Please purchase this delicious new arrival…I am afraid that if you do not that I will drink all of the fairly large quantity that I sourced, and I really do not want to do that!!!
This simple, ordinary type of Hei Cha has been made for hundreds of years. Manufacture of this type of ‘dark tea’ includes wet pile fermentation and wood firing. Fu Zhuan can be compressed by machine, or artisanally in a more traditional press, in which case the leaf will not be as tightly packed and there is a greater chance of the golden flowers surviving in the leaf.
Our Fu Zhuan is made by the Bai Sha Xi Tea Company, the oldest hei cha factory in Hunnan Province (est. 1940). Hunnan Province is the origin of both Fu Zhuan and also many types of the hei cha that are manufactured in eastern China. Mao Zedong was a native of Hunan Province, and a tea enthusiast, and this was among his most favorite types of tea.
The taste is full-bodied and sweet, with flavor-notes of dried fruit, shitake, and sweet grass. In modern culinary terminology, this tea has an abundance of umami.
Fu Zhuan was originally made to be a border tea sent to Tibet and Mongolia partially via the Tea Horse Route. At destination, locals drank copious amounts of it to temper their fatty, meat-rich diets.
Fu Zhuan is made after the premium Spring Tea Season, during the heart of the major tea season, during the hottest days of the summer. This accelerates the fermentation, and meant that it could still be transported before winter set in.
The tea liquor is a beautiful orange/amber color.
This Fu Zhuan tea is really something special, and one of the most interesting teas that we sell. That is a pretty big statement considering the wealth of fantastic teas that we feature.
As Pu-erh is an historic, specialty tea made in areas of Yunnan Province, Fu Zhuan is an historic tea made in certain areas of Hunan Province. Our Fu Zhuan is made by a smart, experienced, lady teamaker with a very fine hand and a great understanding of how to craft this unique, regional specialty.
The flavor of this Fu Zhuan is very nuanced and unlike anything else we have ever tasted. On first sip it has a clear, slightly resinous pine forest aroma and flavor. Subsequent drinking reveals a taste of dark red cherries (like Morello) and cherry stones and a slight suspicion of cinnamon & star anise. All of this is carried on an undercurrent base of syrupy rock sugar.
Fu Zhuan is dried over a low pine wood fire, so the aroma of the tea has hints of pine and leather mixed with the clean smell of the forest floor after a cool spring rain. Fu Zhuan wears only a light smoking, so it is more similar to Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong than to the bold, heavily smoked Western-export style of Lapsang Souchong.
Unlike shou Pu-erh, Fu Zhuan is only lightly fermented so it has very little fermented taste – in fact, with eyes closed, I think that some Fu Zhuan smells reminiscent of some fresh, clean and subtle sheng Pu-erh or certain Maocha. In fact, Fu Zhuan is rather sweet and mild with the extra bonus of a little pine wood smoke to complete the seduction.
The leaf is thick and mixed russet browns in color and is irregular in appearance. After firing, the leaf is packed in large bamboo baskets and stored in aging rooms with natural ventilation that allows the tea to continue to breathe and change. When the tea is ready to sell, it is repacked into smaller bamboo baskets or into paper boxes. Our Fu Zhuan was packed into 1 or 2 kilo bricks, depending on the preference of the tea producer. We break up these bricks as we receive orders for the loose leaf tea.
The appearance of the tea is reminiscent to that of loose-leaf shou Pu-erh: brown and irregular in size and shape and includes numerous small stems, the size of which in the tea trade are known as ‘twig‘. Fu Zhuan is not a fancy, hand-shaped leaf, but something simpler that is representative of China’s great body of regional teas that are unique, charismatic, and delicious.
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