This kit is a rare opportunity to try all four of the Wuyi tea varietals recognized as the 武夷四大名枞, the Wuyi Si Da Ming Cong. These are the four teas recognized by traditional consensus as the most definitive representation of the flavors, textures and aromas that Wuyi oolong has to offer.
If you are interested in getting a glimpse at the aesthetic “standard-bearers” of the weighty Wuyi traditional this is the place to start. These four teas in many ways set the modern vision of the ideal, and their deep minerality, textural complexity and layered aromatics are strived for and judged against at every Wuyi tea competition.
With the Li Family’s perfectly situated plot of old growth tea within the true Wuyi Ecological Preserve designation, and their commitment to biodiversity in the fields and meticulous hand firing in the workshop, it is no wonder that their Si Da Ming Cong teas earn them gold medals year after year.
With such small harvests it is a rare event to have all four Si Da Ming Cong in stock at the same time. If you are interested in a foundational understanding of the quintessential Wuyi flavor, try these together while they are here.
Li Xiangxi's family grows this tea within the Wuyishan Ecological Preserve, hand picking every leaf and delicately roasting this tea in bamboo baskets over charcoal embers to bring out the natural minerality of the region. Li Xiangxi's eldest brother oversees the family's oolong teas, and believes strongly in standing against the modern trend to over-roast and cover the natural flavor of the tea. This makes the family's Big Red Robe unique among its peers. While Big Red Robe is named after five original bushes that still stand today in Wuyishan, modern Big Red Robe is made from Qidan varietal, which is known for its tremendous balance, and deep warmth. It is truly the archetypal tea of the region, and the place to start your exploration of Wuyi Oolongs as a grounding point of reference. The LI Family’s Big Red Robe consistently wins gold medals at Wuyi tea competitions.
This aged Tie Luohan (or Iron Arhat) is one of the four famous varietals that define Wuyi oolong teas. Originally roasted and finished over several months in 2009, the Li Family has carefully re-roasted and rested this tea each year over the past eight years. Each meticulous hand-firing process takes over sixteen hours, and in total this tea has been fired fourteen times for deep intense texture and powerful aftertaste. Full of fudgey, salty sweetness, this powerfully flavorful tea steeps out in a long flavor arc over many brews into beautiful mineral sweetness with soothing throat-coating texture and a hint of clean mustiness.
Shui Jin Gui (Golden Water Turtle) is one of the four famous varietals that define Wuyi oolong teas, making it a very sought after commodity, with true Shui Jin Gui varietal in low supply. The Li Family treats this spring harvest tea to a slow and subtle hand-firing to bring out the minerality that comes from growing tea in the mist covered rocky Longchuan gorge in the Wuyishan Nature Preserve without covering the natural fruit and citrus flavor that makes Shui Jin Gui so famous.
Bai Ji Guan is a famous (though rarely-seen) 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.
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 f