Yunnan Purple Varietal Wild Tea Tree Dian Hong

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Black Tea

 

Yunnan Purple Varietal Wild Tea Tree Dian Hong

 

Appearance: large leaf mixture of open-twist leaf and bud-set pluck. The leaf is an unusual dark brown coloration, with some burgundy edging
Manufacture: traditional dian hong manufacture
Oxidation: fully-oxidized
Flavor: pure Yunnan dian hong flavor with ‘woodsy’ notes
Aroma: complex, warm but clean aroma
Liquor: medium-clear amber-colored liquor tinged with silver

 

Dehong Prefecture
Yunnan Province, China

2017 Spring Pluck
(May)

Use 2 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:

 

We sometimes rinse this leaf as we do for an oolong or Pu-erh.

If  this tea is steeped for 4 minutes or less, this tea can easily be re-steeped in order to coax all the goodness from this flavor-packed leaf.

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.

We are very excited to introduce this 2017 harvest Purple Varietal Wild Tea Tree Dian Hong black tea from Yunnan Province. It is simply delicious and incredibly unique in the family of black teas, even among those from Yunnan Province or within the Purple Varietal offerings.

This is a delicious addition to the ‘tea pantry’ of both a Yunnan tea enthusiast and those who have never tasted a Purple Varietal Yunnan dian hong. This tea was manufactured from several very old varietals of Camellia sinensis – including but not limited to the Ye Sheng varietal – which was identified and named even before the Assamica variety in eastern Assam, India.

This natural, local, indigenous blended manufacture represents both the sense of terroir that we celebrate in the variety of tea bushes plucked during the tea harvests in Yunnan Province, and also the skill of Bob’s tea blending skill and art in combining several growths of the Purple Varietals from different sub-regions and unique cultivars – all historically important to the dian hong of Yunnan Province. Similar to the goals sought when blending different leaf for Pu-erh, when combining several unique teas together to create a particular taste in a blend of exceptional Purple Varietal black teas, Bob combined three special Purple Varietal sourcings in a challenging but rewarding process.

Grown from 1500 – 2500 meters in altitude, the core teas come from hearty trees that reflect the terroir of the forest habitat in Yunnan Province.

The base leaf is comprised of two very different plucks, from several different regions within Dehong Prefecture in Yunnan Province. This combination is augmented with a quantity of 100% bud-set that is quite rare and unusual.

The large leaf base teas show an open, gentle twist. The color is predominately brown and cordovan with an edging of the rich, dark reddish stain that is unique to the Purple Varietal cultivar, and is reminiscent of the color of burgundy wine in the glass. The wet leaf shows a similar profile, however the leaf takes on a dull hue (with a soft glisten from the absorption of water).

The aroma of the dry leaf is reminiscent of a well-made yan cha from the Wu Yi Shan in Fujian Province. What that tells us is that despite geographic distances, these old-varietal tea bushes appear to have shared characteristics and complexities. Further, they share a richness and vigor that have been bred out of today’s commercial tea bushes. Part of the reason for the addition of the budsets in this combination is to accentuate this aromatic style. There is complexity to spare in the aromatic quality of this tea: the allure of the earth-floor combines with mushroom and clean, dry moss to gently tease the palate.

After the leaf is steeped, the aroma adjusts and clarifies, bringing in the softly spicy notes found in the yan cha Rou Gui – the aroma that tea enthusiasts call “tea cinnamon”. This is a dry, slightly minty ‘returning flavor’ that is quite pleasant as it lingers on the palate. It is this ‘dry’ component of flavor that we find particularly enticing in the Purple Varietals, and a significant reason why these teas are so unique.

This is an extremely unusual tea. Following considerable tasting, TeaTrekker contracted for several very specific, premium-quality plucks of this year’s Purple Varietal tea. We are the only source for this particular selection due to the fact that we blend it here in the store and do not wholesale our tea.

It will improve with age for many months and should drink well through 2022.