Many fine teas come from China. And the Fujian Province is the source of quite a few. Three of them are red teas with quite a reputation.
Before going further, let me clarify what is meant here by “red” tea. In the U.S. and elsewhere, it refers to something that isn’t even really tea, that is, it’s made from another plant altogether called “rooibos” (red bush). In China and many other countries, red tea is what we call “black” tea. See more info in our article “What Is True Chinese Red Tea?”
On to those three famous Fujian red teas:
From Tanyang in the mountains of northern Fujian province of China. This red tea is considered the “king of the Fujian Artisan Red Teas.” The leaves are jet black and shiny and steep up a liquid that is gold in color and has a sweet and somewhat fruity aroma. The flavor is described as fresh, smooth, and having a sweet aftertaste. You can add a touch of lemon and honey, or some milk, or some spices. It was first made about 150 years ago when Tanyang was just a tiny tea village. The tea became very popular in Europe by the end of 19th century. They exported about 1.5 million kilograms a year. Over the years the plantation trees and production process were developed further so that the tea is called gongfu due to the great amount of manual skills and efforts needed for producing the tea.
From Zhenghe County. This is a tea with a slight honey flavor that is very different from many “red” teas. It is made from the Da Baicha cultivar. This tea is considered by many to be more of a congou tea and is therefore often called Zheng He Congou Tea. The flavor is full-bodied and somewhat like claret (a type of wine). The tea originated in Zhenghe County in the Fujian Province of China. Other teas are produced there but the name Zhenghe is usually used for the red tea, which was first produced in 1874 and in little over a decade became known as one of the top three red teas. The liquid has a deep, full body, a smooth and mellow flavor, and a hint of subtle pepper in the taste and fragrance. It is excellent at breakfast and for your afternoon tea time since it blends very well with sweetened milk for added flavor and extra smoothness.
From Bailin, Taimushan of Fuding County. Reported to be the oldest form of red tea ever made. It is processed by hand, using young leaf buds that are kept whole and then fully oxidized (a process that takes over five hours) and heated. This results in a malty flavor that is rich, caramelly, and has chocolate and tobacco notes. Made from either of two tea plant varietals: Da Bai used for white tea or a native small leaf Fujian green. The dry leaves are yellow and black with a shape that is long, thin, bent, and sort of like a fuzz ball. They steep up a bright red liquid with a fresh, mellow aroma and a clean, sweet flavor.