If you enjoy the refreshing and rich flavor of black tea, then there's one tea you absolutely shouldn't miss, and that is Yunnan Black Tea (Dianhong).
Many Chinese teas have a long history. For instance, well-known loose leaf green tea like Longjing and Biluochun have a history of over a thousand years. The famous Dahongpao in loose leaf oolong tea has a history of about six hundred years. The earliest loose leaf black tea, Zhengshan Xiaozhong, has a history of around five hundred years. If these teas are popular, it's because of their long history, longstanding reputation, and tried-and-tested craftsmanship and taste. Yunnan Black Tea (Dianhong), on the other hand, stands out among them. It's very young, but its popularity is no less than many historical famous teas.
A Young yet Beloved black tea
In 1938, Feng Shaoqiu conducted field research in Yunnan and discovered that the tea trees in Fengqing County grew like forests, with tall and robust plants, healthy buds and leaves, making them perfect for producing high-quality black tea. Through hard work, they successfully produced it. The tea leaves are plump, the infusion is bright red, and the leaves shine with a brilliant red color at the bottom. It has a rich aroma and is unlike any other small-leaf tea variety in the country.
In 1939, the Yunnan large-leaf tea variety produced in Fengqing successfully passed the production trial for black tea and was exported to Hong Kong and then to London, achieving great success. In 1940, this tea was officially named "Yunnan Black Tea," and the legendary story of Yunnan Black Tea's fragrance spreading around the world began. It gained high acclaim in the former Soviet Union, Eastern European countries, and the London market.
Characteristics of Yunnan Black Tea
Tea Soup: The Tea Soup of Yunnan Black Tea is a bright and vibrant red with a hint of golden hue, representing high-quality Yunnan Black Tea.
Aroma: Yunnan Black Tea has a unique aroma with floral and fruity notes, as well as a honey-like sweetness. The aroma is long-lasting.
Flavor: Yunnan Black Tea has a full-bodied and mellow taste with a refreshing and lingering sweetness, leaving a lasting aftertaste in your mouth.
Tea Leaves: The tea leaves are slender, with visible golden tips, and have a lustrous dark color.
Large-Leaf Tea Trees
The Yunnan large-leaf tea tree is one of the finest tea tree varieties in China. Its fresh leaf water extract content is 48.75%, and it contains 35.79% tea polyphenols. There are now two nationally recognized superior varieties of tea trees: Mengku large-leaf and Fengqing large-leaf.
Yunnan Black Tea is made from Yunnan large-leaf tea trees. Compared to medium and small-leaf tea tree varieties, Yunnan large-leaf tea trees have a higher concentration of substances, making Yunnan Black Tea more robust and durable in terms of steeping, while also resulting in a richer flavor.
Yunnan Black Tea Production Areas
The primary production areas for Yunnan Black Tea include Fengqing, Yunxian, Shuangjiang, Lincang, Changning, and other counties. Tea produced in these regions account for over 90% of the total Yunnan Black Tea production. The highest-quality Yunnan Black Tea is found in Fengqing County, Lincang, Yunnan, where it is crafted to the highest standards.
The taste of Yunnan Black Tea can vary depending on its place of origin. Yunnan Black Tea produced in the southern Yunnan region is known for its robust flavor and strong stimulation, while Yunnan Black Tea from the western Yunnan region has a mellow taste with less stimulation but a refreshing aftertaste, providing a sense of sweetness.
iTeaworld offers Yunnan Black Tea from the core production area of Fengqing County. The tea infusion is bright orange-red, with a strong flavor and a fresh aroma. What's more, this Yunnan Black Tea is reasonably priced, making it a must-try for tea enthusiasts interested in Yunnan Black Tea.
Unique Growing Environment for Yunnan Black Tea
The primary production areas for Yunnan Black Tea are located within a latitude range of no more than 3° from the Tropic of Cancer. This region is in the "biological optimum zone" and is home to the largest number of wild tea trees in China.
The Yunnan Black Tea production areas are characterized by rolling hills and an average elevation of over 1000 meters above sea level. The climate is subtropical, with an annual average temperature ranging from 18 to 22°C, accumulated temperature exceeding 6000°C annually, and a significant day-night temperature difference. The annual precipitation ranges from 1200 to 1700 millimeters, and the climate is known for the frequent presence of mist in the mornings and evenings, as well as rainy and cloudy conditions. The region's lush forests, decomposed leaves and grasses forming a rich humus layer, fertile soil, and abundant rainfall contribute to the growth of tall and robust tea trees with abundant white hairs. Even when the leaves grow to 5-6 pieces, they remain soft and tender. The region's tea leaves have the highest content of polyphenols and alkaloids among all tea-producing regions in China.
To choose and purchase the best loose leaf tea, you need to pay attention to both the craftsmanship and the growing environment of the tea tree. High-quality loose leaf tea often excels in both these aspects, and Yunnan Black Tea is a perfect example.
Production of Yunnan Black Tea
The production of Yunnan Black Tea primarily involves plucking, withering, rolling, fermentation, drying, and meticulous sorting. First, high-quality tea buds and leaves are picked and spread thinly for withering. Then, the tea leaves are rolled and kneaded for 70-90 minutes to break down cell tissues. Next comes the unique phase of temperature-controlled traditional fermentation (4 hours at 35°C), which is a distinctive stage in the production of Yunnan Black Tea. During fermentation, the leaves change from green to red, creating the characteristic red leaves and red infusion of Yunnan Black Tea.
The mechanism behind this is that the leaf's cell membrane permeability increases due to the rolling and kneading process. Polyphenolic substances come into contact with oxidizing enzymes, leading to oxidation and polymerization, which results in the color, aroma, and taste of loose leaf black tea. The right degree of fermentation produces leaves with a uniform red color, reddish hue in older leaves, the disappearance of grassy notes, and a ripe fruit fragrance.
Finally, the tea leaves are dried and meticulously sorted to become the finished tea.
Proper Brewing Methods
1. Choice of Teaware
Selecting the right teaware is essential for brewing a delicious cup of Yunnan Black Tea. For a visually appealing experience, use glass, crystal, or white porcelain teacups that allow you to appreciate the brilliant clarity of "Highland Red" during the tea brewing process.
2. Selection of Water Quality
Choosing the right water quality for brewing Yunnan Black Tea also has a direct impact on the tea's taste. You can use spring water, mineral water, groundwater, well water, distilled water, or purified water for brewing. Place a small bag of Yunnan Black Tea in your teapot or cup, pour in boiling water, and steep for around 15 seconds before enjoying.
3. Control of Water Temperature
The water temperature used for brewing Yunnan Black Tea is crucial. Water that is too hot can make the tea lack depth, while water that is too cool won't allow the aroma and flavor to fully develop. The steeping time determines the sweetness of the black tea, and the ideal temperature and brewing time may vary depending on your personal taste. It's a matter of experimentation to find the right balance.
I hope this article provides you with a better understanding of this young black tea, Yunnan Black Tea (Dianhong). It explains the reasons behind its delightful flavor and offers guidance on how to enjoy it to the fullest.