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The He Family were some of the first to plant tea in Laoshan, one of China’s newest and northernmost tea growing regions. Laoshan is a mountain village on the ocean, subject to cold winters that give the tea a flavor unlike any other on earth. Mr. He has established a cooperative to promote his award-winning vision for sustainable beyond-organic agriculture and rigorous technically demanding craft.
This collection represents the most classic and iconically representative teas the He Family produces. It is an invitation from Mr. he, Qingqing and the whole family to get to know their passion and their unwavering commitment to make Laoshan one of the most famous tea regions in China. You’s get to taste Laoshan Green, the first tea they ever mastered, along with newer styles such as the wildly-popular Laoshan Black, the new and exciting Laoshan oolongs, and even mountain-foraged Gan Zao Ye, finished using green tea techniques.
While every tea in the collection represents a tremendous diversity of flavor, the whole collection circles around the iconic rich malty soybean profile of the region and the rocky texture of the mountain soil.
Laoshan Gongfu Black is one of the most difficult finishes for the He Family, requiring flat-pressing and hand-twisting and curling to achieve the final shape and finish. Mr. He saves this technique for his finest spring harvests, and this year we’ve been able to secure an even earlier than usual limited picking finished as Gongfu Black for a creamy honey-packed flavor and intriguing mineral-driven sparkle in the aftertaste.
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This early spring harvest from the He Family is the exciting first harvests of the year picked after the protective cold-weather greenhouse coverings are removed (Da Tian Harvest) and finished as classic curled Laoshan Green tea. The exposure to sunlight makes for a bright rich vibrant flavor- one of Mr. He’s favorites of the year. The cooler air the tea is exposed to without greenhouse covering helps balance the increased sunlight for rich, sweet, early-May harvests.
Laoshan Roasted Oolong is an exciting experimental tea, applying traditional Southern Chinese yaoqing technique, an eight hour labor-intensive step, on top of slow careful roasting and curling, to produce a complex and nuanced tea that is distinctly Northern, and distinctly new. It takes the He Family an entire day to produce just a few kilos of this special tea, but the results are worth it. Yaoqing finishing gives deep fruit and floral undertones to the He Family’s trademark chocolate and malty base flavors. The careful kneading and rolling also brings out a beautiful, pure expression of the minerality of the soil and the water.
This tea is the He Family’s answer to the challenge that oolong is only for southern China. Despite Laoshan Village only having fifty years of tea cultivation and oolong being the most technically demanding kind of tea in the world to produce, Mr. He comes through brilliantly. The careful kneading and rolling brings out a beautiful, pure expression of the minerality of the soil and the water. This tea is processed without a roast for a true green flavor of Laoshan.
Gan Zao Ye is wild-foraged Laoshan Jujube leaf, hand picked and carefully hand finished using the painstaking withering, fixing, curling and drying process that the He family reserves for their early spring Laoshan Green. This year’s classic spring harvest is sweet and creamy, with a delicious hint of toasted rice or barley. This herbal tisane is naturally caffeine-free.
Our farm sits at sea level, protected from the sun by the ocean mist
that rolls up the slopes of the steep Laoshan mountainsides. Our parents began
cultivating tea in this village sixty years ago and started the right way with
organic farming & respect for the ecosystem of our Taoist holy mountain.
We hand pick every leaf and hand-finish our tea in small batches.
We hope you’ll taste for yourself to understand what makes our family’s tea
from the northernmost tea region in China so unique.”
He Changke is a proud 2nd generation tea farmer.
His father was one of the first people to plant tea in the village outside of the Taoist monastery, pioneering organic farming with a vision of making Laoshan the most famous tea microclimate in China. Mr. He is passing on his father’s work to his daughter He Qingqing, co-owner of importer Verdant Tea.
Qingqing and her parents have worked together to not only improve the craft of the region, but invent entirely new tea types to bring fame to Laoshan and raise up their village.
The He Family hopes that tea will be the path to better living for the whole region, and believe a healthy tea industry in Laoshan is the best way to champion environmental protection for Laoshan National Park.
In the south, mild climates mean easier seasons. Here in the north, we rebuild greenhouses every winter, cut back every summer, and grow soybeans between tea fields as a way to distract insects and to mulch and return nitrates to our soil.
When picking season arrives, we have a short window of perfect weather to hand pick every tender bud .
We hand-finish every leaf in our family workshop. Every 100g of finished tea takes more than a pound of fresh picked leaves. Many of our teas take over 16 hours of craft to get from fresh leaves to finished tea.
We take no shortcuts in our craft because we believe that Laoshan unique climate can produce some of the best teas in the world.
Many importers claim to source from small family farms, but are they actually sharing the stories, values, and point of view of the farmers?
Don’t settle for tea of questionable origins. See the people behind the tea and hear the real stories. The He Family and Verdant Tea have been working together for almost a decade. Here are just two videos from our time together: