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.
This Qidan varietal was picked by the Li Family on their hillside plot within the Wuyishan Ecological Preserve. After a 24 hour withering and oxidizing process, this tea was hand-fired over another 16 hours and allowed to rest a full month before release. The result is an incredibly sweet and dessert-like tea with buttery, sticky pudding qualities brought out by the caramelization of sugars. The sweetness reveals cinnamon spice and warm dark fruit.
Tie Luohan (or Iron Arhat) is one of the four famous varietals that define Wuyi oolong teas, making it highly sought after, with true Tie Luohan varietal in low supply. The Li Family uses a meticulously slow hand firing to bring out the varietal’s natural qualities - a balance of minerality, chocolate notes and subtle florals. Delightfully, the tea finishes with cooling spice and a lingering sparkle that pushes towards yun.
To produce a Special Grade offering requires perfect weather, perfectly situated old-growth tea stock, shaded by mist through the spring, expert hand-picking and critically, an exhaustive production process of small batch hand yaoqing and five to six rounds of hand-firing. The Li Family is only able to produce a few kilos of this special tea every year. Li Xiangxi sets aside a small allotment for us because she loves Shui Jin Gui varieties so much that she wants to share what she thinks is one of the truest expressions of Wuyishan with interested tea lovers outside of China. Tasting notes can’t capture the critical tingling cooling sparkling sensation that is yun and the way that it lingers in the back of the throat, building with each sip and letting each steeping build on the potency of the one before.
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.
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 processso 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 yunin 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 Teabecause of years of friendship and deep shared values. We invite you to explore just a handful of videosfrom 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.