Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong #2 is made in one of the tea garden areas of the Wu Yi Shan, a beautiful mountain/cliffs/river/ natural wonderland in northern Fujian Province, China.
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong tea is made into two distinct versions, each with a unique personality. In common, both of these versions are classified as black tea. Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong means something like: mountain tea made from the small bush.
Our Zheng Shan #1 is the traditional, lightly-smoked tea that the popular medium-to-highly-smoked ‘Lapsang Souchong‘ derived from.
Zheng Shan #2 is not smoked at all, and is a significantly more elegant and stylized tea from the same gardens, in Tong Mu, but with a different personality entirely. We have both versions of this tea at the moment. Our supply of Zheng Shan #2 is relatively small, so it often runs out by mid summer.
Both styles of this tea are sold under the same name, so it is important to know which you are purchasing when you are buying this tea. For 2021 we also have a ‘first cousin’ tea to this – the Xiao Chi Gan, which is also a Tong Mu-manufactured hong cha that historically was quite important as well as these two Zheng Shan teas.
Zheng Shan #2 could easily be called a Wu Yi Shan black tea because it is not smoked and there are many variations of this un-smoked tea made from different tea bush cultivars within this famous tea-harvesting region. Our Wai Shan Lao Shu is certainly in this general family of tea.
Zheng Shan #2 is quite lovely and distinctive, and full-bodied in the cup. It has overtones of black fig, red plums, and other dark, ripe fruity flavors in its taste. It is not floral or sweet but has a slightly dry and ‘stoney’ aroma. Like many well-made premium Chinese black teas, this tea is whole leaf, long on flavor, smooth on the palate, and big in the cup. One can add milk or not, but to enjoy it as the Chinese would, it is best drunk plain.
The Wu Yi Shan area of northern Fujian is home to several lovely and historic black teas such as this tea and also the famous yan cha strip-style oolongs. The soil conditions in the Wu Yi Shan are not rich and nurturing by standard definition, but tea bushes have clung on to their existence here for several hundred years. These tea bushes are clearly happy with the thin, rock-shard composition of the soil and have incorporated the taste of the soil into the teas they produce, giving the teas ‘backbone’ and a steely nature.
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong #2 was perhaps the original China black tea sold to and known as bohea to early Western traders coming to China to purchase tea. The smoked version of this tea came later, and the rest, as they say, is history.