Min Hong Gong Fu Black Teas

A Trio of Min Hong Gong Fu Black Tea

Min Hong Gong fu teas are sweet, very stylish, slightly floral, slightly fruity, slightly malty, tippy black teas made in the eastern part of northern Fujian – north of the Min River, which is a geograpical divider between the teas from north and south Fujian.

These three teas are historic and important teas and are made in Fuan county, Fuding county and Zhenghe county, the same places where authentic Fujian white tea is made. In fact, some of these teas are made with the large leaf Da Bai cultivar that is used to make white tea, and also from a small leaf cultivar named Xiao Ye Zhong.

Min Hong teas were among the first black teas made in China, and Western tea drinkers would have known these teas (or a similar, earlier version) by the late 17th century. Other historic teas made in this area fell out of production in the 20th century, but these superb teas remain in manufacture today.

We are proud and excited to offer our tea enthusiast customers this special sampler of eastern China black teas that are not commonly seen in the US. All of these teas are of a high grade that contains a quantity of sweet tips – sip these black teas plain and you may find that no milk or sugar is needed.

The Tea Trekker Min Bei Sampler includes:

Bai Lin Gongfu

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This slender, slightly twisted, tippy Fujian black tea is produced in the town of Hu Lin in Fuding County. Here, gongfu black teas are processed from the Fuding Da Bai cultivar, which is also used to produce the most famous bud-pluck white tea – Yin Zhen – which is made in some nearby villages.

This is a Chinese black tea for tea enthusiasts who enjoy the style of fruity Ceylon black teas. Bai Lin is light but distinctive and has a soft-flavor profile and underlying sweetness characteristic of many Chinese black teas.

Panyang Gongfu

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Today, Panyang village primarily makes green tea. But fortunately for lovers of fine hong cha, a handful of tea companies still make Panyang gongfu.

This tea is among the finest manufactures of hong cha in China. Once made initially for export to the West,  these fully-oxidized teas are much in demand among knowledgeable Asian/Chinese tea drinkers.

Fine and thin, the well-twisted & rolled budsets of this tea are gloriously perfect in size and form. The tea is comprised of a significant amount of dark-golden tip, more so than what is found in most Panyangs. This gives the tea a bright aroma of tea and caramel, the trademark aroma of Panyang hong cha.

In the cup, the aroma continually changes and shows incredible complexity. Hints of the aroma of grilled meat, to plum sauce, to chocolate cake with a rich pear buttercream frosting are just a few of the ideas proposed by those who have tasted this exquisite tea.

The flavor is complex, with a pleasant astringency. Both chocolate and cocoa are found here, with cocoa being predominant, followed by raisin and mild chile. The overall flavor is rich and mouth-filling and the body is deep and satisfying.

Zhenghe Gongfu

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Thin, straight and wiry, this traditional pluck has a well-balanced proportion of golden tip to budset. The budset and tip are each of an even size and color and the aroma of the dry leaf suggests both biscuit and nut. This is a rich, fragrant but mild black tea with a brilliant golden-amber color in the cup.

The aroma and flavor are complimentary, both offering smooth, soft and round characteristics and a suggestion of  wheat toast and caramel. The leaf has been carefully fired in the manufacture, and the liquor has a touch of ripe stone fruit in the taste.

NOTE:

What is gongfu tea? 

We are often asked about the meaning of gong fu tea as many know this term to refer to a skillful style of Chinese presenting, steeping, and serving tea.

Yes, but the term gongfu alone means ‘skillful’. So, gongfu or gongfu cha is used to distinguish certain high-quality Chinese hong cha (black tea) that are made with discipline and skill and excellent crafting.

Gongfu black tea represents the Chinese approach to premium-quality tea making which values the taste of the tea;  sweet, rich flavors in the cup; and a stylish appearance of the dried leaf. These qualities come from whole tea leaves that have been carefully crafted and fully oxidized.

These teas are not the same as China’s standard black teas that are exported in large quantities and often sold to companies who will add these teas to average quality proprietary blends. Such teas, for example, are sold simply as Fujian black or Hunan black tea without further place of origin attached.

So, gongfu does have two meanings and it can be a bit confusing. For instance, one can serve gongfu cha or congou tea gongfu-style and enjoy a skillful presentation of a skillfully made, delicious tea.

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2009 Pre-Qing Ming Yunnan teas are here !

Yunnan Curly Golden Buds

Yunnan Curly Golden Buds

Yes ! The first of our wonderful, early harvest teas have arrived, and we are excited to have them here. When it comes to early pluck Chinese tea, most tea enthusiasts think of eastern China and Longjing tea. However, the warm weather in the tropical region of Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, brings delicious early pluck Yunnan bud teas to market as early as late February.

Yunnan teas are one of our favorite black teas because they are unique among China’s black teas. In appearance and in the cup, they are the perfect expression of their terroir: ie. the environment, the tea manufacturing methodology and the distinctive Yunnan tea tree/ tea bush varietals.

For those who are not familiar with Pre-Qing Ming tea, let me explain.

In China, the earliest plucked tea leaves are known as Pre-Qing Ming or Ming Qian teas. Early spring plucking begins in late February to early March ( depending on the province, region, and weather ) and ends on April 5th. Only teas that are plucked during this short time can be sold as Pre-Qing Ming tea.  Chinese tea enthusiasts believe that the earlier the pluck, the better the tea. Tea enthusiasts in the know are eager for this time of the year as the opportunity for purchasing these special teas is fleeting.

In India, the designation used is 1st Flush, and in Japan, the teas are known as Shincha . The meaning behind these designations is the same: these teas are the first plucking of the budding tea bushes in the earliest days of the new harvest season. Tea bushes ‘flush’ with new growth after awakening from the dormant winter period. In a sense, these teas are made from baby tea leaves that are delicious ‘just born’ expressions of the flavor of the tea. As such, these teas are vigorous and bursting with flavor and contain a large amount of beneficial plant nutrient.

In just a few weeks time, the leaves on the tea bushes will grow too large to be baby tea leaves any longer this year. As the tea bushes grow, they produce larger, mid-sized leaves ( teenagers ! ) and by summer the tea pluckers will be gathering full-sized leaves ( adults). While each stage of leaf growth contributes a different seasonal flavor to the tea, early harvest teas are especially prized.

What arrived today:

Yunnan Province

2009 Pre-Qing Ming Yunnan Curly Golden Buds
2009 Pre-Qing Ming Jumbo Golden Buds

Yunnan Jumbo Golden Buds

Fujian Province

2009 Pre-Qing Ming Bai Lin Gong Fu

Bai Lin Gong Fu

Bai Lin Gong Fu

To order, please  click here: http://www.teatrekker.com/main.htm

Please keep checking back to our blog – or the Tea Trekker home page – as we will post each new tea as it arrives in the coming days !