The Qianjiazhai Dongsa Cooperative was established to be a steward to the oldest tea forest in the world, wild-foraging and hand-finishing every leaf using traditional craft.
Camellia crassicolumna is a close relative to the tea plant, growing wild in the forests of Qianjiazhai alongside Camellia sinensis var. assamica and many other near-relative species that are even now being categorized by botanists. Crassicolumna grows distinctively tall, making it very difficult to pick, but the payoff is a deeply complex spice-forward flavor, and intense lingering sweetness, all without caffeine. When finished like sheng pu’er, Camellia crassicolumna ages just like tea into deeper complexity.
Mr. Zhou blended the giant crassicolumna leaves with about 10% tea flowers picked from wildly propagated Camellia sinensis var. assamica plants. These flowers add a tiny amount of caffeine back into the mix, but also add deep sweetness and a sunny marigold profile, rounding out the crisp edge of the Crassicolumna with layers of sweet deep complexity.
wildly propagated crassicolumna; photo credit Lily Duckler