This is a classic, mouthwatering dian hong. What makes this tea so delicious are the small contributions made by many factors, but what is most important is that its flavor and style is unique and distinctive.
One of the first unique aspects that we liked about this tea is its enticing aroma, reminiscent of darkly-roasted coffee or bitter chocolate. While we have tasted Yunnan black teas that have had a preponderance of a biscuit or ‘burnt-toast’ aroma, this coffee-ish/cocoa aroma is much more unusual and quite delicious.
This is an elegant tea in appearance and taste. The slender ‘leaves’ are actually slender buds – sweet and delicious – that are each covered in a downy felt which signifies an early spring pluck. This tea will age extremely well and we expect to store some personally that we won’t even start to drink until a year to a year and a half have gone by, or even longer. Which is not to say that we won’t be drinking it right away; because we will be! Both styles of drinking are fantastic!
Southwest China is one of the original locations for the tea plant– and dian hong from Yunnan is one of our favorite types of Chinese hong cha. We especially like tea from the area where the Imperial Dian Hong is made – Feng Qing County in Lincang Prefecture. This area is famous for producing delicious and varied dian hong tea. Here, in remote areas, tea bushes thrive in the perfect climate, producing robust raw materials from many different sub-varieties of tea trees and tea bushes which yield distinctive teas in the tea factories.
This leaf is plucked two times each year – in the early spring and in the fall. This tea is made from local tea bush cultivars that send out new leaf that is generally smaller in size than that of other tea bushes growing in this region; however, the bushes that produce this Imperial Dian Hong pluck send up these elegantly long, large buds. The flavor of this tea has a slight leathery, smoky initial taste, followed by the familiar dian hong biscuit, caramel flavor and then the cacao and coffee-like flavor. Spring tea is light and sweet while fall tea is richer and mellower. Not a bad choice either way!