For the month of May, White2Tea's Teaclub sent out the coolest thing, a 'buffet' of six red teas from Fujian! I love Fujian reds, almost as much as I love my Yunnan reds and Taiwanese reds (ok I probably love all three equally if we are going to be completely honest, I am a Hong Cha fiend!) So I thought I would give a brief look at each of the teas sent in this fantastic sampler.
Little Red- First I have to say that I am rather miffed that W2T doesn't sell this one, because man is it good! I could see it becoming a daily drinker for me for sure, but alas, no dice. These pretty little leaves are made from the Cai Cha varietal, which is pretty popular in Wuyi, used to make Jin Jun Mei, Lapsang Souchong, and Tan Yang Gongfu, so it gets around. The aroma of the dry tea is nom...om nom nom. Strong notes of chocolate, and you know, the info sheet wasn't lying when it said cumin, and that is pretty awesome. There is also a creamy undertone and a slightly tangy dried fruit note as well.
Brewing it up, the aroma of the tea is immensely rich, heavy notes of chocolate and molasses with notes of saffron and malt. The aroma and taste remind me of a cake I make on occasion using chocolate, saffron, cumin, and lots of molasses...this cake is stupidly rich, especially when you count the saffron vanilla glaze. Seriously the similarity between this tea and my cake concoction are uncanny, I never need to go on the hunt for cheap saffron again if I just keep drinking this tea. You can get many steeps out of these tea, it has decent longevity.
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Spring 1- Ah, good old 'Lapsang Souchong' as it is more commonly known in this part of the world, though this is a far distant from the usually coarse and smoky tea that gets brewed in a big ol' pot on a cold day, this is refined and not at all smoky. This is also super fresh, it and the next tea were both processed a few weeks ago. The aroma of the leaves is yammy and yummy, notes of sweet potatoes and peanuts blend with a piney resinous note, like this tea was stored in a pine barrel.
Tasting the tea, it has a slight tannic quality at the start, not bitterness, just more dry than super smooth, it goes well with the malt, yam, and pine wood quality, giving this tea more briskness than the previous one. In the later steeps it gets sweeter, the pine notes become more like sap and the starchy yam notes definitely turn into straight up brown sugar sweet potatoes. This tea has some serious longevity, I was able to sit with it through many many steeps.
Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong Spring 2- This tea is much as the last one, freshly processed and of the same varietal and type, but this one is a higher quality. You can see the difference right off, there are little golden fuzzy leaves in the mix and prettier leaves in general. The aroma is like someone took a yam and grilled it, not really a char or smoke smell, but a definite cooked yam on a grill, it is very distinct and sweet while being rich and slightly earthy. There is also a pretty distinct molasses note as well at the finish.
Well hello there yams and molasses, and super thick and smooth mouthfeel, you are a very welcome in my mouth. This is a very sweet and rich tea, starchy with a bit of a briskness at the finish. Unlike the Spring 1 the briskness is not accompanied by tannic dryness, it is all thick and smooth. Later steeps pick up a really nice dark chocolate note which compliments the molasses note greatly.
And so ends part one, tomorrow I will cover the other three in this selection, and will probably be very tea drunk!