‘Dian Hong Cha’ (chin. 滇 紅茶) is the Chinese term for black tea from Yunnan province, a region often also referred to as ‘the cradle of tea’. Although the exact time of origin of tea culture cannot be determined anymore today, there is evidence that the tea plant has been cultivated, picked and processed in Yunnan for more than 3000 years already.
Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong Cha is the manifestation of one of Yunnan’s oldest and most outstanding black tea traditions, which has developed against the backdrop of a story of its own. According to that story, this exceptional processing form of black tea has once been invented by enslaved tea pickers in the imperial tea garden as a symbol for freedom and a better future.
Place of origin and historical/social background
Unser Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong Cha Black Tea comes from an extremely difficult to access, untouched (wild) tea garden, situated at altitudes beyond 2000 meters on Yang Tea Mountain, located only about 100km north of the famous tea cultivation areas Pu Erh and Xishuanbanna in Jinggu County, where it has been picked and processed to finest black tea by the inhabitants of a small tribal village from ancient wild tea trees for more than 2000 years now. According to the local tribe’s heritage, their ancestors had once – guided by a vision of their then village elder – come to this place from an infertile and dry region, when looking for more a fertile habitat. On Yang Ta Mountain, besides a natural wealth of water, flora and fauna, the also found wild tea trees and started – again guided by the same man’s vision – picking and processing the leaves of these trees. Since that time, the people of that tribe and village have been nurturing that tradition and kept passing it on from one generation to the next, while developing it further to a true and masterfully perfected form of art.
Being at home and deeply rooted in Yang Ta village, the family of tea master Wang Feng is an integral part of that tradition. Our Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong Cha is one of several characteristic Yunnan black teas that is handpicked and manually processed according to the same ancient tradition than 2000 years ago. For tea master Wang Feng and her family, the wild (untampered) growth of the tea trees as just as much a matter of course as refraining from any pesticide and/or artificial fertilizer use.
Variety and picking standard
Wang Feng and her family pick their tea from ancient high mountain populations of the large leaf Camellia Assamica tea tree species native to Yunnan. The tea leaves for producing Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong Cha are handpicked each year in spring with a picking standard of 2+1 (one young bud with the 2 adjacent youngest leaves). Because of their golden yellow color, the buds are well recognizable as golden stripes in the finished tea pagoda.
Processing and pagoda shape
The processing of this tea, and in particular the production of the pagoda-shaped tea artwork itself involve a demanding handicraft process: after an initial phase of withering and oxidation, the tea leaves are subjected to a first roasting run, done the traditional way by hand in a wok pan over wood fire. In parallel, threads of red silk are bound around corn ears, in order to obtain the desired pagoda shape. Then, the still unfinished, sleek tea leaves are woven into that pattern by means of an intricate manual process, before undergoing a final drying roast. The result is without question one of the finest and most remarkable Yunnan black teas.
Taste and aroma
The exceptionally harmonious taste and aroma profile of Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong Cha Black Tea reads like that of a candy. The golden brown cup is dominated by spicy-sweet coconut, honey and chocolate notes, complemented by an unusually smooth and mild roast component, produced by the gentle manual roasting.
To the outstanding taste and aroma features of our Wild Black Needle Pagoda adds a range of desirable health effects that are generally attributed to black tea: increase of physical and mental capacity, lowering of high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, general circulation stimulation and weight loss support. Further, the high tannin content of black tea is said to be responsible for therapeutic effects of black tea on gastritis and other gastro-intestinal conditions. Also, black tea is rich in natural fluorides that supposedly support a long teeth health and life.
For the preparation of our Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong Cha Black Tea, we recommend a dosage of 1 pagoda (ca. 3g) per 200ml water of a temperature of 90+°C and an infusion period of 2-3 minutes for a first infusion. The circular, symmetric tea flower unfolding from the pagoda during that time, will then further release its active and taste ingredients over 2-3 subsequent full value infusions, with 1 additional minute added for each steep. We strongly recommend never to miss at least the second of these!