Master Zhou without the use of molds or machinery to preserve the delicate complexity of the tea.
Master Zhou loves the distinctive flavor of "huang pian" or golden leaves that are normally left out of sheng pu’er cakes for a consistent aesthetic. These leaves have an intense, juicy, fruity flavor unlike anything else, and Master Zhou decided to show off their beauty in a special, fully-oxidized black tea pressing that is just as beautiful to drink now as it is for long term aging.
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 is the first time the Dongsa Cooperative has blended their hand fired Yunnan Golden Buds black tea with wild tea flowers foraged from ancient tea trees. The rich, malty, spice flavor that classic wok-firing brings this black tea is a beautiful contrast that brings out the tea flowers’ spice and sweetness. The tea is picked from trees in the Ailao National Forest between 100 and up to a thousand years old, fired in tiny batches and oxidized in the Yunnan Sun to bring out intense complexity. Pressing the tea in a cake helps the tea flowers come together with the tea and prepares the cake for long term aging.
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.
True Competition-Level Black Tea from Laoshan. This is the earliest, sweetest, most delicate harvest of the year, meticulously hand-rolled and twisted in the style of high-end Wuyi tea. The "gongfu" finish brings out notes of nutmeg, brown sugar, and fine dark chocolate.
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.
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.
For the sixth year in a row, Li Xiaoping is sharing her new Dragonwell Black Tea! She uses the same delicate early buds as her famous green tea, hand-picked from the slopes of Shi Feng, raised on sweet mountain spring water and covered in high elevation mist to protect against sunlight. After light twisting and rolling, this sweet, rich and distinctly mineral-laden tea is then set out in bamboo baskets and loosely covered for ten to fifteen hours and allowed to oxidize in the afternoon heat. This oxidation process brings out savory malty flavors in Li Xiaoping’s Dragonwell that show the unique texture of the region in a completely different light.
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.