Yunnan Yi Mei Ren black tea

Yunnan Yi Mei Ren


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Black Tea


Yi Mei Ren



Manufacture: traditional hong cha manufacture
Oxidation: fully-oxidized


Appearance: thick, dark, nicely twisted artisan-made leaf, very little tip
Flavor: spicy & brisk with a cinnamon, chocolate-caramel flavor we love. There is a big, well-rounded character to this tea that hints of dates and chocolate
Aroma: cinnamon-mint tea aroma (reminiscent of a fine Rou Gui)
Liquor: distinctly golden-copper in color with a lovely, gem-like clarity


Wuliang Shan, Jingdong County
Pu-erh (Simao) Prefecture
Yunnan Province, China

2020 Pre-Qing Ming
1st Spring Harvesting Season
(mid-March until April 5th)


China Spring Green Tea:


Chinese spring green teas are categorized by four seasonal designations indicating which time in the spring the tea was picked and manufactured. The earlier the tea is plucked the smaller the yield of that tea will be and the more expensive the tea will be. The earliest plucked teas are the most desirable for sweetness and delicacy, and the fever for these teas is high in China as well as in the West. Chinese spring green teas are only plucked once a year in their designated harvesting seasons.


– The EARLY SPRING PLUCKED TEAS (2 subcategories):


Pre-Qing Ming:
1st Spring Harvesting Season from end of March to before April 5th.


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 spring. This is especially true for Famous Teas such as Gan Lu, Long Ding, Longjing, Lu Shan, Tai Ping Hou Kui, and Zhu Ye Qing.


Yu Qian /Before the Rain:
2nd Spring Harvesting Season from April 5th until April 20th


– The LATE SPRING PLUCKED TEAS (2 subcategories):


Gu Yu tea:
3rd Spring Harvesting Season from April 21st until May 6th


Li Xia tea:
4th Spring Harvesting Season from May 7th until May 21st


img-more_seasonal Seasonal Teas Explained

Use 2-3 Tablespoons (2-3 grams) per 6 oz water
Steep 1 infusion at 4-5 minutes
Water temperature should be 190°F-200°F


Steeping Tip:


Yi Mei Ren is a large leaf tea, so it is important to use a large quantity of this leaf in order to be using the proper weight of leaf. Remember, the larger the leaf the MORE one needs to use to obtain a proper weight. Re-steeping is necessary, so be sure to add more freshly-boiled, but then cooled water, several times to coax all the wonderful flavor out of these beautiful and complex leaves. This leaf is rich in amino acids, so if you use this tea for making iced tea it will cloud heavily when cool.

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.

If you enjoy a China tea bush varietal black tea that has elements of oolong style and a brisk, spicy finish, this tea is for you. One of the most unusual black teas in our current repertoire, this is for the enthusiast who wants to experience what tea artisans are experimenting with in one of the homelands of premium tea – Yunnan Province, China.

Wuliang Shan in Jingdong County, where this tea is from,  is a famous tea area in southwestern China. Heritage sub-varietal tea bushes thrive in remote tea gardens. Carefully-tended by the Yi minority people who live on this mountain and in the surrounding region, this leaf is quite precious, and they take great pride in maintaining their traditional tea plantings so that this and other unique teas can continue to be manufactured.

Yi Mei Ren is made with sub-varieties of Yunnan leaf that are larger in size than the tea bushes planted in modern tea gardens– similar to the leaf used for Pu-erh or that would be used for oolong if there was a history of oolong manufacture in this region. By incorporating some of the techniques used for oolong manufacture (such as the rattling steps between oxidation stages), the leaf takes on a distinct style of oxidation that is slightly different than classic black tea oxidation. This fabrication technique brings out the Rou Gui-style flavor components of cinnamon, dry cocoa, and spice.

We love the the big, well-rounded, character of this tea, with its slightly sweet flavor that hints of dates and chocolate. It has body and absolutely no astringency, a winning combination for those who drink their tea plain. The color of the liquor is distinctly golden-amber in color with a lovely, gem-like clarity.  As we re-steeped this tea, we detected a delicate hint of mint in the aroma of the leaf.

If you are enthusiastic about aged tea (black, oolong or Pu-erh) then you would be wise to purchase a quantity of this leaf and put it aside to develop for several years or more. It will be an investment that you will enjoy drinking later.