Fengqing February #1: Fengqing Black Tea

Awhile back we spotlighted a great Fengqing tea (Spotlight Tea: 2011 Spring Premium Yunnan Fengqing Black Tea) and will now be looking at three more black teas from the Yunnan Province of China, an area better known for its many pu-erh teas. (The town of Fengqing has a long history of tea planting, production, and consuming, and is where Yunnan black tea originated.) We’re starting with a black tea that is pretty basic but still a far cry from the dust in a bag that many people think of when they think about having some black tea. One look at the dry leaves can show that you’re dealing with something special. Small wonder that when steeped the leaves produced a liquid with a deep reddish color. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Let’s back up and take a close look at those leaves.
Here is that close-up shot:
Compared to the previous Fengqing tea spotlighted on this blog, this tea has smaller pieces that are dark brown with some tan color and having a rich, jammy aroma. The steeped liquid is a dark ruby color and, like the dry leaves, has that rich jammy aroma, with a flavor that is slightly toasty with a hint of a tang in the aftertaste. A key here is to shorten the steeping time from what you would normally do for a black tea – try 2½ or 3 minutes instead of 5 or 6 minutes so typically recommended. If you’re used to drinking black tea with milk and/or some sweetener, take a moment to sip this one straight first, instead of adding anything right away. Another thing to note about this and the other Fengqing black teas is that they are great to infuse in small amounts, sip on, and then do another infusion from the same leaves.
More about the tea processing: The tea starts in the fields with plucking by hand the leaf-and-bud sets, often from the first flush (period of growth). The bushes often range in age from 50 to 70 years. The leaves undergo a processing method classified as “traditional” or “orthodox” that is done in small batches and includes some cutting and shaping before they are sun-dried. The end result is an array that is mostly dark brown but is speckled with a bit of “gold” buds (they look more tan, actually). And the processing preserves natural aromas and flavors with floral hints. A lovely textured and round taste that lasts in your mouth.

About Janice and Stephen Shelton

Purveyors of Premium Teas
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