Xaysathan Red Elephant Arbor Black Tea


Kinnari Tea’s “Red Elephant” is a black tea from semi-wild tea trees in Xaysathan, Xayabouri Province, western Laos. the initial perception of sweet cocoa and raisin must is soon followed by notes of orange peel and dried fruit. Plums, figs, dates… a universe of flavors, united and elevated to a symphony by an all-carrying sweetness that will last on the palate even long beyond sipping.

For more information please refer to the product description below.


Kinnari’s Red Elephant Arbor Black Tea, Xaysathan, Xayabouri, Western Laos

Xaysathan Red Elephant Black Tea - "Red" Tea from semi-wild growing, up to 300 years old tea trees in Xaysathan district, Xayabouri province, western Laos


Kinnari Tea’s “Red Elephant” is a black tea from semi-wild tea trees of different ages in Xaysathan, Xayabouri Province, western Laos. The district is considered to be the last refuge for wild elephants in Laos. The tea tree ressources at an altitude of 1,300 meters near the border with northern Thailand are based on plantings dating back about 200-300 years. At that time, the “Phrai” ethnic group migrated here from regions in northern Siam. They brought the seeds of the tea trees with them from their old homeland. Therefore, both the variety and the tea made from it show clear differences to those typical for Laos.

Kinnari Tea Map - Kinnari tea cultivation areas in Laos : Xaysathan (Xayabouri), Xiengkhouang, Nyot Out (Pongsaly) and Bolaven Plateau

It is descendants of those Phrai who cultivate the old tea trees – and their desecendants – growing around Paklong village today. As in the old days, they pick the tea leaves in small batches and process them to sun-dried “red” tea. Because here, at the cradle of the tea tree, what we call black tea is called red tea. That is, the category designation is based on the color of the tea liquor instead of the processed tea leaves.

Paklong Village, Xaysathan District, Provinz Xayabouri, West-Laos

Paklong village in the mountains of Xaysathan

Picking and Processing

Only the buds of the up to 300 years old tea trees, toghether with their youngest 2 adjacent leaves each, qualify for picking. At this, the pickers at Xaysathan make no difference between the older trees and their younger descendants. Both picking and most of the processing work is still done by hand here today. The result is an arbor black tea combining the local tea farmers’ generations-old experience with Kinnari’s high quality standards.

Unlike the bordering Vietnam – or China – Laos does not have a national tea culture in the proper sense. Nevertheless, the picking and processing of the native tea trees’ leaves are an integral part of the local mountain tribes’ tradition. Reconciling this tradition with highest quality, environmental and social standards and complementing it with a high level of professional competence is the secret of Kinnari Tea.

Natural cultivation in biodiverse environment

Apart form the artisan processing, Xaysathan Red Elephant lives from the natural, biodiverse environment, in which the tea trees grow. The tea plants greatly benefit from the harmonious interaction of numerous types of plants, animals and insects populating their habitat. Other than with “clones” (raised from cutoffs), the roots of tea trees raised from the seed reach meters deep into the soil. This way, the plants enjoy the full natural input from their terroir. To this adds the balance prevailing in an ecosystem, paying respect to the “existential interests” of all its stakeholders. As a result, the need for artificial fertilizing and means of pest control completely omits.

Semi-wild, seed-grown in a biodiverse environment tea plant in Xaysathan, Xayabouri, western Laos

The Tea

The complex fragrance evaporating from both the dry leaf material and the infusion fills any room with a sense of well-being. And like a velvety film, the liquor, reminiscent of a precious oil, coats the oral flora. “Precious…” will be your first thought manifesting as a thought.

So, our first haptic perception of Red Elephant is an – initially rather vague – pleasant impression on our palate. Only then, the aromatic-spicy, harmoniously round, but nevertheless deep and complex taste of Xaysathan Red Elephant begins to unfold. At this, the initial perception of sweet cocoa and raisin must is soon followed by notes of orange peel and dried fruit. Plums, figs, dates… a universe of flavors, united and elevated to a symphony by an all-carrying sweetness that will last on the palate even long beyond sipping.


First pour 6g of tea leaves in a clay teapot with 200 ml of boiling water after calming down (approx. 90°C). Then let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. At 3 minutes forms a harmonious, mild, complex and rich taste pattern. Beyond this point, spiciness and fullbodiedness are further gaining. Then, a second infusion of the same steeping time puts the emphasis on aromatic-spicy roast notes. Xaysathan Red Elephant Black Tea develops neither bitterness nor astringency even after prolonged periods. Nevertheless, it is just as suitable for “Gong Fu” style preparation across several, comparably short-steeped infusions.

Kinnari Tea – Ecological and Social Responsibility

Tea is the greatest passion of Anna and Thun, the German/Laotian operators of Kinnari Tea in Laos. This is why quality for Kinnari Tea means more than just a good leaf grade, even a lot more. Beyond the obvious properties of the tea leaf, acting responsible regarding our natural and social environment is a cornerstone of Kinnari’s quality concept. At this, goal is the highest achievable level of harmony between the company’s economic activities and all stakeholders’ interests, including nature.

Hence, paying fair prices to the actual producers in Xinghkhouang and Bolaven is only ONE manifestation of Kinnari’s quality philosophy. Beyond this, Kinnari teas come only from tea trees raised from from the seed and grown naturally. Further, Kinnari emphasizes that these tea trees grow in their natural, biodiverse environment. With this, a no-pesticides, no artificial fertilizers and no hazardous substances policy is just a mattter of course.

Xaysathan Sunset

For detailed information about the history, background and philosphy of Kinnari Tea, please read my pertaining article in Siam Tea Blog:

Laos, Kinnari Tea – Handpicked and Processed Arbor Teas from Biodiverse Cultivation

Find more Kinnari teas from Xiengkhouang,  Nyot Ou (Pongsaly) and Bolaven Plateau, Laos, here:

Kinnari Laos Arbor Teas @ Siam Tea Shop

Additional information

Weight N/A

25g, 50g, 100g


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