Sun-dried Black Tea (Shaihong) Pressed into a 200g Cake
We went to Yunnan to learn about the world of Puer and instead we discovered Shaihong! One of Yunnan's best kept secrets, "Sun-dried black tea" is a gem that deserves showcasing.
In contrast to mainstream black teas that are oven-dried, Shaihong leaves are simply left under the sun to dry. A natural process that results in a mellow black tea with raisin-like sweetness and velvety consistency. A unique black tea with Puer-like qualities.
Our Yunnan Black is hand-picked from wild tea trees (between the age of 50 and 100 years) in Zhanglang village of Xishuangbanna. Gifted to me by a tea producer in the village, the moment I opened and brewed this magnificent Shaihong cake back home, I was hooked. With rich notes of dark chocolate and dried fig, this tea brews a deep, cherry red liquor and can be brewed up to 8 times in one sitting. As you continue brewing, you'll notice the different layers emerging - spice, cacao beans, raisins.
Just like a fine wine, this tea also gains complexity and value with age. A must try for wine connoisseurs, especially those who enjoy silky red wines like Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Rated a 91/100 on Tea Epicure by North American tea author and thought leader, Tony Gebely. Read Tony's assessment here.
PICKED Oct 2017 PRESSED Mar 2018 (Aged)
ORIGIN Zhanglang, Xishuangbanna, Yunnan | Bulang Tribe
LEAF Da Ye Zhong varietal, Da Shu (big tea trees 50 ~ 100 years old) | Bud and 3 leaves
CRAFT Picked, withered, rolled & sun-dried. Pressed into cakes.
NOTES Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon, Red Date, Honey
BENEFITS May aid digestion
We recommend using a small clay teapot or Gaiwan to brew this black tea. Use our Tea Knife to help you break off pieces of the cake seamlessly. We were also pleasantly surprised to find out this tea makes a delicious cold-brew, with its natural sweetness really coming into play.
Chinese Brew (Gaiwan): 5g | 150ml | 95°C | 20 sec | +5 secs for additional brews | Can steep ~ 8 times
Western Brew (Mug / Teapot): 5g | 350ml | 95°C | 1 min | + 20 secs for additional brews | Can steep ~ 4 times
Cold-Brew (Pitcher): 12g | 750ml | Room temp. | 8 hours in fridge | Strain & serve with ice
Bordering Myanmar, Zhanglang village is home to the Bulang ethnic minority who have been practicing their age-old puer-making traditions for thousands of years.
We met this producer, along with his wife and family by pure chance, or Yuanfen as it is called, simply stumbling upon their modest processing facility during our stay in the tea village. Like many of the tribes in this tea region, his family has owned and protected its ancient tea trees for several generations, cultivating its precious leaves using age old traditions together as a family. To them, tea is a way of life.
We observed as the family processed tea until the evening when the owner came to fry puer leaves over a wok. It wasn't until the next day when he gave us a ride into town that he gifted us this magnificent Shaihong cake, wrapped in an adorable paper depicting the colorful traditions of the Bulang people. A beautiful tea with a beautiful story.
This tea's complex flavors and digestive properties are enhanced with age. Store it in a dry, shaded place and enjoy the changes in taste and benefits over the years. An ever-evolving and transformative black tea, unlike any other we've ever experienced.
Don't let the cake form intimidate you - Once you practice breaking pieces off a few times, it's actually a very convenient way to store and drink tea.