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.
This unique black tea is picked from the early spring leaves and tender buds of the Camellia Crassicolumna tree, a close relative of the tea plant native to Qianjiazhai. Crassicolumna is naturally caffeine-free and high in antioxidants. Since Crassicolumna is native to the Qianjiazhai region, there are many examples of staggeringly old Crassicolumna trees. Mr. Li of the cooperative is actually employed by the local government as an environmental protection officer to make sure these ancient trees are protected from poaching, where outsiders would sneak in in the cover of darkness to cut the tall trees and quickly harvest their precious leaves. Mr. Li has found that the best way to protect the trees is to allow sustainable wild foraging by the people living in the protected region in exchange for their help watching over remote Crassicolumna groves. This extremely rare and labor-intensive to harvest offering is allowed to slowly sun-roast to oxidize and finished as a unique black tea with a rich fruity but wild flavor, all without the caffeine you’d see in camellia sinensis. This year's harvest was pressed into 100g cakes of tea.