Yunnan Ning'er County Golden Simao

Yunnan Ning’er County Golden Simao


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Black Tea


Yunnan Ning’er County Golden Simao


Manufacture: traditional dian hong manufacture
Oxidation: fully-oxidized


Appearance: long, softly-curled black leaf with ample golden tips, with a slight twist
Flavor: fairly strong & sweet, yet soft Yunnan dian hong flavor
Aroma: bold, warm, richly-floral aromatics
Liquor: amber-colored liquor with a deep hue


Ning’er Hani and Yi Autonomous County
Pu-erh ( Simao ) Prefecture
Yunnan Province, China

2020 Spring Pluck
(mid-March to early-April)


China Spring Tea:


Some early harvest Chinese spring green and black teas are sold by seasonal designations indicating the time in the spring that the tea was harvested and manufactured. The earlier the tea is plucked the smaller the yield of a tea will be for the year (and the more expensive the tea will be.)


Early spring plucked teas:


Pre-Qing Ming tea: 1st Spring Harvesting Season from end of March to before April 5th
An exception to this dating are the spring teas from Yunnan which, because of the warm, semi-tropical weather in that region in spring, can be harvested as early as the end of February.

Pre-Qing Ming teas are the first teas plucked each new spring season. Depending on the location and altitude in each tea-producing region, leaf plucking can begin as early as the middle week of March and continue until April 5th.

Pre-Qing Ming teas command the highest prices because the demand for these teas outpaces the supply each year. This is especially true for the Famous Teas such as Long Ding and Longjing, and certain black teas such as Jin Jin Mai, some Keemuns and Yunnans. The buying fever for these teas is high in China as well as in the West


Yu Qian (Before the Rain) tea: 2nd Spring Harvesting Season from April 5th to April 20thte spring plucked teas:


Gu Yu tea: 3rd Spring Harvesting Season from April 21st to May 6th
Li Xia tea: 4th Spring Harvesting Season from May 7th until May 21st

Autumnal Pluck:  In some locations, in some years, certain sub-varieties of tea bushes will produce an autumn flush, which will usually be quite concentrated in flavor, as it reflects the growth and maturity that the plants have experienced during that year’s growing season. Several locations that are noted for their Autumnal Flush of black tea are Yunnan Province, China; Darjeeling, India; Nilgiri, India; and for oolong Fujian Province, China; and Taiwan.

Use 1.5 Tablespoons (2-3 grams) per 6 oz water
Steep 1-3 infusions at 3 – 5 minutes
Water temperature should be 190°F-200°F


This leaf can definitely be re-steeped and yield delicious flavor over many cups of tea.

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 – Camelis 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.

This special dian hong black tea is one that is both grown and manufactured in the Ning’er County area of ‘Simao’, a famous geographical tea region, especially for the manufacture of Pu-erh. The tea plants grown there are from an old tea varietal that has only been grown in this area (for black tea production) for a few decades.

Ning’er County Golden Simao is a mao feng pluck (a bud and two leaves). Having been plucked from old tea trees, the overall large and beautiful size of these tea leaves shows the bushes’ direct lineage to the pure assamica tea plants that have such a wonderful history in Yunnan Province.

The tea is sweet with honey, sweet dried cherry and the deep floral notes of orchid and magnolia. There is a hint of chocolatey-ness in the background flavor. It is an aromatic tea, especially when smelling the re-hydrated leaves after the first steeping. ‘Four red fruit’ and dried fruit characteristics predominate, as well as its rich and creamy, mouth-filling sweetness.

We sourced this leaf in the late autumn of 2020, and have been ‘resting’ it carefully ever since. We knew that we could sell it immediately and that it would be wonderful, but also that it would benefit from the traditional waiting period that so many Yunnan black teas really need in order to show well. This exquisite leaf will drink well now, and for many years to come, as we know from experience that this year’s tea is a ‘vintage’ manufacture. Put some aside and you will be treated when you open up your container in several years and your 2020 Ning’er County Golden Simao will have mellowed into an incredible ‘Rested & Aged’ tea. We have already given this leaf a jump start for you!

We love Yunnan black teas, especially teas from this area. This county was formerly named Pu’er. However, when the city of Simao changed its name back to Pu’er City in 2007, the county’s name was changed to Ning’er for clarity. The moniker ‘Simao’ is still used as a region designation for both black tea and Pu-erh, because this is one of the most historically important regions in Yunnan Province for tea production.

With only minimal ‘resting under its belt at this time, Ning’er County Golden Simao has yet to fully develop the cascade of buttery, caramel flavor notes (that it will have in abundance after another year of careful storage!). With just a hint of raisin and deep florals showing at this still-youthful stage of its development, there is much to look forward to with this leaf. Buy as much as you can and put it in a safe, stable environment and you will have great tea for many years.

Even most ‘tea-resistant’ coffee-drinkers love this tea – and we know that it is just fine with a little milk, too.

But for truest flavor, drink it as the several local peoples in Yunnan do – plain. It is smooth (no astringency) and really quite full and rich in mouth-feel. It is most delicious and enjoyable in the cup now … or do as we have done and set some aside for further resting and improvement.