The mountainous province of Yunnan in the southwest of China, bordering the Republic of Lao, Burma (Myanmar) and (almost) north Thailand belongs both ecologically and culturally to the richest and most diverse regions in the world. The region, often referred to as ‘the cradle of tea’, is the home of the “Ancient Tea Tree” as well as of a more than 3000 years old history of tea cultivation and a tea culture coming with it that is just as old. It is, where Pu Erh Tea comes from, today enjoying a status of worldwide fame, while also green teas (such as our Bi Luo Chun) and in particular black teas from Yunnan, so-called ‘Dian Hong Tea’ (chin. 滇 紅 茶, term for black tea from Yunnan) are highly valued amongst tea lovers worldwide.
Based on their picking standard – spring picking (middle of March through to middle of April) of the pure buds only – Yunnan ‘Golden Tips’ are considered the highest quality grade among Yunnan black teas (‘Dian Hong Tea’). While the production of Pu Erh tea production there evidently reaches back more than 3000 years in history, first evidence of Dian Hong Tea production falls into the time of the Han dynasty (ca. 200 BC). In the old times, tea in Yunnan used to be exclusively picked from the native ancient large-leaf assamica variety of Camellia Sinensis, growing wild across Yunnan in the form of up to 20 meters high trees. However, when the British during the 1930’s noticed the region’s particular suitability for tea cultivation, tea started to be grown ‘conventionally’ there, too, i. e. in the form of monoculturally organized, yield-maximizing tea gardens.
However, our Yunnan Golden Tips has remained unaffected by such side effects of colonial times, as well as of any other modern influence, for that matter. The wild ancient tea trees, growing amidst untouched nature at altitudes beyond 2000 meters on Yang Ta Mountain, located in Jinggu County, prefecture Pu Erh, are handpicked and manually processed according to millennium-old traditions by tea master Wang Feng, from who we also source our Wild Yunnan Black & Golden Needle and Wild Yunnan Black Needle Pagoda Dian Hong teas. The history of Wang Feng’s family, which is also the history of her village and her people, is closely tied to these ancient tea trees on Yang Ta Mountain. Together, the form the backdrop of the origin and tradition of the black tea produced here.
Origin and 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 Wild Yunnan Golden Tips Dian Hong Tea is one of several characteristic Yunnan black teas that are 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, or better: the pure tea buds exclusively used for producing Yunnan Golden Tips are handpicked each year in spring from about middle of March through to middle of April. After picking, the harvest is sorted into several qualities in the tea factory, ranging from a selection of the biggest and hairiest buds to lower leaf qualities. The Golden Tips selection offered here, large, golden yellow, tightly haired and fluffy soft buds is the first or A grade / selection.
For processing, the freshly picked, large buds are initially subjected to a period of withering with repeated shifting. Once the desired degree of oxidation – recognizable at the bright shiny, golden yellow color of the tea buds – is reached, they are gently roasted in the traditional way manually in a wok pan over wood fire. The result, our Wild Yunnan Golden Tips, does not only equal the highest grade of Dian Hong tea, but actually makes one of the world’s finest black teas.
Taste and aroma
The taste an aroma profile of Wild Yunnan Golden Tips Dian Hong Tea is coined by a mild and sweet spiciness and the perfectly harmonious interplay of coconut, honey and chocolate notes. This picture is rounded by a smooth and soft roast component owed to particularly gentle 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 Wild Yunnan Golden Tips Dian Hong Tea, we recommend a dosage of 3-5g of the golden tea buds on 200-300ml water of a temperature of 90+°C and an infusion period of 3 minutes for a first infusion. Adding 1 additional minute to each subsequent infusion, you should be able to produce 2-3 more infusions from the particularly classy Dian Hong tea, none of which you will ever want to miss.
Please also note our Wild Yunnan Black & Golden Needle as well as our Wild Yunnan Black Needle Pagoda, two more Yunnan black teas (Dian Hong teas) coming from tea master Wang Feng that we proudly present to you at Siam Tea Shop.