Rested Yunnan Wa Tribal Wild Arbor Black Tea

Yunnan Wa Tribal Wild Arbor Tea


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Black Tea


Yunnan Wa Tribal Wild Arbor Tea


Manufacture: traditional hong cha manufacture
Oxidation: fully-oxidized


Appearance: long, thin, needle-shaped, somewhat thick leaves, lots of added tip for sweetness
Flavor: this tea has many of the qualities that we love in Yunnan teas – a smooth, full-bodied style with lots of caramel, dried fruit and honey. A little hint of peppery-ness & charcoal firing adds a unique taste to the representation of its terroir.
Aroma: clean and abundant, typical of leaf material from Yunnan semi-wild tea trees in high-altitude locations
Liquor: reddish-amber color


Cangyuan Wa Autonomous County
Lincang Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China

2020 Spring Pluck
(May, June)

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 found that this tea (and many other well-made Chinese dian hong) can be successfully re-steeped at least one additional time. This tea gave us about 80% of the original flavor on a re-steep, which is a pretty high percentage for hong cha.

I also use my ‘secret’ technique for black tea (and some other amenable teas) for this harvest of Wa Tribal: steep once for two mins; then pour that off and keep warm. Add a second full measure of fresh steeping water to the already-steeped leaf and steep for four mins. Mix both together, heat a tad, if needed, and drink all together.

rjh (July 2021)

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.

This is a stunning tea, and one of the finest teas from Yunnan that we offer! We recently needed to decide whether to change to the 2019 or the 2020 harvest, as the 2018 has finally run out. During our tastings, we decided on the 2020, as it has more clarity and depth of flavor, so that those of you who rest or age it further will have a more focused tea to start with and then (if you are able to resist drinking it!) in a year or two this will be as exceptional as the 2018 has been these last two years…

This new batch is significantly larger in bulk than the 2018 has been, so be sure to adjust your measure as necessary (this larger-size bud/leaf is quite helpful for re-steeping). You will notice that there is some ‘fine pluck‘ harvested into the batch as well as the generally very large budsets, so that the steeping ‘evens out‘ over the course of the multiple steepings that this leaf needs to show off its incredible flavor. (see ‘Steeping Instructions’ in the accordion)

Wa Tribal 2020 is comprised of  gorgeously long, needle-shaped leaf tea that is plucked from old Camellia sinensis assamica tea trees on the ancestral lands of the Wa tribal people. A little charcoal-fire in the taste from the finish firing adds to the exotic nature of this tea. If one were on a desert island and could only have one tea….you know the rest!

This tea has many of the qualities that we love in Yunnan teas – a smooth, full-bodied style with lots of caramel, dried fruit and honey. A little hint of peppery-ness adds a unique taste to the representation of terroir in this tea. The aroma is clean and abundant, typical of leaf material from Yunnan’s semi-wild tea trees in high-altitude locations.

This rich, isolated area shares a western border with Burma and due to its remote location the area has large tracts of undisturbed tea forests and semi-wild old tea trees that are protected by the Wa people.

The Wa, along with many other tribal groups in Yunnan, practice a type of animist religion and respect the spirits of the water, mountains, forest and tea trees. They believe that all of these spirits protect them from the forces of the modern world, and in turn, they revere and protect the trees. Tea for them is a deeply spiritual drink and it is considered more medicine than a ‘wake-me-up’ or ‘pick-me-up’ beverage.

This tea has been processed the same way that the Wa have processed tea for the last 100 years – picked, quickly pan-dried to stop the enzymatic action, hand-rolled for a bit of shaping, wilted and oxidized for two days and then finish-fired and dried. No modern machinery is used to break up the lovely leaves. The fresh leaf from these tea trees is thick and large and is used to make both mao cha for Pu-erh and dian hong such as this excellent tea.

With the exception of the wilting & oxidizing step, the leaf for either of these manufactures undergoes the same treatment. This method of processing creates delicious tea in both types of manufacture. Drink this tea as the local Wa people who oversee the welfare of these tea forests and the production of these splendid teas do: plain and natural.