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Wuyishan is one of the most famous tea growing regions in the world, and true hand-crafted tea from within the Wuyi Ecological Preserve is incredibly elusive with a proliferation of imitations out there. That is why we are so lucky to be working with the dynamic award-winning Li Family, who have been visionaries in restoring biodiversity and forest cover within the preserve and leaders in oolong craft.
Li Xiangxi, founder of the Yangxian Institute of Tea Culture, works with her brother and cousin to finish deep aromatica and wildly complex oolongs, as well as traditional old-school black teas from their ancestral home in Tongmu.
This collection represents Li Xiangxi’s tasting curriculum, the most important flavors, textures and aromas to be familiar with in beginning to understand what makes Wuyishan so special. This kit has been put together to provide a foundation to explore the wider Li Family collection with a deep tasting vocabulary, and of course, to come out with a true sense of the Wuyi microclimate.
This Qidan varietal was picked by the Li Family in 2010, then carefully re-roasted each year over the past seven years. The additional roasting and aging process has brought out truly beautiful qualities in this tea. The warm, chocolatey savory-sweet notes of Qi Dan Big Red Robe kick off each brewing session, but this aged tea builds into cooling sweetness and camphory mustiness that only comes with age. The lovely mineral texture continues hand-in-hand with warm cozy flavor for a big, engaging texture throughout long brewing sessions.
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Bai Ji Guan is a rare and unique varietal in Wuyi. The Li Family cultivates a small amount of Bai Ji Guan on their mountainside plot. This extremely light, beautiful, almost Dancong-like tea is full of the mineral notes that define Wuyi. It is thick and packed with unique vegetal undertones and florals. The Li Family’s careful cultivation and roasting means gorgeous giant light-colored leaves and a bright crisp brew.
This beautiful oolong smells like roasted pumpkin seeds and semolina right out of the bag. As we start steeping, we pick up herbaceous & complex rosemary notes along with white pepper & toasted burdock. As the tea opens up, its true nature starts to show with rich candied citrus peel and warm marigold. Through multiple infusions, the tea remains tightly composed, bright and sunny. As the aftertaste builds up, you can taste the beautiful stoney minerality of Wuyishan and the Li Family’s rocky soil.
This 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.
Bai Rui Xiang varietal is named after the Winter Daphne, a heady aromatic flower native to China. Traditionally finished as an oolong, this tea always has a rich nuanced undercurrent of incense spice and cooling tingling minerality. This season, the Li Family saved a small portion of this reserve harvest Bai Rui Xiang to finish as a black tea using old-school sun-oxidation in bamboo baskets at the family workshop in Tongmu. The result is an incredibly complex black tea where the intense florals of the oolong finish take a back seat to the cooling tingling textural excitement this tea has to offer, along for a rich spiced brew full of Wuyi’s famous minerality.
My family has been tending to wild bushes and farming old tea trees
within the preserve for generations.
Living in a place of such natural beauty, we have come to seek balance
in our agriculture and balance in our tea. We preserve the natural forest cover,
we use beyond-organic methods, and we finish our teas by hand in small batches
– all to honor the gift of the place we call home.
I invite you to take the time to taste in our tea the deep complexity, rich texture, and intense aromatics
that define the true heritage of the Wuyishan Ecological Preserve.”
Li Xiangxi is an ordained Taoist priest, and founded the Yangxian Academy to teach Taoist tea ceremony as well as a philosophy of tasting and growing tea that is in harmony with nature.
While many investor-backed farmers ignored environmental laws in the early 2000’s, tearing out native trees to plant more tea, Li Xiangxi worked with her brother and cousin to reduce the family’s footprint when she inherited the land, encouraging rich wildlife and biodiversity. This effort has made her family pioneers in sustainable farming and local champions as the whole region becomes more mindful of its future and responsibility as the most famous growing region in the world.
Li Xiangxi and her family’s harvests amy be smaller, but their care in agriculture and their meticulous hand-finishing process have won them awards and inspired change throughout the region.
We finish each leaf with the care that it takes to create tea with lingering aromatics, intense aftertaste, rich engaging texture, and the elusive yun, or after-sensation.
We delicately tease out the aromatics through an 18 hour fluffing and turning process so demanding that our family can’t take the time to sleep when tea is being finished. We devote ourselves fully to the process and see it all the way through.
When our teas’ aromatics are just right we lock them in with another 16 hour hand firing, a nearly lost art that we are working to maintain to bring out texture and yun in every leaf. After the initial firing, we rest our teas at least a month and often re-fire up to five time for the perfect balance.
Our dedication wins us gold medals annually at Wuyi tasting competitions, but more importantly, it honors the gift of tea that this incredible region gives us.
We aren’t in this business for money. We share tea as a connection to nature and as a cultural bridge. We work with importer Verdant Tea because of years of friendship and deep shared values. We invite you to explore just a handful of videos from our time together.
If you are buying tea from one of the most famous regions in the world, video sharing the voices of the growers should be one of the most basic minimums from any importer.