This black tea sampler includes five 25g loose leaf black tea bags picked, finished and packed on small family farms that make some of the best teas in the world, run with the sustainability and beyond-organic practices that can only come from one generation tending land that they will pass down to their children. The rich deep complexity of the finest black teas comes from stringent picking standards for the ideal tender bud and leaf mix, and from slow careful oxidation to bring out more nuance in small batches. This tasting kit is an introduction to the incredible diversity of flavor that our partners offer with their black teas from malty chocolate-driven Laoshan Black from the north of China to traditional and complex Wuyi black teas. Through craft, varietal, and microclimate, our farmer-partners are proud to represent the best that China has to offer.
This special sampler features four 25g bags of golden buddy looseleaf tea. There is nothing like tender downy tea buds, hand-picked in cool early-season weather and hand finished by passionate small family growers. Buds have a unique flavor, and an intense sweetness from the stored sugars and the extremely limited sun exposure. In traditionally crafted black tea this flavor translates to honey, sweet potato, toasty bread, and other rich deep caramelized notes with a thick commanding texture. This tasting kit is an exploration of all the ways buds bring flavor and texture to tea from three different regions and three different farmers dedicated to sustainable farming and meticulous craft.
Wuyishan Black Tea
the original black tea, grown on a biodiverse mountain & hand finished
Laoshan Black Tea
cold-climate Chinese black tea shaded by ocean mist and fed by spring water
Yunnan Black Tea
Mt. Ailao, Yunnan
wild-foraged loose leaf tea from ancient tea trees in a national forest preserve
The He Family is known for their bold willingness to innovate, and this singular tea is a perfect example of the way they push the boundaries of genre. Wild-picking Laoshan osmanthus and using it to scent buddy resrev-level black tea is still a new craft in Laoshan, just a few years old, but the results have been spectacular, juicy, a and almost oolong-like. This year, He Qingqing wanted to push the idea of oolong inspiration, borrowing roasting craft from Wuyishan and giving her family's black tea a special secondary wood-firing to bring out deep toasty depth. The results really are in the style of teas like Tieluohan. Instead of overwhelming the osmanthus, the roast balances it, adding depth to the honeyed dessert-like qualities of the He Family's black tea.
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.
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 has been perfecting their long oxidation process and unique curling style for Laoshan Black craft for ten years, and this represents their finest autumn offering. Picked from the sweetest most delicate autumn buds, the reserve-level Laoshan Black focuses on rich creamy texture with a balanced deep flavor. It has been years since the weather conditions lined up for a reserve-level harvest, so we are excited that the He Family was able to offer this limited tea to showcase their craft.
Mr He uses meticulous black tea loose leaf finishing techniques to twist and curl these beautiful buds, using traditional sun-oxidation to make a rich and deeply complex black tea. The result is Lashan’s most mineral-forward and complex black tea to date. This tea is fed by mountain spring water, picked by hand, and cultivated sustainably using traditional chemical-free farming techniques including growing rows of soybean between rows of tea to restore nitrates to the soil. The finished tea picks up the rocky minerality of the soil, and careful low temperature roasting brings out deep brown sugar sweetness.
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.
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.
This relatively new tea is fed by sweet mountain spring water and oxidized in the sun for three days before finishing to bring out signature chocolate notes. Mr. He perfected this tea as a proud reflection of the bold Shandong spirit and the perseverance of Laoshan Village. Laoshan Black is a labor of love to prove to the world how wonderful teas from Northern China can be. The cold weather, and pure mountain springs come together for a microclimate that yields some of the sweetest and most chocolatey black tea in China with a unique and distinctly northern flavor. This year in particular, dry and mild weather leading up to autumn in has yielded the sweetest picking in years, but a tiny yield due to reduced rainfall. The He family produced less than half of what they usually would this year.
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.
Mei Zhan varietal is famous for its rich and focused fruit-forward oolong made from long skinny spring leaves. Recently, Mr. Li has been experimenting with a stand of his family’s iconic Mei Zhan in early spring when the plant puts out huge buds that are too delicate to withstand oolong processing. He personally leads the hand-picking of the Li Family Mei Zhan buds and brings them to the family home and workshop in Tongmu for Jin Jun Mei meticulous black tea hand-finishing. The slow oxidation in bamboo baskets brings out big savory notes and sweet rich honey and cream.
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.