Wild Tongmu Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is picked one young leaf at a time, entirely by hand, and entirely by native residents living Tongmu. The tea plants are wildly propagated by seed and left untended. This natural selection creates genetic variation and diversity between each standalone tea bush. Each bush grows between one and three meters high, out of cracks in the volcanic rock of the Tongmu mountains.
The region of Tongmu is unique within the Wuyishan region for its volcanic rock formations, and extremely thick vegetation coverage and biodiversity. Nestled along either bank upstream of the Jiuqu (Nine Bends) Brook, the mountains create a unique microclimate, perfect for many species of birds and a healthy ecosystem. Mountain spring water springs out of the ground and runs down every slope, and the rocky land and cold weather make for slow-growing but singularly incredible tea.
Li Xiangxi’s parents manage the family’s local pine wood collection and select and dry each piece of wood perfectly to minimize actual smoke and maximize the release of oils and resins, yielding the most subtle smoked tea we have ever tasted. The smoke flavor adds a rich creaminess along with deep cooling forest notes, and almost no actual smoke flavor
The aroma of the wet leaf reminds us of deep forest and a distant campfire. All of the wet pine and moss you find while hiking Tongmu is present. The first sips of the tea reveals an incredibly rich, thick and creamy textural experience, like sipping frothed cream with roasted chestnuts. As the tea continues to steep out, we pick up lychee fruit and vanilla in the aftertaste. In late steepings, a hot cedar sauna aroma started to emerge, followed by a salty, chocolatey sweetness like cookie dough.
Throughout every steeping, the tea maintains a perfect balance of wood aroma, creamy mouthfeel and lingering mineral rock aftertaste. The smoke crafting in this tea only serves to reveal the beautiful complexity of each wild-picked leaf, not to overwhelm or transform.