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Yunnan Old Arbor Large-Leaf Feng Qing Black


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Black Tea


Old Arbor Large-Leaf Feng Qing Black


Manufacture: traditional hong cha manufacture
Oxidation: fully-oxidized


Appearance: ultra-long-length leaf, open-twisted, spiral shape with significant tip
Flavor: soft, toasty, slightly woody, rich flavor
Aroma: fresh aroma with hints of biscuit and morning toast
Liquor: golden amber-colored liquor edged with copper

Yunnan Province, China
(Menghai County)

2020 Late Spring

Use 1-2 Tablespoon(s) (2-3 grams) per 6 oz water
Steep 1 infusion at 3-5 minutes or 2 infusions at 2-4 mins each
Water temperature should be 190°F-200°F

Please note that this is an extremely large-leafed tea. To use the traditional 2-3 grams it is necessary to measure at least two Tablespoons of leaf if measuring by volume.

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.

Old Arbor Large-Leaf Feng Qing Black

We have quite a few Yunnan dian hongs in our selection, and this tea from that sub-group has some of the longest leaf of any of these extraordinary teas. If you haven’t been drinking these delicious, re-steepable, and easy-to-prepare teas, then you owe it to yourself to try them, and this could be the one to start with! This tea is made from large-sized, fresh leaf that is hand-plucked by villagers from the ethnic minorities that live in the high mountain forest areas. This tea was picked in late spring when the leaves had a full, rich taste and a concentrated aromatic. Tea from this type of old growth tea leaf material is known as De Ye Zhong.

From one of our favorite locations for both old-growth and modern plantings of hearty, flavorful tea bushes (Menghai), the leaf that is manufactured by the artisans who make this tea for us is simply exquisite. Whether you drink this tea as we do, neat, or choose to add whitener and/or sweetener to your cup, the flavor of this tea is deep, satisfying, full-bodied, and, well, just delicious!

There is a definite taste of caramel, although it is light, more like biscuit or toast; and also a clean style to the elegant large leaves. The aroma is clean, pure, and straightforward, like the hills on which the tea bushes thrive. It is easy to imagine these old growth tea trees that have mutated in the forests over time, making these trees distinctly different from other tea trees found in patches of forest in these mountains. It is a classic example of a tea that shows much promise in its dry leaf form and then fulfills that promise and more in the cup. It will improve with a little age and then be shelf stable. It can likely be drunk for years, if kept reasonably airtight, and may even become a ‘vintage’ tea – one that is special to drink many years down the road.

This is not a malty or ‘busy’ tea, like an Assam or complex Ceylon growth. But we love its straightforward elegance and simplicity, and it meets the demand for pure flavor and focused taste. Being a large, long leaf, Old-Growth Black is very user-friendly to steep.

Opening with the fruity, nutty, and cocoa-like aroma of the dried leaf, the tea liquor then yields a slightly spicy, chocolate aroma in the cup that is rich and appealing. The flavor of this ‘lot’ is a bit ‘bright’, actually, which is quite unusual for a Yunnan black.

The large leaf has plentiful tip present that is equal in length to the pluck – indicating the maturity of the trees from which the leaf materials were plucked. The long, elegant, twisted leaf has the beautiful dark brown color typical of Yunnan dian hong. The russet-colored tips provide a bright counterpoint to the dominant percentage of darker leaf.

The flavor of the steeped liquor is not the usual rich and hearty style of premium Yunnan dian hong. This tea has undertones of sweetness that suggest ripe melon and roasted nuts. There is a hint of grassiness in the top nose that lightens the inherent richness of the leaf and gives this tea some hay-like and bright qualities usually associated with a fine Chinese green tea.

It is almost impossible to over steep these leaves. We think that you could put on a cup or pot of this tea and forget about it for a half hour and it would still be exquisite when you remembered it. The one thing that is required of the tea preparer is that the proper amount of tea leaf by weight must be used. This means that if the measure is being made by volume measure (or by eye), then 3-4 times the expected amount of leaf must be used. This leaf is very lofty and does not weigh much, leaf by leaf. And it does not pack down in the scoop. However, it does re-steep two or three times (or more?!) depending on your taste requirements.

Old-Growth Black does not have a lot of ‘returning flavour’ (that phenomenon by which you taste the flavor of the tea hanging on the palate for varying lengths of time after swallowing). It is more of a clean break: swallow and it is gone. We call that a ‘clean’ taste, and it can be a preferred tendency, especially in a ‘crisp-style’ tea!

If you tend to short-steep your tea (2-3 mins) try adding more hot water to that leaf and steep for an additional 5-7 minutes. This second steeping may surprise you!