5. June 2017

Black Tea

 Black Tea

Fresh tea leaves are green, but how black tea turns black. Black tea 红茶 [hóng chá] is 80-90% or higher fermented tea. Freshly picked tea leaves are put in withering troughs to allow them to wither, and thus lose their moisture. After this, leaves  should be rolled and diced or shaped according to needs, and then fermented. During the process, tea polyphenols content drops significantly more than 90%, the chlorophyll in fresh leaves oxidize by the enzymatic reactions of tea polyphenol, degrade and form red polyphenols, such as theaflavins and thearubigins. Theaflavins are yellowish- orange in color and thearubigins are reddish. Both can  dissolve into tea liquid. The other color compounds that do not disolve in tea liquid are brownish in color giving the characteristic black color of tea leaves. Aromatic compounds increase from 50 to 300 kinds, that makes tea taste sweet and mellow, and have high fragrances.

There are many sorts of black teas in China, e.g. Yi Hong from Hubei province, Xiang Hong from Hunan, Dian Hong from Yunnan, Jin Jun Mei and Lapsang Souchong from Fujian Wuyi, Qi Hong and Huo Hong from Anhui, Su Hong from Jiangsu Yixing, Ning Hong from Jiangxi, Yue Hong from Zhejiang, Chuan Hong from Sichuan, and Ying Hong from Guangdong.


Wudang Daoist Hong

Wudang Daoist Hong/Black  武当道红 [wǔ dāng dào hóng] is one kind of Hubei black tea, as well as Wudang Immortal Hong and Yi Hong,   its fresh 1 shoot 2 leaf are harvested from the organic tea fields at an altitude of above 800 metres in the Wudang mountain (Hubei Province) after the Grain Rain Festival, and then processed: wither, roll, fermente and dry.



Wudang Immortal Hong

Different from Wudang Daoist Hong, Wudang Immortal Hong  武当仙红 [wǔ dāng xiān hóng] use fresh shoots, which are harvested before the Grain and Rain festival.



Yi Hong, Lichuan Hong

Yi Hong 宜红 [yí hóng] started in the middle of the nineteenth century, Yi Chang 宜昌 in the Hubei  Province is one of the oldest tea producing areas,  Lu Yu (the saint of tea)’s of the Tang Dynasty had classified it as the top  of Shannan tea field.  Dry tea is tight and thin with golden hair, tea liquid has high and long- lasting fragrances,  fresh and mellow tastes, a bright reddish color and a phenomenon of turbidity after getting cold.  In general, Yi Hong should be used purple-clay or porcelain teawares to brew 2- 3 rounds at 90-95℃ for 2- 3 mins (tea:water 1:18).

Lichuan black tea is the abbreviation of Lichuan Gongfu black tea, which is distributed in Lichuan, Enshi Prefecture, Hubei Province. Its tea raw materials are from Zhongcha 108, Echa 1, Echa 10, Zhuye and local population species, which has rich contents and high enzyme activity, which is suitable for the production of black tea. Lichuan has a long history of tea production, in the middle of the 19th century, Lichuan tea farmers began to process and export black tea for British compradors. In 1876, with Yichang listed as a foreign trade port, Lichuan Maoba became one of the core production areas of Yihong (short for Hubei black tea) Gongfu black tea. Lichuan black tea has a production and processing history of more than 170 years.

Lichuan has a subtropical continental monsoon climate. Because of the ups and downs of mountains, deep gullies, different altitudes and obvious climate differences, it is a typical mountain climate. There is no intense heat in summer, cloudy and foggy, less sunshine, abundant rainfall and humid air. The special geographical environment and climate of the community have brought unique advantages to the cultivation of Lichuan black tea and the development of ecological environment. In addition, the local karst landform is remarkable, and karst caves and underground rivers are typical. Enshi, Hubei Province, is the selenium capital of the world, the soil is rich in selenium. Enshi tea is a heaven given selenium rich tea, which is loved by tea people, especially by Japanese. Enshi has beautiful scenery, fresh air, and the reserves of selenium ore rank first in the world. The average content of selenium in tea is 1.068ppm. It is the best way for human body to supplement organic selenium by drinking 500ml selenium enriched tea daily for a long time. It has the effects of anti-cancer, anti hypertension and anti-aging.



Wudang Hong Fu Brick

Wudang Hong Fu Brick 武当红茯砖  [wǔ dāng hóng fú zhuān] is used  wudang daoist black tea as crude materials, some are also added Shinyleaf Yellowhorn 文冠果 [wén guān guǒ] in order to achieve more fragrances and more effective   at reducing  blood pressure. After steamed at a high temperature, tea leaves should be pressed into different molds and kept for 2 hours to cool naturally. Tea bricks are taken out from molds and put into constant-temperature chambers to  Fahua 发花 [fā huā] produce “golen flower” Eurotium Cristatum 冠突散囊菌.



Dian Hong

Dian hong is a big-leaf tea variety in Fengqing and Lincang at Yunnan province, also called “Yunnan Gongfu Black Tea”, usually made into a Baota-pagoda shape, this shape blooms like a flower after infusing into water. It is used as a relatively high end gourmet black tea and is sometimes used in various tea blends. The main difference between Dian hong and other Chinese black teas is the amount of fine leaf buds, or “golden tips,” present in the dried tea. Finer Dian hong produces a brew that is brassy golden orange in colour with a sweet, gentle aroma and no astringency. Cheaper varieties of Dian hong produce a darker brownish brew that can be very bitter.



Mandarian Peel Dian Hong

Gan Hong- Mandarin peel black tea is made of peels from Xinhui of Guangdong Province and Dian Hong from Yunnan Province, through special producing processes. On its soup surface is usually covered by oil droplets, its fruity and aging aroma is rich, and its flavor is smooth and mellow with a sweet aftertaste.


Zi Juan and Dianmian Hong

Zi Juan tea 紫鹃茶 [zǐ juān] is a variant of Pu’er tea varieties, buds, leaves and stems are purple – Zi, dry tea and tea soup are also purple. Leaves could be produced raw Pu’er or black tea.

Dianmian teaCamellia irrawadiensis, is a plant of Theaceae Camellia. Dianmian Tea plants are distributed in Yunnan, China and Myanmar, mainly distributed in Southwest Yunnan and the upper reaches of Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. The buds and leaves can be made into tea for drinking.



Lapsang Souchong, Osmanthus Souchong

This special type of black tea from Fujian province is very distinctive with its exotic smoky flavor. After plucking, tea leaves are withered over cypress or pine wood fires. After rolling, they are placed into wooden barrels until they begin to emit their own pleasant aroma. As a final step they are placed in bamboo baskets and hung on racks over smoky pine fires where they dry and absorb a smoke essence.

Finished tea leaves are thick and black, when steeped in hot water, producing a bright reddish-orange tealiquid. In recent years, Lapsang-Souchong has begun to grow in popularity and become the favorite tea of many who also appreciate single-malt Scotch whisky and fine cigars. It was once known as a man’s tea, but more and more women are drinking it as well.

Lapsang-Souchong tastes particularly good with salty and spicy dishes and also with cheese. Many tea lovers report that they enjoy drinking it outdoors, especially after any intense activity. You may also wish to try adding a pinch of Lapsang-Souchong to a cup of English Breakfast blend to add a whole new layer of flavor notes to savor.

Osmanthus Souchong black tea is a traditional export product of Fujian, the hometown of Souchong. It is mainly sold to Hong Kong, Macao, Southeast Asia and Western Europe. Osmanthus blend is mainly prepared from summer and autumn tea of that year or the next year.



Jin Jun Mei

Jin Jun Mei 金骏眉 is made of tea bud tips which are picked before Tomb-sweeping Day, the rare and primitive wild mountain tea breed is in the National Natural Conservation Area of Wuyi Mountain, with an attitude of 1500 to 1800 meters. Huang Ya means yellow sprouts, is the top-quality Jin Jun Mei and is famous of its rich golden-yellow hair, tender sprouts and high fragrances.

A skilled female worker can only pick about 2000 pieces of tea bud tips per day, and 500 grams of Jinjunmei need tens of thousands of pieces of tea bud tips to produce. Processed Jinjunmei has to adopt the traditional hand-made Lapsang Souchong processing technology, the following characteristics: tight, slender and gold-yellow-black tea leaves; golden tea liquid; mixed aromas of fruit, flower, honey, and potato. It is a rare top-level treasure.



Eight Immortals

Eight Immortals 八仙 [bā xiān] tea is from the Zhao’an Town of Fujian Province, a varity of small tea trees was transplanted bred in 1968, leaves are used to make green, oolong and black tea, because of its speical high fragrance and a strong honey after taste, Eight Immortals black tea has been accepted recently.


Jiuqu Red Plum

Jiuqu Red Plum black tea originated from Jiuqu in Wuyi Mountain, the farmers from Northern Fujian and southern Zhejiang moved northward and settled down in Zhejiang Dawu mountains. They cultivated grain and tea to make a living, it has promoted the production of local farmers. Some of the farmers from the south are good at making black tea, which is purchased by Hangzhou tea company and tea brand, and has been followed up to now. Whether the picking time of Jiuqu red plum is suitable or not is related to the quality of tea. The quality of tea is the best before and after Grain Rain festival, and the second is before and after Qingming. The picking standard of Jiuqu red plum requires one bud and two leaves to make, the key is fermentation and drying. Jiuqu red plum is called Jiuqu red plum because its color is red, fragrance is clear, and it tastes sweet and mellow. It is the only one black tea among 28 famous teas in Zhejiang Province, it has a history of nearly 200 years and became famous more than 100 years ago. As early as 1886, it won the gold medal of Panama world expo, but its reputation is inferior to that of West Lake Longjing tea. Its quality is comparable to that of Qimen black tea in Anhui Province.


Keemun Hong

Qimen black tea is called Qihong for short. Its raw materials are made of local middle and middle aged tea tree “Zhu Ye” (also known as Qimen species). The national tea varieties in Huang Mountian area are cultivated in all tea areas in China, was first introduced to India and other countries by the British in 1848, and then introduced to foreign countries many times. Now it is planted in Georgia, Russia, India, Japan, Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and East African countries. Qimen black tea is a famous tea in Chinese history and a famous black tea boutique. It was created by Anhui tea farmers in Guangxu Qing Dynasty period, but the earliest historical records can be traced back to the tea classics of Lu Yu in Tang Dynasty.

Before the reign of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty, Qimen only produced green tea, not black tea. Around 1875, Hu Yuanlong, a Qimen personage, drew lessons from the black tea making methods of other provinces, and prepared to build a tea factory. He used his own fresh tea leaves and asked master Shu Jili of Ningzhou to produce black tea according to Ninghong’s experience. Later, it was introduced into Beijing by Tongshengxiang tea house, and achieved success in the market. With the birth of Qimen black tea founded by Hu Yuanlong, Jiande black tea, Qimen black tea and Ningzhou black tea have long been competitors in the export market due to the similar quality of tea.

Qihong tea growing area has superior natural conditions, many mountain trees, warm and humid, deep soil layer, abundant rainfall, and many clouds, which is very suitable for the growth of tea. In addition, the main variety of local tea, Zhu Ye, has rich contents and high enzyme activity, which is very suitable for the production of Gongfu black tea. The fragrance of tea is persistent, like fruit and orchid, which is called “Qimen fragrance” in the international tea market. The color of tea soup and wet leaf is red and bright, and the taste is fresh and mellow. Even if it is mixed with milk and sugar, its fragrance is not reduced, but more fragrant.


Chuan Hong

Chuanhong, Sichuan Kungfu black tea is characterized by early production season, tender picking and meticulous workmanship. Sichuan black tea is famous for its early production season, tender picking, meticulous workmanship, tight and fine strips, dark color, fresh aroma, mellow taste, red and bright soup color, and even red leaves. It won high praise in London and other international markets in the 1950s, and won the world food Gold Award in 1985. Good reputation, it is selling well in Europe, the United States, Australia, Africa…


Tibetan Hong

The Tibetan tea produced mostly refers to the tea sold to Tibet. It is generally produced in Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan and other places, not in Tibet. “The most authentic Tibetan tea” of Linchi is well-known, it is not only produced in Nyingchi, but also sold in Tibet. Because of its high quality and mellow taste, the price of Linzhi’s Tibetan tea is more than ten times higher than that of other provinces. Even so, the output is often in short supply. Besides the traditional production of dark tea, there are also a lot of Tibetan black tea and green tea.


Purple Bamboo Shoot Hong

Guzhu purple bamboo tea was consecutively paid tribute for more than 80 years in the Tang Dynasty. Huichangzhong (AD 843) paid tribute to nearly 20000 Jin (10000 kg) of purple bamboo tea. The imperial court erected a stone tablet on the tribute amount. From the Tang Dynasty through the song and Yuan Dynasties to the end of the Ming Dynasty, it paid tribute continuously for 876 years. As a tribute tea, Guzhu purple bamboo shoot tea has the longest history of tribute, the largest scale of production, the largest quantity, the best quality and the longest tribute time. Guzhu purple bamboo shoot tea is the most tribute tea in China.

Purple bamboo tea began trial production in 1979. In 1982, it took part in the national famous tea evaluation for the first time, and won the unanimous praise of experts and famous teachers, and won the national famous tea certificate. Guzhu mountain, where purple shoot tea grows, is a low hill with gentle slope, rich vegetation, thick soil layer and high content of organic matter, which is suitable for tea growth. Guzhu mountain is in a good microclimate condition, which breeds a thousand year old purple bamboo shoots tea. Purple bamboo shoots tea has excellent endoplasm and unique fragrance. The characteristics of purple bamboo shoots tea are as follows: tender bud leaves, purple bud color, bamboo shoots shape, tightly wrapped, boiling water brewing, fragrant, clear soup color, and orchid shape after tea brewing.


Yangloudong Mi Brick Hong

Mi – Rice brick is mostly black brick tea made from black tea slice and powder by steaming and then pressing. The raw material of tea is as small as rice, so it is called rice brick. Rice brick tea finished product appearance is very beautiful, angular, the surface pattern is clear and beautiful, the color of brick surface is dark, after brewing, the soup color is red, the aroma is pure, and the taste is very mellow. In the 1870s, a tea factory was set up in Hankou. Rice bricks were mechanically pressed and transported to Russia for re export. 1888 was the heyday of rice brick production and export. At present, it is mainly sold in Xinjiang and North China, and some of it is exported to Russia, Mongolia and Europe. Because of the beautiful shape of rice brick, some Westerners put rice brick on the frame in the living room at home and display it as a handicraft.