Yunnan JingMai Wild Arbor Tea

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Black Tea

 

Yunnan Jing Mai Wild Arbor Tea

– new lot – now from spring 2017

 

Manufacture: traditional dian hong manufacture
Oxidization: fully-oxidized

 

Appearance: very wiry slender pluck with little tip. Elegant, village-made tea
Flavor: complex, familiar, sweet Yunnan dian hong flavor
Aroma: booming, enticing aromatics
Liquor: deep claret colored liquor

 

JingMai Shan, Lancang County
Pu-erh (Simao) Prefecture
Yunnan Province, China

2017 Spring
(June)

Use 2.5 Tablespoons (2-3 grams) per 6 oz water
Steep 1 infusion at 3-5 minutes
Water temperature should be 190°F-200°F

 

Steeping Tip:

 

Definitely steep this leaf a second time if the first steeping is on the short side of our suggestion.
This leaf is extremely large so if you are measuring by volume be sure to use a generous amount. The volume quantity of it by weight yields a particularly large quantity of leaf so keep that in mind when measuring!
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Is Yunnan black tea dian hong or hong cha?

 

Terminology for Chinese teas can be confusing. For example, in China hong cha is the term for ‘red’ tea –  what we in the West call black tea. It can be used to describe any tea from any of the black tea producing regions of China. For example: one might refer to a Fujian Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong as a northern Fujian hong cha or a Keemun black tea from Anhui Province as an Anhui hong cha.

Conversely, hong cha teas of Yunnan Province are called dian hong instead. Dian is an old historical name for parts of today’s Yunnan Province, so dian hong is still how Yunnan black tea are referred to. Some say that dian hong should just refer to the modern-style plantation style teas and not the forest teas made from indigenous varieties of old tea bush varietals.
We, on the other hand, generally use the term dian hong to mean the opposite. Yunnan has such a long history of producing both Pu-erh and dian hong that we think dian hong should be reserved for tea in the historical since –  the traditional, small village teas made from forest gathered leaf materials.

 

On rested and aged Yunnan Dian Hong:

 

New harvest seasonal Yunnan black teas are delicious – but rested or aged versions of these teas can be twice as rewarding! Tea Trekker’s Yunnan black teas are plucked in various types of tea gardens – older plantation gardens and forested arbor bushes and trees (wild to semi-wild plants). Not all black tea ages well, but we find that hand-crafted teas from both Yunnan Province and regions of Eastern China keep and age wonderfully.

The bushes and trees that are plucked to make out Yunnan teas represent different generations of plants and are comprised of many unique cultivars found growing throughout the heavily forested mountain tea growing regions of Yunnan. These varietals and cultivars are broad-leafed varieties – known collectively as dayeh – that produce large, long leaves that reflect the richness of their forested habitat and the plants close genetic connection to the wild tea trees of Assam India – Camellia assamica. This habitat and size is one of the reasons why Yunnan black teas are so rich and full in the mouth.

Tea such as this offers the luxury of time as they will store well and maintain and develop flavor complexity for several years.  We love Yunnan dian hong and prefer to drink them when they have mellowed a bit – one or two years after manufacture. In most cases, the teas can be kept for much longer.

The key to ageing these teas is proper storage (cool and reasonable airtight – a ceramic jar is ideal) which will serve to underscore and preserve the inherent concentration of flavor elements that premium Yunnan leaf has in abundance.

Here at Tea Trekker we have become cheerleaders for the dian hong from Yunnan Province: leaf grown and manufactured into delicious black tea in a beautifully diverse and tea-friendly region in the southwest of China.

This wild arbor dian hong is from JingMaiShan, a mountain region located in the southern part of the Simao Prefecture – a region known to Pu-erh lovers as a remote, mountainous place that produces high-grade fresh leaf from indigenous tea bush cultivars, which is then turned into fantastic tea. Whether harvested from old plantings or new, the leaf from this region has special taste qualities that yield delicious types of both Pu-erh and dian hong/hong cha.

JingMai Wild Arbor tea has some red-fruit undertones of an eastern China black tea – it is very complex, aromatic, and has a clean, dry, and austere style. It has the straight-forward crispness of some eastern China hong cha (such as Lao Zhong, Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, or Bai Lin) but with more softness and a booming aromatic (especially in the dry leaf) and a large amount of ‘returning flavor’. There are some caramel notes that typify Yunnan black tea and also a touch of a spicy, cacao/cinnamon styling that show a well-controlled and modest oxidation.

The leaf is very long and elegant, wiry and slender and there is little tip in the leaf. The leaf is primarily a dark-charcoal color with a matte finish due to a modest firing. It is similar to both the AiLao and Yi Mei Ren in its having a dry, austere style, but it is more complex than either. The tea bushes that provide this leaf are among the indigenous, heirloom varietals from Yunnan Province that we find so tasty.

The body/mouth-feel is modest yet is more than offset by the completely intoxicating flavor components. These are tobacco, cacao/dark chocolate, and ripe red fruits – and are abundant. The ‘returning flavor’ is also abundant, one of the most lingering aftertastes that we have tasted in some time. The dry leaf has a booming aromatic that is delightful and creates much anticipation. This aroma does not make much of an appearance in the first steeping, however, if you re-steep the leaf the aroma  releases into the second cup.

The color of the tea liquor is a deep claret – beautiful in a white cup or china mug.  Our JingMai Wild Arbor tea is on the one hand typical of a classic Yunnan black, but we think that this Wild Arbor pluck is also more interesting on the complexity scale. If you appreciate the Wu Yi rock oolongs such as Rou Gui, with its spicy, cinnamon-dry finish then you will love this tea. Make no mistake, this tea is full-bodied and  very complex in the top-notes – it will be accommodating to most any preparation and style of serving. But if you want to enjoy the classic dian hong Yunnan caramel-honeyed flavor that other of our Yunnan selections offer, then this is not the tea for you. However, if you are interested in stretching a little and trying a tea that is a bit more unique, this tea is it.

As with many Yunnan black teas, this tea re-steeps very well with fresh water (depending on the length of time of the first steeping) and the aromatic qualities of a second steeping are well worth the effort!

The Ancient Tea Forests of the JingMai area has been declares a Unesco Heritage Site for its biodiversity and value to the peoples who live there, the history of tea production and the place JingMai has in the tea history of China

Prefer JingMai sheng Pu-erh?  Please see our Loose-leaf JingMai Purple Leaf Sheng Pu-erh .